Three Korean War veterans from Maple Ridge are going to experience something they thought they would never experience in their lifetimes.
Tonight, Warren Byrnell of the Canadian Army, James Boyd of the British Army, and Charles Dawe of the Canadian Navy will be the recipients of certificates of appreciation from the United States for their participation in the Korean War, which ended nearly 60 years ago.
"This has been unheard of before now, where the United States has made a presentation like this. This is the first time for Canadian veterans to receive acknowledgement from the United States," said Byrnell, the president of the Korea Veterans Association of Canada and a Korean War veteran himself.
"We feel very honoured, but the people who honour us the most are the Koreans," said Byrnell.
Dawe, who was a leading seaman, was aboard the HMCS Iroquois during the Korean War. The Canadian destroyer was part of the Trainbusters Club. The terrain in that part of Korea forced railroad tracks to hug the coast, which made trains tempting targets. Canadian naval guns on the HMCS Iroquois stopped many enemy trains from delivering their cargoes.
On Oct. 2, 1952, HMCS Iroquois was exchanging fire with an enemy gun battery on shore when the ship took a direct hit. Three Canadian sailors died and 10 were wounded in the explosion.
"We were shelling trains when the ship was hit. They kept us going, even though three were killed," said Dawe, now 79.
July 27, 2013 will be the 60th anniversary of the ceasefire of the Korean War.
"It never really ended, it was just an agreement to cease fire. They did it in Panmunjom," said Boyd, who was in part of the Royal Army Medical Corps - 26th Field Ambulance.
Panmunjom, in Gyeonggi Province between North and South Korea, was where the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement that paused the Korean War was signed.
"We supported the regiments while they were in battle. We moved them to get them [casualties and injured] to Tokyo. I was a radio operator who kept everything organized," he said.
"I went there when I was 19 and one month," 79-year-old Boyd said. "It's a bit late. There aren't too many of us left. Sixty years is a little long to wait."
The certificates will be handed out tonight by a representative from the U.S. Consulate General at an honours and awards dinner at the Royal Canadian Legion in Maple Ridge.