A couple of guys he knew in his hometown of Regina signed up with the Canadian army to fight in the Korean War.
So Don Johnston thought he’d put his name down as well.
And for that, and for serving during the conflict from 1951 to 1954, the Republic of Korea is forever grateful to Johnston, a longtime Enderby resident who recently moved to Vernon, as well as all Canadian soldiers.
The Republic of Korea commissioned the Ambassador For Peace medal to express its eternal gratitude to the 27,000 Canadians who fought to restore and preserve Korea’s freedom and democracy.
“I was quite surprised to receive the medal, I didn’t really know anything about it,” said Johnston, 82, who received his medal at a special ceremony at his Armstrong Royal Canadian Legion branch.
“I am quite honoured to receive the medal.”
Cho Hee-yong, Korea’s ambassador in Canada, said the Ambassador For Peace medal was commissioned as the country marks the 65th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War.
“We Koreans have never forgotten the great legacy of the 27,000 Canadians who fought shoulder-to-shoulder with us,” wrote Hee-yong, “and the brave 516 soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Johnston drove fuel and ammunition trucks in Korea, and was close to some of the fighting.
One time, he was close to an allied group which resulted in Johnston “losing my ear drums.”
“A British artillery group moved in and we didn’t know it,” said Johnston. “They were across the road from where we were going. They let off four big artillery pieces go at the same time and I was no more than 100 yards away from them. It screwed up my ear drums.”
After Korea, Johnston joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and worked in radar in Prince George for 25 years before retiring to Enderby.
Johnston is married to his wife, Anne. They have four boys and a number of grandchildren.