Standing up for Canberra

The Chronicle: Saluting our Korean War veterans

Apart from episodes of M*A*S*H, Australians have very little knowledge of the Korean War.

About why it began and what happened there.

About why Australia was there, with 20 other countries.

About the unique framework under which we were there that influences the strategic environment today.

About how many Australians served and made the ultimate sacrifice.

It is, the “forgotten war”, which is unfortunate because 17,000 Australians served in the war, many of them coming straight off the reconstruction efforts in Japan after the Second World War.

It is unfortunate because four million people died through the course of the war.

1216 Australians were injured and 29 were prisoners of war.

And tragically, 340 Australians died.

Our lack of understanding of Australia’s contribution to the Korean War is also unfortunate because there were so many firsts.

It was in an apple orchard in Yongjyu that the first combat action was fought by 3RAR.

It was the first and only United Nations-initiated war.

It was the first war that raised the question about the need for an Australian ensign on Royal Australian Navy ships.

And it was the war that earned the 3RAR the title ‘Old Faithful’.

As a nation, we need to better understand the contribution so many Australians made to the Korean War.

In Parliament I recently saluted the Magnificent Eight. Eight veterans who recently returned to Korea to be honoured for their service.

I saluted:

• Canberra’s Lieutenant Commander Les Powell (Retired)
• Gordon 'Taffy' Hughes
• Graham Connor
• Les Hall
• Jack Lang
• John Murphy
• Colonel Peter Scott, DSO (Retired), and
• Ray Seaver.

We Will Remember Them.