William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

AN ODE TO KEN UMPHERVILLE

Ken Umpherville helped Canada win the American Citation
He fought hard and brought credit upon this Great Nation
A Korean War Veteran, he was a hero to us young recruits
We talked – sitting on our barracks boxes –shining our boots

Ken was my platoon sergeant in B Company, 1 QOR of C
Along with Machine Gun Bill Fisher Merv Sneddon and me
Merv too, he was AIRBORNE and a Korean War Vet
Bill and Ken wore the citation were they proud-you bet!

When we went over to Germany I lost track of Ken
But I heard the lads talk of him time and again
I heard he was ill – poisoned by Government Service
Our friends started dying and that made me nervous

The Government waits until most of the veterans are gone
It is then they all admit that perhaps they were wrong?
Ask your God to ease the suffering of my old Pl Sergeant, Ken
He served this great Country with brave Korean War men!

Author’s Note: Inspired by the Victoria Times Colonist Article of September 4, 2008 – reproduced below

Atomic Veteran’ Compensation Called Joke

CALGARY — After decades of pressure for compensation, Ottawa announced yesterday that “atomic veterans” — about 900 soldiers who were deployed at atomic-bomb test sites in Nevada half a century ago and showered with radiation — will be eligible for a special payment of $24,000.

The payment was quickly labelled “a joke” by the association representing the remaining veterans and their widows — some of whom have filed a class-action lawsuit against the government — and called an election ploy on the eve of an expected federal campaign.

The Atomic Veterans Recognition Program will offer $24,000 “ex gratia” payments to military veterans and technology workers from the Department of National Defence who participated in nuclear weapons tests in the United States during the Cold War.

It will also compensate those who participated in the decontamination of the Chalk River, Ont., nuclear reactor after two accidents in the 1950s.

Jim Huntley, spokesman for the Canadian Atomic Veterans Association, said the compensation offer falls short of what’s needed for the hundreds of veterans and their families who’ve already died, and others who continue to suffer. — CanWest News Service