Kevin Bertram is travelling to South Korea but not as an ordinary photo snapping tourist. The 27-year-old Private from the Adelaide suburb of Klemzig is a member of Australia’s Federation Guard which will be leading the formal ceremonies marking the 60th Anniversary of the Armistice that saw an end to hostilities in the Korean War.
The Federation Guard provides ceremonial support for Australian Defence Force events such as Guards of Honour, Service birthday ceremonies and guards for high ranking international diplomatic and military visitors.
“I am looking forward to travelling to a country that I would normally never visit. I am also looking forward to meeting the Korean War veterans, visiting the Demilitarised Zone and Kapyong where Australian troops fought during the Korean War,” Kevin said.
The former St Paul’s College student was previously based with the 6th Battalion, of the Royal Australian Regiment at Enoggera in Brisbane and also served in the Middle East in 2010 where he was awarded the Australian Defence Medal, the NATO Medal, Afghanistan Medal and Australian Active Service Medal among other honours.
The former supermarket employee is one of 13 guardsmen who make up the Korean contingent that comprises representatives from each of the services.
The guardsmen have put in a great deal of preparation for their roles in the Korean ceremonies. Many long hours have been spent perfecting their drills. They must be not only physically prepared but also mentally prepared. Each member has undergone briefings on Korea and events that led to Australia’s involvement in the Korean War to ensure they appreciate where they are going, the significance of what they are doing and who they are representing.
Many admit they will come away with a new appreciation of the history and significance of events on the Korean Peninsula 60-years ago.
Meanwhile, Kevin has been perfecting his precision and timing with his colleagues in the Guard during the opening and closing ceremonies of the Hall of Remembrance at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
In Korea, Kevin will stand as a solemn sentinel throughout the memorial services and will feature during commemorations at battlefields made famous by the courage of Australian troops. His every move will be closely watched by Korean veterans and their families.
At the end of his Korean tour, Kevin is looking forward to returning home to catch up with friends and getting back into his wetsuit and scuba diving.