At the end of World War II, Korea was occupied by the Soviet Union in the north and the United States south of the 38th parallel. In June 1950, armed North Korean troops invaded the south in an attempt to control the entire peninsula. The United Nations responded by organizing a military force to assist South Korea. Canada joined the UN coalition to fight North Korea on June 30, 1950.
The Canadian government deployed three Royal Canadian Navy destroyers, infantry troops and RCAF No. 426 Transport Training Squadron. Less well known was the presence of 22 Canadian fighter pilots in the US 5th Air Force. They had volunteered to fly the F-86 Sabre, the only aircraft able to tackle the Soviets' MiG-15s. The men completed about 50 missions, during which 20 enemy planes were shot down and a number of rail and land convoys destroyed. During the conflict, Omer Lévesque became a flying ace when he shot down a MiG on March 31, 1951. At war's end, Lévesque was awarded the US Air Medal and the Distinguished Service Cross.
Photo: Right, Omer Levesque.