'Humbling experience' in Korea
Cadet returns from trip marking armisticeLOUISE BERWICK
It was the sound of Southland bagpipes that echoed over a war cemetery in Korea.
The sound came from an Invercargill teen, who has returned from what he called a ''trip of a lifetime'' after commemorating the deaths of New Zealand soldiers in the Korean War.
Verdon College deputy head boy Benjamin Simpson was one of five cadets chosen to fly to Korea to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice.
Benjamin played the lament on the bagpipes at United Nations War Memorial Cemetery in Busan during a memorial service to commemorate the anniversary.
The two-week trip was humbling and ''quite an honour'', he said.
The teen meet war veterans, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries.
The veterans shared their inspirational stories with the young cadets.
One had left Invercargill to fight in Korea when he was about the same age as Benjamin.
''They are pretty much just like your grandfather.''
Their stories were a glimpse into the lives of the young men who left their families and friends to serve their country.
It was amazing to see the impact they had on the country and the help that they gave, he said.
''It was really eye-opening.''
Benjamin was chosen from a camp of cadets selected from throughout the South Island earlier in the year.
He was chosen because of his leadership, attitude and hard work and named top of the course.
Originally he was supposed to just be a part of the commemorations but when his mum mentioned to the organisers he could play the bagpipes, he ended up with a bigger role than anticipated.
His so-called audition was at a dinner before they flew out. He passed with flying colours so his pipes made the plane.
He ended up piping ''everywhere'' but it was likely to be the highdhlight of his piping career, he said.
The experience was likely to go down as one of the most memorable in his life, certainly one of the most humbling, he said.
''It makes you feel proud to be a Kiwi.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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