The MPVA invited 30 family members of the fallen Korean War heroes from the UK, Canada, Turkey, Australia and the Netherlands. The family members stayed in Korea from October 19 through 25.
The visiting program is eligible only for those who have never visited Korea among the families of 2,300 fallen soldiers from 11 countries who are buried at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, Korea. Family members of the fallen UN soldiers pay tribute to their loved ones at the UNMCK, experience Korean culture and witness the national growth of Korea during their stay. The program started in 2003 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Armistice and total 364 family members from 9 countries have been invited so far.
Among the families of this year’s visiting program was Ms. Aileen Phillis Ryan, younger sister of Pte James Patrick Daunt, the youngest soldier to die during the Korean War. Pte Daunt was 17 when he participated in the War. The “Daunt Waterway” in the UNMCK was named after him.
Ms. Kathleen Patricia Barick whose parents are both interred in the UNMCK also visited Korea. After losing her father Mr. James Thomas Heron during the Korean War, she and her three brothers and sisters had to be separated growing up. The sad story of their childhood gives us a lesson that the Korean War was a tragedy not only to Koreans but also to all the families of 1.95 million veterans from 21 countries who fought in the war.
The invited families visited the Seoul National Cemetery, War Memorial of Korea and the UNMCK to pay tribute to the fallen Korean War veterans. They also attended the UN Day ceremony and a naval review. Panmunjom tour was also included to the program to show the families the reality of divided Korea.
The MPVA plans to extend the eligibility for the program to the families of MIAs to better honor the sacrifices and contributions of UN allied nations and their veterans who defended Korea and its liberal democracy and deepen mutual relations with the nations.