Veterans, students, and politicians gathered in Langley Friday to commemorate the anniversary of the 1951 Battle of Kapyong, one of the most important battles involving Canadian soldiers in the Korean War.
The event was held at the Gapyeong Stone memorial in Derek Doubleday Arboretum. Gapyeong County had the stone sent to Langley in 2019 to commemorate the battle and Canada’s connection to South Korea.
“This monument will teach us and our next generations about the Korean War,” said Tae Young Kim, 93, the president of the Korean War Veterans Association.
A number of Canadian Forces veterans, as well as several Korean-Canadian veterans of the Korean War, were present at the ceremony.
Shaun Francis of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry described the battle, and the role the PPCLI played in 1951.
A mixed UN force of Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders, backed up by an American unit of Sherman tanks, put up a hasty defence to the spring offensive launched by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army (PVA), which was backing North Korea.
The Australians took the brunt of the first attack, after which the Princess Pats were encircled on a hill.
“The Patricias were told to make a last stand,” said Francis.
They fought off a nighttime attack and the PVA was unable to dislodge them, suffering heavy casualties.
The PVA withdrew the next day.
The battle was one of several engagements that blunted the spring offensive and prevented Seoul, the capital of modern South Korea, from being captured.
Federal, provincial, and local politicians all took part in Friday’s event, as did local high school students.
Members of the 20th Century World History class from Langley Secondary pinned poppies to the jackets of Canadian and Korean veterans present at the event.
Doug Hadley, past president of the Aldergrove legion, read the honour roll, listing the Canadians who lost their lives in the Battle of Kapyong.
The event also marked the official unveiling of the Korean War Memorial Garden, including a small ornamental pond, which was added to the stone starting last year.
The event was organized and MCed by Michael Chang, a Langley businessman who was instrumental in bringing the stone to the arboretum, and in raising money for the traditional garden over the last 16 months.
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