War veteran Charlie Rees spent a year serving in Korea when he was a young man. He was to leave St. John’s today to travel to Ottawa to participate in events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the the war and soldiers who served in it. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
It’s been 60 years since the end of the Korean War and to commemorate, a veteran from this province will travel to Ottawa to take part in a number of events.
Charlie Rees was 21 when he signed up with the forces. He travelled to Korea as part of the 1st Royal Canadian Regiment and spent 12 months there fighting on the side of South Korea.
“Oh my God. When I first went over there, I didn’t know what to expect,” he says.
The monsoons were hitting at the time, and Rees says he and his fellow soldiers spent day and night in the rain, slogging through near-unnavigable mud.
The weather was the fun part.
“Everything was blown up from bombing and shelling and everything else. You often wondered how people lived through it, when you come right down to it,” says Rees.
The local people who did live through it did so graciously and courteously in Rees’ memory. The customs were as unknown to him as the rest of the experience, and the traditional greeting of bowing was no exception.
Reese remembers his reaction at the time.
“I don’t know why they’re bowing to me,” he says with a laugh.