(Updated 2 Nov 13)
I was born in Namur, Belgium on 27 April 1946, after my parents left Poland in search of work following the end of World War II. My family then emigrated to Canada in June 1956 in search of a better life. When I arrived here, I could communicate in 3 languages (Polish, French and Flemish) but now had to learn a fourth one. I've since lost my Flemish, starting to regain my French and maintained my Polish.
Most of my life was spent in the Toronto area, where I graduated from Central Technical School in applied electronics in 1966. In the spring of 1967 (Canada's Centennial year), I became a Canadian Citizen (my Centennial project). I am currently married to Donna (nee MacKinnon of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) and have two sons, Chris (currently a member of the Canadian Army - Regular, who has served two tours in Afghanistan) and Andrew. I also have a married daughter, Jeanine, who lives in Barrie, Ontario.
My military career started in high school, where I joined the Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps which was affiliated with the Queens Own Rifles of Canada and attained the rank of Cadet Major (the system was different in those days). Let it be known that prior to 1966, cadet service was compulsory in high school for grades 10 and 12, but a student could volunteer in grade 9. Believe me, it was very difficult to be in the military during the sixties, but I was determined.
On 7 November, 1962, I became a member of 8th Signals Regiment, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals in Toronto (later known as 709 Communication Regiment and is currently 32 Signal Regiment). After 15 years there and at the rank of Warrant Officer, I transferred to the Royal Regiment of Canada. I guess I needed a change of pace and wanted to find out what the "grunts" were all about. Prior to going to the "Royals", however, I applied to join the Regular Force, but was told that I was "too old" at the age of thirty.
After having spent 5 years with the "Royals", where I appreciated the camaraderie and learned infantry skills, I decided it was time to return to the Sigs and transfered back to 709 Communication Regiment in 1983. I stayed with the Sigs (where I attained the rank of Master Warrant Officer) until February 1989.
In 1988, the Canadian Charter of Rights did away with age discrimination and I applied (again) to transfer to the Regular Force in September 1988. Finally, in February 1989, my lifelong dream was fulfilled. I was accepted (as a Corporal at the age of 42) and took my first posting to 1 Canadian Signal Regiment (later known as 1 Canadian Division Headquarters and Signals Regiment, then Canadian Forces Joint Headquarters and Signals Regiment) in Kingston, Ontario as a radio operator.
During my stay in Kingston, I was able to complete 2 United Nations peacekeeping missions. My first mission was in the Golan Heights (Israel/Syria) in 1991 and my second one was served in Bosnia/Croatia in 1994/95. In August 1995, I was posted to National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa.
While in Ottawa, I flew to France as part of an honour guard, where I had the privilege and honour of participating in ceremonies of remembrance at Vimy Ridge (where Canada accomplished one of the biggest victories of the First World War) and Beaumont Hamel (where the Royal Newfoundland Regiment valiantly fought and few survived in the same war).
During that time (7-10 November, 1997) I also participated in the burial of 3 remaining crewmen of a Second World War Halifax bomber found in a bog in Belgium. They were buried in a small cemetery just outside Brussels, next to the first 4 members of the same crew. These were memorable events I will never forget and it was also the first time I set foot on Belgian soil since I left in 1956.
I retired from the Canadian Forces on 26 April 2002, after over 40 years in uniform and settled in Kingston. I currently occupy my time by court-mounting military medals and, to keep my computer skills up to date, I work part-time as technical support for a local Internet service provider.
AWARDS / RECOGNITION RECEIVED
SOME NOTABLE THINGS I'VE DONE AND LIKE TO DO
This page is Copyright © 1997 - 2013 Frank Misztal.
Kingston, ON, Canada