A terminally ill Comox Valley veteran has received a prestigious medal from the Korean government.
William (Bill) Nasby, 89, who is suffering from Stage 4 cancer, recently received the Ambassador for Peace Medal from representatives at the Korean Consulate in Hospice at The Views in Comox.
His friend, fellow veteran and past president of the Korea Veterans Association of Canada Inc. Heritage Unit Peter Seiersen was instrumental in ensuring Nasby received the award.
“Bill was a sniper in our regiment the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and served in the Korean War War from Sept. 1951 to Dec. 1952,” he notes. “I visit Bill regularly and many of our discussions are reminiscing about our time in Korea during the war.”
Seiersen explains the Korean government created the award originally to be given to veterans who came to Korea under their revisit program. In later years, government officials from their embassy in Ottawa and consulate offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal would make presentations of the medal to veterans at various events.
“In talking to Bill I discovered that he had not received the medal, so I contacted the Korean consulate in Vancouver to see if they had any medals on hand. The reply was yes. I emailed Bill’s particulars that evening and expected that they might courier the medal to me so that I could present it to Bill.”
To Seiersen’s surprise, one day later, he received a call from Consul General Gunn Kim from the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Vancouver, who offered to personally present the medal to Nasby, and received the blessing of his family for the visit in hospice.
On Nov.22, Kim, along with Associate Police Attache Sung-gu Kim, came to Comox and presented the medal to Nasby with his family by his side.
“Bill – who was very low and his passing could come at any moment – however, had miraculously recovered and was fully awake and aware of what was happening. He could not speak above a whisper but he was able to communicate with everybody present,” recalls Seiersen.
In attendance were his oldest son Bill Jr., daughter Erica and husband Chuck with their three children and Tracy McKenna, in addition to Seiersen and his wife Young Sook.
“To Consul General Kim it was a privilege to be able to attend in person, meet the family and make the presentation of the medal to Mr. Nasby. There is no country that is more appreciative than the Republic of Korea for the service of the men and women who helped them save their country from the invading North Korean Communists and later joined by the Chinese Peoples Army.”
Seiersen says the Korean government shows their appreciation to veterans in a variety of ways, including the Revisit Program for Veterans where they subsidize the airfare to the country and pay 100 per cent of all costs while in Korea.
“There are two more veteran revisit programs of a smaller nature which are July 27 (date of Armistice) and Nov.11,” he says.
“There is a program called The Peace Camp where grandchildren of veterans are brought to Korea and matched with Koreans of their age. Also, they bring back family members of veterans who are interned in the United Nations Cemetery in Busan. Their generosity, appreciation for the help given to them is backed up by a slogan, ‘We will never forget you’ .”