South Korean stamps honour Canadian veteran

South Korea has issued postage stamps honouring a Canadian veteran of the Korean War. The stamps were unveiled June 22, but commemorate the 100th birthday on July 5 of Maj. Campbell Lane, the oldest Commonwealth veteran of the conflict, which took place from 1950 to 1953. At a brief ceremony in Ottawa, where Lane lives, a citation was read from South Korean Veterans Minister Park Sung Choon. “To our knowledge, no other Commonwealth veteran has achieved this most impressive milestone,” it stated. “The 49 million people of Korea send him 49 million wishes for a most happy birthday.”

Lane was in charge of a unit of the Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers during the war. One of two stamp designs shows Lane in military uniform as he appeared during the war, and the second shows a contemporary image of the veteran holding medals. The first stamp dates from before the war, and shows Lane in a captain’s uniform. He was promoted to major before being sent to Korea. The two stamps have a value of 270 won – about 24 cents – representing the cost of domestic first-class mail in South Korea. Following the ceremony, Lane and several other Korean War veterans at the Perley and Rideau Veteran’s Health Centre, where he lives, were awarded Ambassador of Peace medals by the South Korean government. Lane also served in the Second World War. He was nearly 40 years old during the Korean War, making him one of the older soldiers.

Lane’s original army commission was issued in 1932. A career soldier, he left the military in 1965 after more than 30 years of service and became a high school teacher. Both of his brothers also served in the Korean War, one in the Medical Corps and the other as a pilot. The stamp ceremony was one of several events held to mark the 62nd anniversary of the start of the war, which began on June 25, 1950 when North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel border between the two nations and invaded South Korea. The invasion followed a long period of skirmishes and raids across the border by troops from both sides. The United Nations supported the south and committed troops.

The first Canadian soldiers arrived months later and first saw action in February 1951. Eventually, more than 26,000 Canadians served in the war, along with an additional 7,000 until 1955 to supervise the ceasefire. Canada suffered more than 1,500 casualties and more than 500 combat deaths. In 2003, Canada Post issued a stamp commemorat Canada’s contribution in the Korean War. The 48-cent domestic rate stamp features images from three photographs. Shown were an F-86 Sabre, naval personnel patrolling off the Korean coast, and infantrymen in a position the hills of central Korea.

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