"I would say that our adversaries (Chinese and North Korean soldiers) were also very well trained. They had an advantage over us because it was their country, their mountains."
There was an incident that had a great effect on me and that took time for me to forget. First off, in Korea, when fighting, we all lived in dugouts, dugouts that we dug ourselves with, in certain cases, the earth that preserved us on the roof. It could reach three, four, five feet depending, always depending on the situation. Clearly, between each dugout, there was an adjoining trench. One time, during lunch, we were eating soup, me and my friend, a guy named Rioux, from Asbestos. I never saw him again after that. While we were eating, there was a bomb that crossed our dugout. I was here and he was here. It passed between us, and it hit the earthen wall. It didn’t explode. That happens maybe once in a thousand that a bomb doesn’t explode. If it had exploded, I wouldn’t be here right now telling you this story.
That affected me right away. I was a bit nervous afterward, but I started to exhibit trauma about fifteen years later. It didn’t happen right away. At one point, I had to consult a psychologist and the psychologist told me that post-traumatisms rarely occur immediately. They occur afterward and sometimes a long time afterward. In my case, it happened maybe 15-20 years later. I was having nightmares.
I would say that our adversaries (Chinese and North Korean soldiers) were also very well trained. They had an advantage over us because it was their country, their mountains. Obviously we can presume that they were born there. Their uniforms went very well with the terrain. I would say that we were up against a professional enemy, not an amateur.
I think what’s most important is not so much the war, but it’s knowing what your country did to help those people. Those people were happy. They appreciated what Canada did for them. That’s what the men should know. I think that’s what all Canadians should know. I returned to Korea in 2003. Based on the way we were received in 2003, I would say that it was worthwhile to go there, to see that those people were happy. They came to get us every morning at 8:00 a.m. by bus. On each side of the bus was a large banner written in Korean that we were veterans from the Korean War, from Canada. People would stop, cars would stop and honk their horns. People applauded us when we went by. I am sure that any Canadian, today, I am not just talking about veterans but civilians, who goes to Korea and identifies themselves as a Canadian, they’ll be well received.