By Shirley Reaman
Special to the Rimbey Review
A few weeks ago one of Canada’s own heroes received the Sovereign Medal recognizing exceptional volunteer achievements of Canadians in a wide range of fields.
The medal, one of 10 given to deserving recipients in Red Deer, was presented to the 84-year-old by Korean war vet Andrew Moffat’s widow, Daphne Moffat was a long time coming.
As with all those who receive medals and commendations, there lies a story.
The story of Horace Warden began on Jan. 17, 1933. He was born during the depression when jobs were vanishing, banks were foreclosing and grasshoppers and droughts invaded the prairie provinces.
When he was a toddler, only two-years old, his short life changed forever.
His mother was cleaning some grease cups with a solution of lye and water. Her little boy grabbed the cup and drank the solution, thinking it was water.
The child was rushed to the University Hospital in Edmonton.
The hospital was to be his home for the next five years and there was a long series of operations to clear the passage from his throat to his stomach.
During that time his diet consisted entirely of liquids although he was allowed to suck all day suckers to ease the burning in his throat.
At the age of seven, Horace was finally allowed to come home to the family farm.
“Horace and I became good friends, both at home and at school. He was fun to be with and quickly made friends. Even the teachers liked him.”
Horace never really took to farm life and by the time he was fourteen he joined the Reserve Army. When he was 17 he attempted to join the air force, but was turned down.
He went on to Currie Barracks in Calgary.
By the time Horace had turned 18 he was told he had three days to get his affairs in order and report back to the barracks.
He came home for his short leave.
“I remember him in our kitchen with our mom and siblings all gathered around. Horace had our complete attention. He told us he was the oldest in the family and he had the highest IQ. I thought he probably did at least as far as I was concerned as I had failed Grade 1 and was left handed. Our younger siblings paid no attention to the announcement and, no doubt, could care less.
Four days later he and hundreds of other young men shipped to Germany. They left by train and by ship. They were called the peacekeepers.
“We were all just kids and the Germans didn’t want us there,” said Horace.
“It reminded them of the war they didn’t win.”
Horace also spent time in the Congo with the radio communications branch of the Royal Canadian Army. He learned every dot and dash of the Morse Code.
He recalls his time in Korea as a peacekeepers.
“We were the peace keepers, but the bullets were real.”
Horace retired from active military service in 1963, working at various jobs around central Alberta.
He married Donalda McConnell in October, 1983.
After retiring from the army, Horace became very active in assisting veterans and their families who qualified with post-traumatic stress disorder by helping them receive back pensions.
At present, he has helped 1,200 veterans. He also assisted National Defence in having 185 Canadian peace keeping service medals presented to veterans or their next of kin.
Horace is a lifetime member of the Red Deer Legion and has served as vice president of the Legion and the Korean War Veterans Associaton..
“In present day language my brother would be called a game changer. So many men are grateful for what this man has done to change their lives.
He’s made a difference. He truly has.”