One of the Far North's very few remaining Korean War veterans has been laid to rest.
Charles Adams (Charlie) Baker, who was an artillery sergeant in what is often referred to in New Zealand as the Forgotten War (1950-53), died suddenly at his home on January 21. He was 88.
Fellow veteran Merv Reid, who was in a signals unit and now lives in Whangarei, remembered Mr Baker fondly. They had met in Korea "on occasion", but had got to know each other well as members of the Korean Veterans' Association. Numbers were dwindling rapidly now, he said, and the Far North/Kaitaia branch had folded two years ago.
Mr Reid said Mr Baker's death was blow.
"He was always our strong man," he said. "We developed a mateship that remained very close for many years," he said.
And even now, so many years later, the people of South Korea remained demonstrably grateful for the sacrifices made by those who served in the conflict. That was made clear in 2015, when Jong Sung Park, then living in Paihia, and his family hosted a luncheon at the Waipapakauri Hotel for Far North members of the Korean Veterans' Association.
Every year, veteran Allen Martin (Kerikeri) said, 30 veterans were invited to South Korea as guests of the government, and were decorated for the service they gave so long ago.
Mr Park said as a boy he had been taught that the United Nations had helped his people fight communism, but that had been no more than an historical fact until he began meeting veterans in person.
"We were the babies when we went there, and now we're the veterans," Mr Baker said.
He was sorry that the soldiers had not got to know the Korean people all those years ago.
"We were in the north, and the refugees went to the south," he said.
"And we spent our leave in Japan. They are a fine race, and we would have had a good time if we had had the chance."
Mr Baker, who was one of several New Zealanders who were awarded presidential citations for the part they played in repelling an attempted North Korean incursion, is survived by his wife Ann, sons Murray and Grant, daughter Kathryn and two grandsons.