Veterans Complete A Pilgrimage of Memories and Respect
29 July 2013
20130728_WN_S1015650_0008: Veteran Maurice Watts salutes a grave in the New Zealand section of the United Nations Military Cemetery Korea in Busan, South Korea.
The rain poured down on Saturday at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, Korea as 29 New Zealand Korean War veterans gathered to remember and pay tribute to fallen friends sixty years to the day after the signing of the armistice which ended the Korean War.
Moments before the ceremony started the skies cleared and a glimmer of sunshine filtered through as the New Zealand Defence Force Maori Cultural Group led the contingent towards the two upright granite slabs of the New Zealand memorial.
Forty-five New Zealanders lost their lives in the war between North and South Korea from 1950 to 1953 and 34 are buried in the Busan cemetery along with soldiers from 11 other nations who served in the War and its aftermath until 1957.
Around the small group several other countries paid their respects to their own war dead and strains of the last post could be heard around the cemetery.
The New Zealand veterans have been in Korea since Thursday attending several commemoration services for the 60th anniversary in Seoul and then Busan.
Mr Terry Hitchings who served in Korea from 1961 to 1954 in the Royal New Zealand Artillery's 16 Field Regiment, gave a reading on behalf of his fellow veterans and said he found the experience very moving.
As the Last Post was played a lone dragonfly flitted across the memorial resting for a moment on one of wreaths that had been laid in tribute to the fallen warriors.
Mr Bill Mulhall from Dunedin served in HMNZS Royalist and had not been back to Korea since 1962.
After the service he scoured the headstones for a friend who had not returned home to lay a poppy and reflect.
"I've waited a long time to do this, it means a lot to be able to be here with there men who never left," he said, waving his arm across the rows of headstones.
The veterans are still in Korea and will return to New Zealand later this week.
For more information, contact Defence Communications Group on 021 487 980.
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