By Park Hye Ri
Three European veterans who helped the Republic of Korea military during the Korean War (1950-53) under the United Nations Command will be laid to rest on Korean soil.
The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs on Nov. 4 said it will receive the remains of the three veterans for burial and hold ceremonies for each of them by country on the afternoon of Nov. 7 at Incheon International Airport.
Robert Picquenard of France was his country’s youngest soldier in the war at age 18. He took part in the battles of Arrowhead Ridge and Junggasan in 1952 from September to October.
After returning to France, he expressed his wish to be buried at the U.N. Memorial Cemetery in Korea located in Busan.
The other two veterans were Mathias Hubertus Hoogenboom and Eduard Julius Engberink, both from the Netherlands.
Hoogenboom began serving in the war from May 1952 and was assigned to a security post at a prison camp on Geojedo Island for a year. The ministry quoted him as saying, “After seeing how war inflicted pain on people and affected a country, I did all I could to help the Republic of Korea start rebuilding.”
Serving two tours from February 1952 to November 1954 with the Van Heutsz Regiment of the Netherlands, Engberink led the mortar-launching section on Geojedo and took great pride in serving in Korea. He also expressed his wish to be buried in Busan with his comrades.
The remains of the three veterans will arrive at the Incheon airport on Nov. 7. After a ceremony at the airport on the same day, their remains will be temporarily held at Seoul National Cemetery before their transfer on Nov. 10 to the U.N. cemetery in Busan.
In addition, the remains of British veteran James Grundy, currently held at Daejeon National Cemetery, will be also laid to rest in Busan with the other three. As a member of the body recovery unit of British forces from May 1951 to June 1953, he helped transfer over 90 bodies of fallen soldiers to Busan. Invited by the ministry to visit Korea in 1988, Grundy visited Busan every year over the next three decades on his own to remember his fellow soldiers.
The burial ceremony for the British and Dutch veterans is slated for Nov. 11 and that for the French veteran the next day.
Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs Park Minshik said, “The return of the remains of U.N. war veterans is their reward for the sacrifice and contributions of these heroes who risked their lives to protect the Republic of Korea during the brightest time of their lives,” adding, “We will do everything we can so that these veterans can rest forever next to their fellow soldiers in the Republic of Korea.”
In addition, the ministry since 2015 has conducted a posthumous burial project at the Busan cemetery in accordance with the wishes of U.N. Command veterans or their families. Over the past seven years, 14 sets of remains have been buried at the cemetery.