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‘They’re still saying thank you’: Korean War veteran on 70th anniversary of Battle of Kapyong

Major Murray Edwards attends a ceremony for his 90th year certificate presented by Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry at Veterans Memorial Lodge at Broadmead in November 2019. LOOKOUT NEWS/PETER MALLETT.

Canadian veteran Major (Ret.) Murray Edwards is a survivor of the Korean War.

He was a battalion intelligence officer serving under legendary Col. Jim Stone, the commanding officer of the second battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.

“Most of us had never heard of Korea,” Edwards said in an interview with 980 CKNW’s Jawn Jang.

“Once we were there, one of the things that stand out in my memory are the people of Korea. They were most generous in their relationship and made no bones about the fact that they appreciated what was being done for them.”

April 22 marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong. It was a three-day battle between the combined communist forces of North Korea and China and the United Nations forces including soldiers from South Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

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Edwards and the rest of the regiment members played a vital role in securing the important Kapyong Valley.

“The American unit was retreating before the [North] Koreans. We were in a blocking position and covered the American retreat and then we were able to stop the North Korean advance,” Edwards recounted.

The battalion, positioned on a hill to the west of the Kapyong river, managed to hold the fragile line, he said, providing support for the retreating units to fall back to safety, while the Canadians impressed with their resiliency in combat.

To this day, the Battle of Kapyong is highly regarded as one of the finest examples of Canadian courage and skill.

Even if Edwards didn’t know how to find Korea on a map, he understood the importance of Canadian participation in the war.

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“I think that if the United Nations hadn’t stepped in, the complete country would now be communist,” he said.

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Read more: ‘The great fighting spirit of Canadians’: Why my parents immigrated here after the Korean War

The Consul General of Korea in Vancouver, Byung-won Chung, agreed.

“When the Korean War broke out in 1950, the Canadian government responded very quickly by sending 27,000 troops,” Chung said, making it the second largest troop contributor.

“The Korean government and people are forever grateful for the sacrifice of the noble Canadians who fought in this important battle.”

Today, South Korea is home to many of the world’s leading tech companies. It has more than 51 million citizens despite being about a quarter of the size of British Columbia and has remained a constitutional republic since the end of the war.

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“Looking back, we were just happy that we were at the right place at the right time,” said Edwards. “The people of Korea still appreciate what was done all those years ago. They’ve never forgotten.”

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