Veterans who served New Zealand in the Korean War are invited to register expressions of interest in attending commemorations to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, in the Republic of Korea in July this year.

New Zealand answered the first United Nations call for assistance in Korea on 29 June 1950, and maintained a significant presence there until 1957.

New Zealand gunners played a vital role in Korea, including in the Battle of Kap’yong between 23 and 25 April 1951, supporting 3 Battalion Royal Australian Regiment in halting a Chinese advance.

The Royal New Zealand Navy also had a significant role in the war, with HMNZ Ships TUTIRA, PUKAKI, ROTOITI, HAWEA, TAUPO and KANIERE helping to transport supplies from Japan to South Korea, and protecting South Korean-held islands.

During the seven years of New Zealand’s involvement in Korea, approximately 4700 personnel served in Kayforce, and a further 1300 served on RNZN frigates. Forty-five men lost their lives, seventy-nine were wounded, and one member of Kayforce was taken prisoner and held in North Korea for eighteen months before being released.

To be eligible to attend the commemoration, veterans must have qualified for either the Korea Medal, the UN Service Medal clasp ‘Korea”, or the New Zealand General Service Medal (Korea 1954-1957), and have been attested into the New Zealand Armed Forces at the time of qualifying service.

Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand General Manager, Rick Ottaway, said it is always a privilege to take New Zealand veterans back to the countries in which they served.

“Whether they served on land or sea, New Zealanders made a great contribution to the Korean War,” Rick Ottaway said.

“The frigates completed eight tours of duty, and altogether steamed 339,584 miles and fired 71,625 rounds of ammunition, while the highest daily total of shells fired by New Zealand gunners on a single day numbered 10,000 shells.

“These men served New Zealand well and this is a great opportunity for them to re-visit the Republic of Korea, and remember those who did not return home.”

Up to thirty New Zealand veterans will be drawn by ballot and funded to attend the commemorations, with preference given to those who have not previously received government support to attend a commemoration in the Republic of Korea.

Veterans wishing to travel to the Republic of Korea will need to meet strict medical and fitness criteria to ensure they are well enough to travel as part of the delegation and participate in the commemorative events.

Costs associated with travel, accommodation, transport and medical costs will be met by Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand.

Commemorations to mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice will also take place in New Zealand in June.

Veterans wishing to register interest in attending commemorations in the Republic of Korea or in New Zealand should contact Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand, by freephone on 0800 483 8372 or email Expressions of interest must be received by Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand by 28 February 2013.