Korean War Veteran receives special medal

Chief Petty Officer First Class (Retired) Melvin Hiles, 90, is presented with his Ambassador For Peace medal by Korean Consulate Official Kangjun Lee during a private ceremony at the Kiwanis Village seniors home in Nanaimo on Oct. 8. Credit Garth Hiles. Left: An undated file photo of Melvin Hiles from his first days at CFB Esquimalt.

Right: Chief Petty Officer First Class (Retired) Melvin Hiles, 90, is presented with his Ambassador For Peace medal by Korean Consulate Official Kangjun Lee during a private ceremony at the Kiwanis Village seniors home in Nanaimo on Oct. 8. Credit Garth Hiles. Left: An undated file photo of Melvin Hiles from his first days at CFB Esquimalt.

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

There were hugs, cheers and tears for the family of an ailing veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy when he received an Ambassador for Peace medal for his service in the Korean War.

Chief Petty Officer First Class (Retired) Melvin Hiles, 90, was presented the commemorative medal by Korean Consulate Official Kangjun Lee during a private ceremony at the Kiwanis Village seniors home in Nanaimo Oct. 8.

CPO1 (Ret’d) Hiles served aboard Royal Canadian Navy destroyer HMCS Sioux from June 1950 to March 1951 during his 25-year military career that ended with an honourable discharge in 1973.

The ceremony was attended by his children and other family members, including his 98-year-old sister Laura who also resides at Kiwanis Village. She was moved to tears of joy according to her nephew, 58-year-old Garth Hiles. 

Because of health problems, CPO1 (Ret’d) Hiles was unable to offer an acceptance speech or speak at the ceremony. Garth says his father immediately “perked up” upon receiving the award including an ear-to-ear grin. 

“Dad has always been a man of few words, but he was touched by receiving any form of recognition of his vast sacrifices in his naval career,” said Garth. “He is proud of his country and all the navy has done for other countries in their fight for freedom.”

Garth and his wife Siobhan applied for the medal on behalf of his father.

“When I first found out he was going to receive the award it made me very emotional and it still brings tears to my eyes whenever I think of Dad and others who have served and sacrificed for our freedom.”

The commemorative award contains a medal, pin, and commemorative certificate, an expression of appreciation from the government of South Korea. It is awarded to foreign servicemen and women who served in the Korean War. It was first awarded to veterans as a special memento for those who returned to South Korea through its Revisit Program.

The inscription on the commemorative certificate reads: “When you first arrived in Korea it was a nation with no hope or dream. However, as you risked your life to defend a country you never knew and a people you never met, you left the seeds of hope and a dream; so that Korea can rise as the Peaceful, democratic and prosperous you now know today.”

Melvin Hiles, a Prairie boy

CPO1 (Ret’d) Hiles was raised on farm in Dummer, Sask. He enrolled in the navy on March 13, 1948, at recruiting office in Regina. In 1949, he was posted to HMCS Naden in Victoria where he was then assigned to HMCS Cayuga as an Ordinary Seaman.

His sons say they know few details about their father’s military career and his many deployments during the Cold War. He was like many military men of his era who seldom talked about their service or wartime work.

“My father seemed to always be away on deployment somewhere,” said Garth. “My early childhood memories are of dad sending post cards by air mail to me from all over the world. I often wonder how my mother raised four boys on her own, but I do know the navy families were very close and supported each other while the dads were at sea.”

CPO1 (Ret’d) Hiles’ grandson is carrying on the navy legacy. Leading Seaman Tyler Hiles works in HMCS Vancouver.

For more information on how to apply for an Ambassador For Peace Medal visit the South Korean Consulate Webpage: http://overseas.mofa.go.kr/ca-ko/index.do

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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  1. Marion webb says:

    Beaky! So happy to see the photo of you recieving your medal. we think of you often and trust you are being well cared for. Love Marion

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