Manitoba

Korean War service in Winnipeg remembers the 'Forgotten War'

Winnipeggers gathered on Monday to remember Canadians who fought and died in the Korean War, which ended 62 years ago.

War ended with negotiated truce 62 years ago Monday

Canadian veteran ​Denis Lafreniere attends a candlelight service at the Korean Veterans Cairn in the Field of Honour at Brookside Cemetery late Monday afternoon. (Erin Brohman/CBC)

Winnipeggers gathered on Monday to remember Canadians who fought and died in the Korean War, which ended 62 years ago.

The Manitoba unit of the Korea Veterans Association held a candlelight service at the Korean Veterans Cairn in the Field of Honour at Brookside Cemetery late Monday afternoon.

About 26,000 Canadians volunteered to serve overseas with United Nations forces in the three-year war, which ended with a negotiated truce on July 27, 1953.

More than 500 Canadian soldiers died, making the Korean War the third-deadliest conflict in which Canada was involved.

Harry Lee, a member of the Korea Veterans Association and president of the Korean Seniors Association, takes part in a Korean War anniversary service at Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg on Monday. (Erin Brohman/CBC)
At Monday's ceremony, which was attended by veterans and the public, candles and words of gratitude honoured Manitobans who died in the war.

Among those at the event was veteran ​Denis Lafreniere, who said he joined the military on the week that war was declared in Korea.

"Sometimes it was bloody awful, and when I say bloody awful, I mean there was a lot of bloodshed. But the camaraderie made up for all the stuff where you have a lot of danger, you never know which way to look," he said.

"It's disorganized in a way, but when we have an objective to get, well, we just went out and got it."

Lafreniere said his most rewarding experience in the war was when Canadian and other troops pushed North Korean troops back past the 30th parallel.

Veteran sees changed country years later

Hugh Mackenzie, who served between 1951 and 1953, recalled seeing a different Korea when he went back there in 1998.

"It was interesting to go back because here's this country, now an industrial power. It makes you feel good," he said.

"The Koreans treated us like kings — much better than the country's government ever treated us. And you know, it's a happy country now."

Also at the service was Harry Lee, who, as a tenager in Korea, ran errands for a camp of Canadian soldiers.

Now president of the Korean Seniors Association and a member of the Korea Veterans Association, Lee said the bond between Canadian veterans and Koreans remain strong today.

"Those folks, they volunteered to [fight in an] unknown land, to fight in the 'Forgotten War,' which is Korean War," Lee said.

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