Veteran honoured by Korean government

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Article / March 6, 2017 / Project number: w-ar-17-veteran-honoured-korean-government

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By Grant Cree

Edmonton, Alberta — Canadian Army veteran Stanley Ridsdale was honoured by the Korean government during a ceremony on January 10, 2017 at the Kipness Centre for Veterans in Edmonton. Mr. Ridsdale, a Métis from Northern Alberta, was a Private with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) during the Korean War. Prior to that, he was a farmer in northern Alberta and a rodeo bronco buster.

“He’s lived an exciting life, but when Canada gave the call in 1951, he wasted no time in volunteering to be up front,” John MacDonald told the audience of several dozen people comprised of Kipness residents and military veterans. Mr. MacDonald is President of the Aboriginal Veterans Society of Alberta, and he nominated Mr. Ridsdale for the award in 2016 as a way to express appreciation for his military service.

The once-proud warrior now suffers from dementia and is confined to a wheelchair. Six soldiers from 3rd Battalion, PPCLI (3 PPCLI) escorted Mr. Ridsdale into the meeting area for the ceremony. “As a soldier, it’s great to see guys get the recognition, especially after many years of being retired,” said Master Corporal Matt Pagliero of 3 PPCLI. “Recognizing things that happened in the past is important because it still has a huge relevance today.”

On behalf of the South Korean government, James Yeom and Thomas Rho from the Edmonton Korean Canadian Association presented the “Ambassador for Peace” certificate and medal to Mr. Ridsdale.

“Thanks to you, Korea has been able to flourish as a democratic and prosperous nation,” said Mr. Rho as he read aloud the commendation. “You have played an important role for giving a strong bond between our two peoples which we continue to enjoy today. You gave Koreans the greatest gift of all, the gift of freedom, peace and hope.”

Immediately after the ceremony, numerous veterans joined a lineup with Mr. Ridsdale’s friends to congratulate him as everyone celebrated the occasion.

“This is big news. I’ve always told Stan that he’s always been my hero. I’ve always said that and joked like that with him,” said Frederick Pruden, a family friend who has known Mr. Ridsdale for 30 years.

“Stan was all fight all the way and he still is. I’m so happy that he got this award today for the big fight,” said Mr. Pruden. “He’s told me that he always volunteered for night patrol, he and his friends would always go out on night patrols. They’d take about five or six spare Bren guns because every seventh shell was a tracer.” Mr. Pruden explained that the night patrol soldiers fired so many rounds that the Bren gun barrel heated up quickly, hence the need to frequently change with other Bren guns.

“It means a tremendous amount, giving someone who deserves credit,” said Mr. MacDonald as he watched veterans and guests shaking hands with Mr. Ridsdale. “To see all these people coming out who don’t know Stanley, but are here to honour and respect him and remember that he’s a veteran. It’s indeed my pleasure to work for the veterans, and particularly veterans like Stanley.” 

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