Royal Navy veteran Ron Telfer, 89, was surprised to receive 35 masks from the Korean government on Wednesday as a thank you for his service during the Korean War. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Royal Navy veteran Ron Telfer, 89, was surprised to receive 35 masks from the Korean government on Wednesday as a thank you for his service during the Korean War. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Korean government surprises Oak Bay veteran with gift of masks

Scottish-raised resident celebrates gift of 35 KF94 masks

Ron Telfer was so pleased on Wednesday to receive a present in the mail from the Korean government, the Scottish-raised Oak Bay resident put on his 50-year-old kilt and hit the town.

The 89 year old, who fixed Royal Navy Fairey Fireflies which were used in the Korean War, was sent 35 masks by way of South Korea, and the Korean consulate in Vancouver, as a thank you for his service.

South Korea sent 500,000 masks to veterans in 22 countries that participated in the Korean War between 1950 and 1953, marking the 70th anniversary since it started.

Telfer wears a 3M mask but now has seven packs of KF94 masks that come in packages that, aside from the KF94 symbol, have only Korean writing on them. The package also came with a letter of thanks, and English instructions for the mask.

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“I’m overwhelmed by their kindness,” Telfer said. “I am very thankful. The Korean government has always been very kind.”

No matter where he is in Canada on June 25, Telfer finds the nearest war memorial and lays down three roses.

Two red, one white, to honour the Canadian flag. June 25, 1950, is the day North Korea invaded South Korea. The country was in a state of transition after the Soviet Union and United States pushed Japan back out of Korea at the end of the Second World War. While Telfer served with the Royal Navy, Canada was also heavily involved, and sent 26,000 soldiers and more than 500 lost their lives.

Up until COVID-19 showed up, Telfer was part of a community of about 15 surviving Korean war veterans in Greater Victoria that met monthly at Esquimalt’s Ward Room.

“What has always surprised me is how kind the government of South Korea is. Imagine sending masks to all these people. I’m overly pleased.”

Canadian veterans of the Korean War who were not sent masks can contact the Korean consulate in Vancouver.

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reporter@oakbaynews.com

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