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Dutch Korea veteran to host international reunion for Canadian group

South Korea awards visiting soldier

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

EDMONTON, Alberta - War veteran Jean Pierre Van Eck never expected to return to Korea after serving there in 1953-4 with the Dutch Regiment Van Heutz as part of the U.N. force. He immigrated to Canada in 1958 and settled in Edmonton where he has been active in the local chapter of the Korea Veteransí group ever since it was founded 18 years ago. Just recently, Van Eck was appointed National Chairman for the 2002 International convention organized by the Korea Veterans Association of Canada. Subsequently, the Dutch veteran received an invitation to visit South Korea.

The retired mechanical engineer who worked on oilfield equipment answered a call for Korea veterans to organize a local group in 1982. Van Eck was one of 3,807 Dutchmen (117 were killed and three are still missing) who served in Korea between 1950 and 1954. He was there for fifteen months. The Canadian contingent of the United Nationsí force was much larger making it possible for the veteransí group to build up a current national membership of about 7,000, spread out over 67 branches. The Edmonton branch of 104 members will host the September 2002 biennial International Convention.

Van Eck had not expected to get a call to come visit Korea where he is to receive the Ambassador of Peace Medal from the South Korean government. Van Eck is one of two Canadian veterans invited this year.

The Edmontonian only met a few Dutch Korea veterans is his travels throughout Canada. One day another Edmontonian recognized Van Eckís Korea insignia and introduced himself. The second man, from Victoria, BC, is involved in Canadian regiment veteransí group PPCLI as national president. The Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry like Van Heutz fought on the Korean peninsula. Mr. Van Eck can be reached at 1-780-488-5845 or 13203 - 131a Ave., Edmonton, AB T5L 3P1 Canada.