Before a crowd of Korean War veterans, Peter Elliott, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently was honoured by the Republic of Korea for service in restoring and preserving freedom and democracy to that land.
Officiating was Col. Paul Kim, Republic of Korea Army (ret.), on behalf of Kim Yang, Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, ROK, and Park Seh-Jik, MG, ROK (ret), Chairman of the Korean Veterans Association.
“We cherish in our hearts the memory of your boundless sacrifices in helping us re-establish our free nation,” said Mr Kim in the solemn ceremony. “On behalf of the government and people of the Republic of Korea, thank you for your service.”
Born in South Australia, Peter was working for a news and mail newspaper when, by 1951, a major conflict had developed in Korea. Says Peter, “I felt, as did many young men, the need to enlist.”
“In many ways we were like a group of young men whose story is told in The Book of Mormon,” he muses. “They were not soldiers, but as the account goes, ‘they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives.’”
By 1952, Peter was posted to Korea and served there and in Japan for two years.
“In Australia the war is called the ‘forgotten war’, but the people of South Korea have never forgotten the assistance that we were able to give them in their time of need. In receiving the Ambassador of Peace” medal,” Peter states, “I receive it on behalf of all from Australia who volunteered to fight.”
“War brings out the best and the worst in men, and on a particular occasion I found myself in very difficult circumstances,” he recalls. “In desperation I prayed to God. I was not a member of any particular religion and had never really prayed before, but my pleading resulted in a beautiful calming feeling of peace.”
Peter returned to Australia and visited different Christian churches, searching for that peace he had felt earlier. It was not until 1960, when two young Mormon missionaries visited his home, that he again experienced the feeling.
“My wife and I and our then three children became members of the Church, having learned that the true Church of Jesus Christ had been restored to the earth in its fullness,” says Peter.
At the memorial service, Peter laid a wreath on behalf of the Church. Receiving the “Ambassador for Peace” citation and medallion with Peter was veteran Denis Hartnet. Both men now live on the Gold Coast.