Confusion surrounds medal for Korea veterans
Information collected from those who served in Korea will be forwarded to consulate
A visit to New Brunswick by South Korea's ambassador to Canada caused some confusion among Korean War veterans in the province about who is eligible to receive an Ambassador for Peace medal.
Cho Hee-yong made an official visit to Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John last week to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Canada and the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice.
As part of the tour, Cho paid tribute to veterans of the Korean War by presenting Ambassador for Peace medals to veterans residing in New Brunswick.
Harold Perrin of Fredericton was one of the veterans who received the medal. But he almost didn't get it.
Perrin is undergoing chemotherapy and couldn't make the ceremony. So his wife, Judy Perrin, went to the ceremony in hopes of picking up the medal on his behalf.
She confronted the head of the local Korea Veterans Association, Duncan Mugford, after the ceremony, but was rebuffed.
"Even though they'd explained to him what my condition was, he still refused," said Harold Perrin.
"He still said, 'We can't do that.'
"My wife was heart-broken."
Judy Perrin said it was an emotional moment when she thought her husband might not get the medal.
"And I knew I was going to cry," she said.
"So I just turned around and they made room for me, to walk through with my walker."
'I think this was wrong'
John Mosher witnessed the exchange and intervened to see that the Perrins got the medal.
"I think this was wrong," said Mosher.
"I think the wife, or the next of kin, should be able to pick up the medal."
Others attended who were entitled to the medal, but they weren't on the list to receive it.
"They were totally ticked off about it," said Korean War veteran Carman Dockendorff, who received his Korean Peace Medal in Korea.
The Korean Embassy says it now has around 10 names of veterans who were not the lists for the medals in New Brunswick. It says anyone who believes they qualify for the medal can apply directly to the embassy.
Veterans Affairs Canada was unable to provide the Korean Embassy with a list of surviving Korea veterans, so the embassy relied on the Korea Veterans Association for the information.
"I think there was a lack of communication in the whole system," said Dockendorff.
The Korea Veterans Association is now taking the information of any veterans who believe they are entitled to an Ambassador for Peace medal and will pass it on to the Korean consulate.
Just following the rules
Duncan Mugford, president of the Korea Veterans Association in the Fredericton area, told CBC News in the three weeks he had, he tracked down 48 veterans.
He says the embassy instructed him to tell all of them they had to be present to be awarded the medal. Otherwise, it would be mailed to them.
"They can get it, and they're entitled to it. I want to see every Korean veteran have it, that's their entitlement, they deserve it, they earned it," said Mugford.
"But it's not my fault, honestly. I only followed the rules. They gave me a set of rules to follow, I followed them. And I can't break the embassy's, his excellency's rules. If he wants to break them, fine. That's his job."
For those who think they deserve the medal but were not on the list, Mugford says they should contact Natalie Her at the Korean embassy in Ottawa.
"She has a telephone number and email address that if they wish to have it, they can call me, I can give it to them," he said.