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Soldierís widow fights for medal

Canada wonít accept Kuwait honour

Thursday February 16, 2006

YARMOUTH ó Sue Riordon has a display case full of medals her late husband received for serving in the first Gulf War. But the Yarmouth woman says thereís one missing from the collection.

Itís a medal Kuwait has been trying to give Canadian Gulf War veterans since 1993.

Ms. Riordon, widow of veteran Terry Riordon, found out about the Liberation of Kuwait medal in 1995 through the Kuwaiti embassy.

"This medal is a thank you, itís a recognition of the liberation of Kuwait," she says. "Itís a fantastic thing Kuwait wants to do for Canadians."

But Ms. Riordon said she doesnít have the medal because Canada wonít accept it.

An employee of the Kuwaiti embassy said his country first presented the 4,097 medals to the Canadian government in 1993. When they werenít given to veterans, Kuwait minted another set of medals and gave them to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in October 2005.

The employee, who wonít give his name, said he has no idea why the second set wasnít distributed.

Lucie Brosseau, media officer with the Governor Generalís office, said Ottawa wonít be giving the medals out in the near future. Canada has its own medal to honour Gulf War veterans.

She said that in 1991, the Gulf and Kuwait Medal was given to veterans and Canada has a policy against presenting duplicate medals from foreign countries.

Her husband, 45, died in April 1999 of what Ms. Riordon believes were the effects of exposure to depleted uranium, although the military has disputed this. He received a medal from Saudi Arabia for the time he served in the Persian Gulf.

"Itís not permitted to be worn on the uniform because itís an unofficial medal."

Ms. Brosseau said thatís true; a veteran can accept a duplicate medal from another country if he refrains from wearing it on his uniform, but Canada wonít distribute the medals.

The Kuwaiti embassy employee said his country simply wants to express its gratitude to Canadian Gulf War veterans and giving them a medal is the best way to do that.

"Weíd like to express our feelings and thank the Canadians who helped us during the Kuwait invasion (by Iraq)."

Ms. Riordon said Kuwaitis should be able to thank veterans if they want to and her husband should receive the medal he wanted so badly.

"We liberated Kuwait, they are happy, they want to honour our veterans and our veterans deserve that honour.

"Iím fulfilling a promise to Terry," she said. "He adored the people of Kuwait. This medal means a lot to him."

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