Posthumous war honour

May 12, 2018

Colin Hood with his father's Republic of Korea medal

Irene Weir collected her husband Bill's posthumous medal.

Two Deniliquin war veterans have been honoured posthumously with the The Republic of Korea Medal for their roles in the Korean War.

The Deniliquin RSL Sub-branch applied for the medals to be awarded to William ‘Bill’ Weir and Colin Hood Senior who served in the Australian Navy and Australian Army respectively.

The Republic of Korea Medal was introduced by South Korea in 1951 to recognise the assistance provided by members of the United Nations Forces.

Regulations which restricted wearing the medal were overturned by the Australian Governor General last year, after a campaign by the Korean Veterans Association.

The Deniliquin RSL Sub-branch successfully applied for the medals to be issued to Mr Weir and Mr Hood Snr, and they were presented to family members at the local sub-branch’s recent Anzac Eve dinner.

Accepting Mr Weir’s medal was his wife Irene, while Colin Hood Junior accepted his dad’s medal.

‘‘After all these years, finally receiving the medal means a great deal,’’ Mrs Weir said.

‘‘On the night, I was very overwhelmed when accepting the medal because I know that he (Bill) would be so pleased if he’d been able to accept the award himself.

‘‘I had one of my grandsons with me at the dinner, Rohan Dunbar, who travelled down from Cairns for the event.

‘‘Rohan served in the Army Reserves and would always come down and join both Bill and I at the Anzac Day Eve dinner, so it is really great that he is still coming down for that.’’

Mr Weir joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1946 and served on numerous ships during his service.

He served on HMAS Australia with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force from May 1947 to June 1948.

During the Korean War, he served on the HMAS Tobruk from August 1951 to January 1953, when the Tobruk was deployed as carrier escort and performed shore bombardments.

Mr Weir was honourably discharged from service with the rank of Petty Officer in 1964. This June will mark two years since his death.

Mr Hood served in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, enlisting in Melbourne on March 24, 1952 and completing basic training at Kapooka Army Base for 10 weeks.

After another 10 weeks of advanced training in Sydney, he went to Japan for further training in mountain fighting for six weeks.

Colin recalls stories of his father injuring himself because of the nature of the training.

‘‘He broke his left wrist in training,’’ he said.

‘‘After six weeks his plaster was taken off and he was sent on to his next draft as reinforcement to the second battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment.

‘‘He joined the Headquarters Company as special dispatches and was sent up to Hill 159.’’

It was Mr Hood’s job to deliver special messages and communications, passing what was known as the ‘bowling alley’ where shells would go off at 30 second intervals.

The Army soldier was in Korea during the war’s ceasefire, returning home aboard the HMAS Australia and then discharged on arrival, on May 29, 1954.

‘‘Dad would be proud to wear this medal because it represents a major part of his life that was hard and significant,’’ Colin said.

‘‘I was honoured to accept the medal on behalf of my father and the family, especially with him being so connected to the RSL Sub-branch and a member of the band.’’

In presenting the awards at the Anzac Eve dinner, Sub-branch member John Harris paid tribute to all who had served in the Korean War.

He also thanked those members who played a role in honouring Mr Weir and Mr Hood.

‘‘I’d like to thank John Trist who put in the groundwork that enabled us to be able to find and have the medals available to present,’’ he said.

‘‘We do this because it is important that the significance of the service that these men rendered should always be remembered and never allowed to be diminished.’’

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