It was a very special and symbolic day for war veteran Ken Howlett on Friday, who was presented with an Ambassador for Peace Medal by the Republic of Korea.
Joined by his wife and daughters at the Bunbury Returned and Services League (RSL) Hall, the humble Mr Howlett was overcome with emotion when he was presented with the medal.
“This is quite a surprise for me because I really thought that we had been forgotten,” he said.
The medal has been struck to honour and thank those who were attached to the United Nations forces in Korea in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.
Mr Howlett joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1949 and spent 12 years in a permanent position there.
After serving in Japan in the 77th squadron for most of the year of 1950, Mr Howlett arrived in Korea in December, 1950.
After an accidental injury, he was brought home in 1951, but served for the Air Force again in Malaya in 1953.
But he could’ve never imagined he would be awarded with the prestigious medal, having been led to think by everyone he just had to make an appearance at the RSL Hall to fill in paperwork to perhaps receive a Medal some day in the future.
A number of important people turned out to watch Mr Howlett be awarded the honour, including Bunbury City Councillor Murray Cook and WA Honorary Consul for the Republic of Korea Fay Duda.
WA Korean Veterans Association President Jinjil Lee travelled from Perth to present Mr Howlett with the Medal.
Speaking in Korean, Mr Lee acknowledged the sacrifice of Mr Howlett, and many other Australian servicemen, during the effort to re-establish peace in Korea.
“It is my honour to attend the RSL Club here today,” he said.
“We came here to pass our gratitude and thank you to Mr Ken Howlett on behalf of the Republic of Korea.
“We thank you for coming to Korea and risking your life and we hope there is always happiness and health in your family.” Federal member for Forrest Nola Marino also attended, thanking Ken, and also his family for their service during the conflict.
“Ken, for you, I hope this is a wonderful personal recognition that you will hold close to your heart,” she said.
“Thank you for what you did, not just for Korea but for the regional peace that we also enjoy.” Bunbury RSL President John Gelmi said it was an honour to watch a Bunbury local veteran receive recognition for his service.
“I think this is just wonderful for Ken and the recipients of this Peace Medal,” Mr Gelmi said.
“With Korea, it tends to be a little bit forgotten and quite often there is no recognition of the Korean conflict.” The Ambassador for Peace Medal can be awarded to any service man or woman who served in the Korean conflict.
For more information, visit the Bunbury RSL.
Source: Bunbury Mail.