(1) BATTLE OF KAPYONG
Recently I had the honour of seeing a Canadian soldier return to Korea, where he had fought during the Korean War some 60 years ago.
On April 21, 2012, I had the opportunity to meet Debbie Hearsey and her son Solomon(from Sioux Lookout, Ontario), during their stopover in Vancouver, who was taking the ashes of her late father, Archibald Lloyd Hearsey to Korea to be reunited with his brother, Joseph who was killed in action in Oct 1951.
It was Archie Hearsey’s request that he be buried in Korea with his brother. His daughter is nobly fulfilling it.
To show the great appreciation and respect Koreans have for Canada, and our country’s role in defending Korea during the war, the ashes of Archibald Hearsey received highest state honour when his daughter got off of the plane in Incheon.
Korea’s Minister of Veterans Affairs, Park Sung Choon, met Debbie Hearsey. A military escort took the ashes into safe keeping.
They were taken to Korea’s National Cemetery to repose for three days in the National Shrine. It is the first time that the remains of a foreign soldier have been placed there – in the eyes of the Korean people, a very high honour.
Tonight, on the 61st anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong, Archie Hearsey will join his beloved brother in Busan, where he has been buried these past 60 years.
The Hearsey brothers served with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
Archie fought in the Battle of Kapyong, the 61st anniversary of which is being commemorated in Korea by more than 40 Canadian veterans from Canada. They are guests of Korea’s Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.
Among Archie Hearsey’s personal possessions is the small blue ribbon that signifies the United States Presidential Citation. It was awarded to the Princess Patricias Canadian Light Infantry for their amazing stand at Kapyong.
The Battle of Kapyong was one of the decisive actions of the Korean War.
The Patricia’s commander, whom Archie Hearsey so greatly admired, gave his soldiers simple orders before that battle.
He said they will stand, no matter what; they will not give up one inch of ground.
They all understood that they would die before they let the enemy force them back.
The Canadian battalion and one Australian battalion held back assault forces from two enemy divisions – ten times their number.
The Commonwealth Brigade prevailed and the enemy offensive in that area was thwarted.
Now one more soldier will be buried in the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Korea, which will be Archie Hearsey’s final resting place.
It will being the total of Canadians buried there to 379.
Let us never forget these brave young Canadians, who volunteered, in the prime of their youth, to serve a country few had heard of before, and a people they never knew.
Let us continue the strong alliance between our two nations that those brave young Canadians wrought with their heroism, and their sacrifice, 61 years ago.