In a room at Extendicare Michener Hill surrounded by loved ones sits Horace Warden, a Korean War veteran who served with the Royal Canadian Signal Corps.
Last week marked the 64th anniversary of armistice and although Warden was unable to make it to the Cenotaph downtown due to his illness, but friends and family met at Extendicare instead.
Warden currently has trouble speaking, so his good friend Don Holloway, who also served in Korea in 1953 and 1954 recalled past moments, speaking on Warden’s behalf. Warden and Holloway are the two last known Korean War vets in Red Deer.
Warden served in the Korean War in 1952 and 1953 and was a radio operator, doing communications.
“Radio operators in a brigade like that have several tasks. Number one, they keep in close contact with all the other units because we were with the Americans, the Aussies and the Brits, and it was important to have communication with everybody,” said Holloway.
Holloway, who’s originally from Newfoundland moved to Red Deer in 1977, and met Warden in the early ’80s.
“We had an organization here called the Korea Veterans Association, and this is where I met Horace,” he said.
At that time, there were 37 of them, with only two now remaining.
Warden grew up in Condor, Alberta and was very familiar with the Red Deer area and knew a lot of people.
“Horace was excellent to share stories with, and jokes,” said Holloway with a laugh.
Warden was a retiree from Michener Hospital, and later took on a position with the Royal Canadian Legion, which was all voluntary work.
His position was known as service officer. That position was involved in taking care of veterans. He later ended up getting Holloway a pension.
“I guess you would have to say that he was 110 per cent dedicated to that position of service officer. Veterans were calling him anytime from six in the morning until midnight to tell their stories, and obviously he had a good rapport with Veterans Affairs in Ottawa as well, because it seemed like he could make things work when nobody else could.”
Warden’s wife, Donalda said he was a member of the legion for many years. He was a member of Branch 35 for more than 28 years, and had been service officer of Branch 35 since 2001. He also served as second vice president and as honour guard, assisting in more than 125 veterans’ funerals.
When he fell ill, his wife said he had to retire.
“He just was not a person to sit around. He was just a very energetic person. He didn’t marry until late in life. He’s my second husband. My first one passed away and he took over two teenage boys and raised them beautifully,” she said.
She said he has done so much for so many people.
“He was just a very well organized man. He had his own office. Nobody touched any of his papers, they didn’t dare!” she said with a smile, adding that he’s also never lost his sense of humour.
Looking at one side of the wall in his room at Extendicare Michener Hill, one would see just how many medals and photos hang there for his constant devotion to what he has done.
The Royal Canadian awarded him life membership in 2003. He was also presented with the Certificate of Merit in 2003 for his many years of dedicated service. On Nov. 11th, 2005, Warden was given the Alberta Centennial Medal for his outstanding contribution in helping veterans and their families as well as commemorating their service and sacrifice, including the Poppy Campaign and the Candlelight Tribute.
Fast forward to many years after the war, both Warden and Holloway have gone back to Korea as visitors.
“I think I can speak for him as well as myself on this one – we were totally surprised at the work the local people have done to restore their country. As a matter of fact they took it from nothing. It was nothing when we were there the first time,” said Holloway.
The two men have remained good friends and will never forget their time in the war.