23 July 2013
The twenty-nine veterans and support staff lined up in front of the RNZAF 757 before departure.
Twenty-nine New Zealand veterans who served in Korea left New Zealand today from Whenuapai Air Base to attend commemorations in the Republic of Korea for the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice.
The veterans are travelling to Seoul and will attend several memorial ceremonies across four days.
Thirty-four New Zealanders are buried in the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, Korea where the veterans will attended a memorial service and have the opportunity to pay tribute to comrades interred there.
The Korean War was broken into two individual phases or ‘wars’, the first from June to September 1950, and the second from October 1950 to July 1953.
New Zealand answered the first United Nations call for assistance in Korea on 29 June 1950, and maintained a significant presence there until 1957.
An Armistice agreement was finally signed between North and South Korea on 27 July 1953 at 10am and came into effect twelve hours later.
Approximately 4700 personnel served in Kayforce, and a further 1300 served on RNZN frigates. Forty-five men lost their lives and 79 were wounded. One member of Kayforce was taken prisoner and held in North Korea for 18 months.
To be eligible to attend the commemorations, veterans must have qualified for either the Korea Medal, the UN Service Medal clasp ‘Korea’, or the New Zealand General Service Medal (Korea 1954-1957), and have been attested into the New Zealand Armed Forces at the time of qualifying service.
Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand General Manager, Rick Ottaway, says he is pleased so many New Zealand veterans are able to attend the commemorations.
"For many veterans, this will be the first time they have returned to Korea and it will be an emotional experience as they remember their time there, and pay tribute to the comrades they lost."
All veterans have been medically assessed to ensure they are fit to travel and participate in the commemorative events in Korea.
The delegation will travel to the Republic of Korea by Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Boeing 757. All international travel, accommodation, on-ground transport, and medical costs for veterans are being funded by Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand.
For further information please contact Defence Communications Group, on 021 487 980.
New Zealand gunners played a vital role in Korea, including in the Battle of Kapyong between 23 and 25 April 1951, supporting 3 Battalion Royal Australian Regiment in halting a Chinese advance.
The Royal New Zealand Navy also had a significant role in the war, with HMNZ Ships TUTIRA, PUKAKI, ROTOITI, HAWEA, TAUPO and KANIERE helping to transport supplies from Japan to South Korea, and protecting South Korean-held islands.
Veterans attending commemorations in Korea are from the following locations in New Zealand:
Auckland (Mount Albert, Manakau, Milford, Takapuna, Remuera, Devonport, Orewa, St Heliers), Carterton, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Hawera, Kerikeri, Mount Maunganui, Nelson, Rotorua, Timaru, Waitara, Whanganui, Whangarei.