MNO citizen key contributor to creation of naval monument

Submitted by: HooJung Jones

naval monument
HooJung Jones (left) and Don Kennedy (right) who are
committee members of the KVA Unit 26 Memorial
Project standing beside the RCN Ships in Korea
Memorial Monument.

Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizen Don Kennedy, who is a retired Canadian Armed Forces Major and an honourary Korean War veteran, was the fundraising director and designer of the RCN Ships in Korea Memorial Monument that was unveiled on July 28 at Spencer Park in Burlington.

A year ago, Kennedy and Andy Barber, a Korean Naval veteran who served on HMCS Haida; Ron Kirk, a Korean War Naval veteran who served on HMCS Iroquois; Gerry Trudell; and Rev. Bill Thomas, formed the KVA Unit 26 ROK Memorial Project Committee to raise funds to invite Korean War veterans from Korea to Canada to participate the commemorative events of the “Year of Korea 2013” and “Year of Korean War Veterans”.  The project also included the idea to erect the Royal Canadian Naval Ships monument to commemorate the Destroyers that served during the Korean War and the UN Peace Keeping duties from 1950 to 1955.

The monument is to honour the eight Canadian Destroyers (H.M.C.S. Athabaskan, H.M.C.S. Cayuga, H.M.C.S. Sioux, H.M.C.S. Crusader, H.M.C.S. Nootka, H.M.C.S. Huron, H.M.C.S. Iroquois, H.M.C.S. Haida) that served during the Korean War and UN Peace Keeping duties and the nine crew members that were either killed in action, lost at sea or died in service. The names of the sailors are: LISKA, Vince, A.B. HMCS Cayuga, GAUTHIER, Leon Armand, O.S. HMCS Nootka, LAKER, Frank Richard, A.B. HMCS Sioux, MOORE, Robert John, A.B. HMCS Sioux, SKAVBERG, Robin Jensen, HMCS Athabaskan, A.B. BAIKIE, Elburne Alexander, A.B. HMCS Iroquois, BURDEN, Wallis McBurnie, A.B. HMCS Iroquois, QUINN, John Louis, MiD, Lt .Cdr, HMCS Iroquois, TORRAVILLE, Ian Thomas Lang, A.B. HMCS Iroquois

There were over 200 guests in attendance at the unveiling ceremony including Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, Veteran Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, Senator Yonah Martin, Mike Wallace, M.P. Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring, Rear Admiral Jennifer Bennet, R.O.K. Defence Attaché Jang Min Choi, Deputy Speaker of R.O.K. National Assembly Kap Yoon Jeong, R.O.K. Consul Sang Soo Lee, 24 students from Korea, and Korean War veterans and their family members.

The morning rain caused worry however, as soon as Rev. Bill Thomas blessed the monument; a stream of light came from the sky and shone upon the monument stopping the rain like a miracle. The nine sailors’ spirits were with them and their names will be remembered for many generations.  They now have a resting place at home.

The Korean students provided readings of poems they wrote for the occasion. There was not a single dry eye when the young Korean students read their poems, “Thank you Korean War veterans” and delivered the signed thank you banner to the Korean War veterans.

The Halton Naval Veterans Association provided invaluable financial support for the project. Without their support, the monument would still be a dream and another 60 years would have passed by.  The committee members would also like to send their sincere appreciation to Veteran Affairs Canada for the monument grant and all the generous donors.

“Together, we preserved an important part of the Royal Canadian Naval history which was forgotten for over 60 years,” said Kennedy. “At the event, a Korean student whispered in my ear “God Bless you” and I would like to resend his message to all Canadian Naval veterans who served during the Korean War and UN Peace Keeping Mission and their family members. God Bless You All!”

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