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Korean War veteran to be honoured on Anzac Day

Benalla's Kevin Harper will be honoured in the motorcade lap of honour at Melbourne Cricket Ground tomorrow for his service during the Korean War.

MONIQUE FREER April 24, 2014 3:37am

Elaine and Kevin Harper, with Kevin's medals presented to him for his service in the Korean War.


On Anzac Day every year Kevin Harper is overwhelmed with memories.

On that day 63 years ago Mr Harper was in the middle of North Korea defending the advances of Korean and Chinese troops.

‘‘There were quite a few casualties, I can’t remember how many, I think there were 30 something killed and many, many wounded,’’ Mr Harper said.

‘‘It just brings back memories of that particular time.’’

Mr Harper and the other members of the third battalion were awarded the US Presidential Unit Citation for their role in the Battle of Kapyong on April 24 and 25, 1951, and this year he will be honoured again.

The Benalla resident is one of two Korean War veterans to be selected to ride in the motorcade lap of honour at Melbourne Cricket Ground ahead of the traditional Anzac Day AFL match between Essendon and Collingwood.

A quiet man, Mr Harper said to be selected was a great honour for him.

‘‘It’s hard to put it into words, I’ll be honoured,’’ he said.

‘‘I probably will (feel emotional) because I presume there’ll be a big crowd there.

‘‘The Korean War has never been recognised that much and it helps with those things.’’

Mr Harper joined the army in 1949 at the age of 18 and was posted to Japan in 1950.

In June 1950 the Korean War began and after the battalion was reinforced Mr Harper and the third battalion was sent to Korea shortly after his 19th birthday.

‘‘We weren’t very equipped for cold weather, so we got the American clothing,’’ he said.

‘‘You’d be sweating underneath all the clothes because we had American furline coats and when you settle down into the trench at night the sweat would freeze and you’d put your hand inside and scrape the ice off your body.’’

Mr Harper was one of seven children, and his five brothers all served in wars.

‘‘Four of them were in the second world war (as well as) my sister’s husband —my brother-in-law— and the other brother has done two tours of Vietnam in the Vietnam War, and I was in Korea,’’ he said.

‘‘I don’t know how the mum put up with it, six sons and a son-in-law all at war, and they all came home,’’ his wife Elaine said.

Upon his return from service Mr Harper married Elaine and they had four children, Garry, Susan and twins Lynne and Leigh.

Although not a staunch football fan, Mr Harper said he was proud to be part of the motorcade at the MCG on Anzac Day.

‘‘(The Korean War) hasn’t had much recognition, it only happened five years after World War II finished and it hasn’t been recognised that much,’’ he said.

Mr Harper will travel to Melbourne with his son Garry, however, Elaine said she would watch the procession proudly from home.

‘‘We’re all proud, it is a big thing and a big battle for the men,’’ she said.

 

Anzac Day will be commemorated in Benalla on Friday at the following services:

Dawn service from 6am to 6.30am at Benalla Botanical Gardens;

Street march at 10am, assembly in Bridge St CBD outside KFC;

Official service at 10.40am at the cenotaph, Benalla Botanical Gardens.

All the festivities will be held at the cenotaph followed by a wreath-laying ceremony.

For more information, phone Anna Wise on 57621206 or email benallarsl@mcmedia.com.au

Across the district many towns will also commemorate the occasion:

Lima Anzac Day commemoration at 10am. A wreath-laying ceremony will be conducted at the Lima school community centre;

Warrenbayne Anzac Day commemoration from 2pm to 4pm at Warrenbayne Hall.

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