Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Korean Vet and Lord Strathcona's Horse (Part 2)

Harold Finnegan was a member of the Special Force that fought in Korea under the Canadian and UN flags. The Special Force was a mixed bag of men and boys who signed up in droves, flooding recruiting offices. Many, like Harold, were youngsters who had “missed the fun” when WW II ended in 1945. Others were veterans whose lives as civilians didn’t work out for one reason or another. And they certainly didn’t know what they were getting into. 

Why a “Special Force”? The Canadian army was exhausted and run down after herculerian efforts in World War II. And when the call went out to members of the United Nations to do a “police action” Canada, as a charter member of the UN, wanted to be there. So, the thinking went, rather than send battle-scarred regiments which had settled into peacetime duties, recruit a new bunch: hence a Special Force, whose members signed up for eighteen months—plenty of time to do Canada’s duty in the Hermit Kingdom, right?
Fortunately for the Canadians who volunteered, they had excellent leadership. And, at the end of the day, the men who volunteered did their country proud. More than five hundred of them did not come back from Korea. Harold Finnegan is one who did.

 Harold's medals, above, include the Canadian Forces Decoration with bar, UN, NATO, Korea, and Vietnam service decorations. (The latter was earned prior to the Vietnam War, following the illfated Paris Peace Accord.)

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