Canadian plans to walk 187 miles on 2 continents to commemorate Korean War battle
Stars and Stripes February 28, 2023
A Canadian man is planning to walk 187 miles on two continents to commemorate one of the bloodiest battles of the Korean War.
The Battle of Kapyong is memorialized at two sites in Canada, where Guy Black, of Coquitlam, British Columbia, walked the 186 miles between them in 2021.
This year, he plans to start his walk in Canada, fly to South Korea and continue to the former Kapyong battleground east of Seoul on April 20 to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of combat in the Korean War.
Although an armistice signed July 27, 1953, ended actual fighting, a peace treaty was never concluded, and North and South Korea remain technically at war.
When Black arrives at the Kapyong battlefield 37 miles northeast of Seoul, he plans to attend a battle ceremony and lay a poppy wreath he is bringing from Canada.
“I'm just hoping that it will draw a little bit more attention to the Korean War, and just remembering the guys that died,” Black, a medals and commemoration consultant for Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, said by phone Feb. 8. “We just can't forget them.”
The 27th British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade, two battalions each of British, Canadians and Australians, for three days in April 1951 held off a Chinese division whose spring offensive buckled a division of the South Korean army. New Zealand artillery and U.S. tanks provided fire support.
The Australians, called up to stem the Chinese advance, took the heaviest casualties at the outset. As the battled neared its conclusion the night of April 24, the Canadian commander refused to withdraw his battalion from its hilltop position, which the Chinese surrounded and pummeled with heavy fire. The Canadians hunkered down, and, resupplied by air, kept the Chinese attackers at bay.
For that feat, the 2nd Battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry was awarded a U.S. Presidential Unit Citation, a “very rare” honor for a Canadian unit, according to Veterans Affairs Canada. Ten Canadians were killed and 23 wounded in the fight, according to the agency’s website.
Black started his journey as a volunteer at Seaforth Highlanders of Canada Museum and Archives in Vancouver, where he heard from other volunteers — Korean War veterans — of their experiences.
After a veteran brought him some memorabilia from the 50th anniversary commemoration of the war, Black contacted the U.S. 50th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee and joined as a volunteer.
“They always say Korea was in the shadow of the Second World War, which was much bigger. So, no one really knew about the Korean War and when you read about when the veterans came back from the war, they didn't get a parade. Nothing happened for them. There was no recognition,” Black said.
Black wrote articles in newspapers and magazines and over 35 proclamations for cities and districts within the province of British Columbia, he said, and recently submitted one to the province for the 70th anniversary of the armistice.
“And once I got started on and I kept going, and the more that I did, the more that I could see what was not being done,” Black said. “I want to get the Korean War out of the history book and put it into, like, the newspapers and TV news.”