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War vets honoured with Korean gesture

At left: The pin pictured above is a gesture from the South Korean city of Wonju to the veterans of the Korean War. The pin was given to four veterans of the Korean War in Cranbrook, at a ceremony on Monday, Nov. 11 (Barry Coulter photo). Pictured, left to right, are veteran Dominic Maletta, Mayor Wayne Stetski, Legion President Clive Brown and veterans Ken Smith and Harold Garrison (Mike Turner photo). - Barry Coulter/Mike Turner
At left: The pin pictured above is a gesture from the South Korean city of Wonju to the veterans of the Korean War. The pin was given to four veterans of the Korean War in Cranbrook, at a ceremony on Monday, Nov. 11 (Barry Coulter photo). Pictured, left to right, are veteran Dominic Maletta, Mayor Wayne Stetski, Legion President Clive Brown and veterans Ken Smith and Harold Garrison (Mike Turner photo).
— image credit: Barry Coulter/Mike Turner

To mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, the mayor of Wonju, South Korea, wanted to honour Cranbrook veterans of that war. Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski and other regional representatives were in Korea in the summer as a delegation to build economic relations.

Mayor Weon Chang-Min of Wonju sent back special pins to express the gratitude that is felt in Korea for the sacrifices that veterans made there.

On Monday, Nov. 11, Mayor Wayne Stetski presented the pins to four Korean War veterans at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 24. Harold Garrison, Dominic Maletta, Ken Smith and Dick Davis received the pins. Davis' pin was presented to his wife as he couldn't make the ceremony.

The pins are a unique white chrysanthemum that signifies peace.

These pins are not to be confused with the white versions of the traditional red poppy.

“I want to express my deep gratitude toward all of your veterans, including the families of the honourable ones who passed away to protect what was an unknown and strange country,” wrote Mayor Weon in a letter to the veterans of the Korean War. “We will never forget the pain of sending your beloved sons and husbands, daughters and wives to our country.”

Weon called the veterans “warriors dedicated to freedom and peace.”

“Because of your precious sacrifice, we were able to achieve democracy and economic development,” he wrote. “I express my sincere gratitude for your dedication and effort.”

Clive Brown, president of Branch 24, said it was an important presentation for the Legion, Cranbrook and the veterans.

“The federal government said this is the year of the Korean veterans for 2013, so everything was really fitting for it,” Brown said.

The Korean War began when North Korean military forces crossed the 38th parallel into South Korean territory on June 25, 1950. Canada was among the 16 United Nations countries that would send troops under the U.S. command to defend the south.

Of the 26,000 Canadians sent, 516 died, making the Korean War the third deadliest conflict in Canadian history.

More than 5,000 Canadian women were recruited for military services as well.

The war lasted until July 27, 1953, when the Armistice was signed.

Canadian soldiers held their position throughout fierce attacks from the north during the Battle of Kapyang in April 1951.

The battle left 10 Canadians dead and 23 injured.

In late October 1952, Canadian soldiers once again stood their ground through intense bombardment at Hill 355, known as “Little Gibralter.”

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