BOMBALA High School student Tim Olsen spent Anzac Day reliving Australia’s military history in South Korea.
Tim was one of 10 students selected from around NSW to walk in the footsteps of soldiers from the Korean War as part of the NSW Premier’s Anzac Memorial Scholarship.
The 13-day journey took them to sites of military and cultural significance in South Korea.
Tim said the experience was a once in a lifetime adventure that had changed his perspective of the world.
“This is the first time I have ever travelled overseas,” Tim said.
“We had a great time, I think one of my favourite experiences was at the United Nations’ memorial at Busan.
“There each student had to research a fallen soldier and give a speech about their lives.”
Tim gave his speech on Horace William Madden who enlisted for service in the Korean War in 1950 with the third Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.
“He was a really remarkable soldier, the only Australian to receive a George Cross for bravery during the Korean War,” he said.
“He was taken prisoner of war and during his time and he had to walk 300 kilometres on 100 grams of food a day.
“He would often give that food to other soldiers.
“He was really defiant to his captives and I found the experience of talking about him to the other students while in South Korea to be mind-blowing.”
The Korean War was fought from 1950 to 1953 and cost the lives of 340 Australian soldiers but is often overlooked in our country’s history.
During the trip the students visited the Kapyong battlefield, the Demilitarised Zone that straddles North and South Korea and the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul.
Tim said his favourite part of the trip was when the group of students were taken to a Kapyong High School that was built by an American soldier in 1951.
“We went there on Anzac Day and it was a formal occasion so we wore our suits and were shown around the school,” he said.
“The students spoke English and we got to know them. After we were shown around there were some students playing a game of kick tennis.
“One of the teachers said that we shouldn’t join in because we were in our suits but I thought ‘this is a once in lifetime opportunity’ so I kicked my shoes off and played a game, it was awesome.”
Tim said the most surprising thing was how appreciative people were towards Australians.
“One of the things I noticed was how appreciative people were of the United Nations troops,” he said.
“For us the Korean War is very much the forgotten war but wherever you go their people are grateful for the service our country gave.”