William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD


I just heard some very un-nerving sad, sad news this morn
About the passing of a good friend whom we all know as Norm
Norm was a veterans’ advocate – he lived in the Peg
For veterans’ rights and recognitions from Ottawa he’d beg!

He named peacekeeper lakes, built monuments and more
He advocated for recognition for the forgotten Korean War
Norm stepped on some toes but he did make his mark
He made sure Ottawa’s bureaucrats didn’t keep us in the dark

Norm’s up on that cloud square now he has fought the good battle
Don’t rest easy in Ottawa – don’t think there’ll be more hassle
Norm’s friends will continue to shake the bureaucratic rattle
Farewell my old friend, Rifleman Norman Van Tassel

From: George Morrison
Sent: Monday, December 03, 2007 10:15 PM
To: “Undisclosed-Recipient”
Subject: Norm Van Tassel

Just to let you know Norm Van Tassel passed away this afternoon (Dec 3, 2007). He went in for surgery in the morning, but had to go back in for some emergency surgery in the afternoon and unfortunately didn’t make it.

Korea Vet News
Published by the Korean War Commemoration Council of Canada

Dedicated to the sacrifice and indomitable spirit of Veterans of the Korean War

“A Nation Reborn” by Canadian Artist Ted Zuber
Painting “A Nation Reborn” by Canadian Artist Ted Zuber, Veteran of The Royal Canadian Regiment
Symbolic Canadian statue at Pusan U.N. Cemetary Korea

Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada

December 5, 2007


Norm Van Tassel
Norm Van Tassell
Norm Van Tassel loses bout with cancer after spending long, rewarding life in service to Canada and to his Veteran comrades

We have received word from Winnipeg, Manitoba, that Veterans activist Norm Van Tassel died in the hospital on Monday afternoon, December 3.

Norm was undergoing emergency surgery performed after he was operated on for cancer of the pancreas in the morning.

The proud old soldier wrote to Korea Vet News a few weeks ago regarding the “Turn Toward Busan” November 11 Memorial Day service. He had arranged for a Winnipeg radio station to read verbatim a long message of commendation for all Korean War Veterans all over the world that had been prepared by Kim Jung-bok, Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs of the Republic of Korea.

At the end of his message, Norm confided that he had been diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas and would have to undergo surgery. It was almost as a post script.

Norm kept up his contacts with Veterans in many activities right through until he went into the Winnipeg hospital.

A few weeks before his death Norm and his wife Lynne visited sick and ailing veterans in the Poseidon Care Centre in Winnipeg. Here is what Norm wrote at that time:

One of the sad things that we have not been doing is ensuring we visit those that are hospitalized and are in care. I have attached a few pictures of a couple of our Korea Veterans who have had serious strokes over the past couple of years and are starving to hear from their old comrades.

Roy McIvor and Sidney Church
Roy McIvor and Sidney Church
The picture to the right is of Roy McIvor and Sidney Church. Roy is a former PPCLI and Sidney an RCHA. We have made frequent visits to the care centre to visit Roy and we found out that Sidney was also in care in the same centre. We had a nice visit with them at the Poseidon Care Centre in Winnipeg where they are getting first class treatment and also have gotten support from DVA re pensions, etc., in particular Roy and we thank them. Both Roy and Sidney were happy to see us and we promised them that we would be back very soon.

Here are some highlights from that devoted Rifleman’s life:

  • Born: Digby, Nova Scotia, December 18, 1934.
  • Left school at age 16 to become an Atlantic fisherman
  • Left Digby in 1952 and joined the 2nd Battalion, Canadian Rifle Regiment in Toronto, Ontario
  • Sailed for Korea in 1954 as a wireless operator with the advance party for the battalion which had been rebadged as the 2nd Battalion, The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada
  • Served in the Canadian Army for 10 years

Norm worked in corrections following his discharge, including a period devoted to youth corrections. He subsequently founded and operated three group homes for troubled youths in Winnipeg and a wilderness boy’s camp.

As a member of the Korea Veterans Association of Canada, the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping, the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans, the Royal Canadian Legion and the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Association he carried the torch for fellow Veterans always.
He served as president of Unit 17 of KVA Canada for three terms and later founded the Sergeant Tommy Prince Memorial Unit 46 of the KVA in Winnipeg. Mister Van Tassel also was founder and president of the LGen R.R. Crabbe Chapter of CAVUNP in Winnipeg. He also helped to found CAVUNP units in Brandon and Regina in Manitoba and in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Among his many notable achievements was his unswerving dedication to honour those who fell in the Korean War and on post armistice duty in Korea. He chaired a committee that successfully lobbied to have lakes and other geographic features in Manitoba named after the 37 Manitobans who lost their lives in Korea and 17 members of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery who were killed en-route to the Fort Lewis debarkation station in November 1950.

He tirelessly pursued Veterans causes and kept alive the memory of all who served and of Canada’s obligation never to forget them. His accomplishments could fill pages and still not tell the story.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Star by the Korea Veterans Association of Canada, that organization’s highest honour. He also was presented with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in recognition of his outstanding service to Canadian Veterans organizations and causes. He received the Veterans Affairs Minister’s Commendation Award for the same high service.

Here is how soldier poet, Billy Willbond, MSM chose to remember him:

I write this through tears, as he was an old and very good friend! Norm did so much for the Veterans’ Movement in Canada and he was a tower of strength through the long years we fought for the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal and the placing of the names of our fallen in the 7th book of remembrance. In Manitoba he was the mover and shaker to get recognition for Canadian veterans from the Korean War to Missions served in by Canadian Peacekeepers. He will be sorely missed by veterans all across this Great Nation! At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember Norm – He will be sorely missed, indeed.
RIP buddy

We will remember Norm Van Tassel