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Canadian Peacekeeping Stories

On this page, you will find stories by current and former Canadian peacekeepers about their adventures, hardships, humorous incidents, and so on. They are true stories and reflect what our peacekeepers go through during their tour of duty. I certainly hope that you enjoy reading them. (NOTE: All stories are copyright by their respective contributors.)

The Naked Truth || The Big Mac Attack || Here Comes the Rainy Season
Movies and Missiles || 'nuff Said || Gorilla Attack in Haiti || The Prince of Peace
Wheelchair Soldier || The Fire

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The Fire...

Submitted by: Dave Butcher

While in Bosnia in 1996 I was stationed at Camp Maple Leaf in Zgon. The camp was about 400 troops including engineers, armored, artillery, infantry, and support staff. I was awoken one night and told we had been contacted by the British camp in the nearby town of Kljuc (Kly-uch) and told there was a fire. The assumption was that the fire was at the British camp and everyone who could help was being sent.

Upon arriving in the town, the fire was obviously not at the camp but in a 10 story apartment building occupied by Bosnian Muslims. The British soldiers, most of whom were still in the bar when they learned of the fire, had run the kilometre down the road with the mattresses off their beds to cushion the fall of anyone choosing to jump from the building. Others had stormed into the smoke filled building to help rescue the occupants. The Canadian soldiers had a more sensible approach. Ambulances were brought to treat the injured, a water truck to fight the fire, a Badger (Leopard tank hull with a dozer blade) to fight the burning bushes next to the building, and a crane which could reach to the ninth floor. A basket was attached to the crane and people stranded on the upper floors were lifted down.

Once the building was empty, two Bosnian firemen, one who had no shoes on and both of whom were drunk, were loaded on the basket with a fire hose. The basket was raised to the upper windows, however, as it was just hanging, the pressure of the hose made the drunken firemen swing from side to side which resulted in the spectators on the ground getting about as much water on them as the fire. With the help of the British and Canadian soldiers the fire was brought under control, the building was saved, and no lives were lost.

Wheelchair Soldier...

Submitted by: Billy Willbond

WHEELCHAIR SOLDIER

HE PROUDLY WORE HIS BLUE BERET
AS HE WALKED ACROSS THE SAND
HIS THOUGHTS WERE OF CANADA FAR AWAY,
FROM THIS BLEAK AND WARTORN LAND

HE COULD HAVE STAYED AWAY FROM HERE
AWAY FROM THIS PLACE OF HARM
HE COULD HAVE STAYED IN VEGGREVILLE
AND WORKED HIS FATHER'S FARM

HE VOLUNTEERED, HE CHOSE TO SERVE
HE WANTED TO PROVE THAT HE HAD NERVE
AN AIRBORNE SOLDIER HE WOULD BE
A HALO JUMPER FALLING FREE

HIS POSTING OVERSEAS CAME THROUGH
HE CHANGED BERETS FROM MAROON TO BLUE
AND EVERYTHING WAS GOING FINE
UNTIL HE STEPPED UPON THAT MINE

AT NDMC THEY WERE GOOD TO HIM
MADE HIM A LEG AND TAUGHT HIM TO SWIM
THEY GAVE HIM A MEDAL - A U.N. GONG
AND TOLD HIM HE COULD NO LONGER SOLDIER ON

HIS HEART WAS HEAVY AND FILLED WITH DESPAIR
AS HE WHEELED HIMSELF TO CHAPEL IN A CHAIR
HE HAD COME HOME LESS A LEG TO HIS WIFE
BUDDY - BEHIND HIM - HAD LOST HIS LIFE

God Bless the Peacekeepers!

The Prince of Peace...

Submitted by: Billy Willbond

THE PRINCE OF PEACE WEARS A BLUE BERET
OR
GOD LIVES IN ALL OF US

I don't know if God lives in temple or church
- in a synagogue, cathedral or mosque.
In my heart I feel his existance is real
By his love for the child that is lost.

Mortars rain down on village and town
Assault troops then even the score
A few survive, one or two are alive
Wee Orphans, the Children of War.

Again and again our brave U.N. men
Gather up those who remain
Taking them to the rear, away from the fear
The death, the suffering, the pain.

Out of a shack it's door burned black
came a whailing a loud crying sound.
By a wall of sod was a wee child of God
A miracle baby was a found.

In all the smoke tough peacekeepers joke
holding back tears rage and fear.
In the canteen those things they have seen
are flashed back o'er pitchers of beer.

I question if God lives in temple or church
synagogue, cathedral or mosque.
He lives in the foxhole the bunker the trench
Good shephard to the child that is lost.

Gorilla Attack in Haiti...

Submitted by: Darren Larson

This story begins about a Newfie in Haiti. Shortly after our arrival in Haiti in Sept of 97 a few of our personnel had the opportunity to go up the mountain to visit the Baptist mission near Port Au Prince. This mission has good food and lots of shops to visit. There are plenty of local merchants that will haggle with you to buy things. (Usually you can get the stuff for half the price.) Any way the Newfie Cpl "Shamus" Dwayne O'Reilly (and god knows how I got stuck with three Newfies in the Det of 10 pers.) decides to go visit the local zoo. There is an alligator a few peacocks and of course the famous monkey. This monkey was outside the cage and chained to a nearby tree. As Shamus walked past the savage beast to leave the zoo the monster sprung out and attacked him, grabbing a hold of his leg and locking his fingers, attempting to bite him. This caught Shamus off guard. He did not know if he should shoot the beast or try to break free. Finally the beast freed his hands and let him go.

Shamus returned to camp and told us about the whole story with the savage beast. I was not up on the mountain at the time to witness the whole ordeal, but decided to plan a trip to go see for myself this so called beast that Shamus described as big as a silver back gorilla.

Upon arrival to the Mission I had lunch and immediately went to check out the so called beast. This was not a silver back gorilla but more like the size of little two year old. It was a scrawny black spider monkey that stood to your knee. I don't understand how this little thing could have almost dragged a 180lb human being to the ground. As soon as Shamus approached the monkey in the cage the second time it started to freak out again. Maybe Newfoundlanders and monkeys don't see eye to eye. We had a good chuckle about the whole situation, Shamus still swears to this day that the monkey was much bigger and more ferocious than all of us have witnessed.

'nuff Said...

Submitted by: Thomas O'Shea

While serving in Cyprus in 1964, our mountain OP was visited by an old Greek farmer on his way to tend his fields. He travelled daily in the company of two rather scragly camels. He also had a craving for our rations (Why? I'll never know.) so we traded for cold french fries and lamb chops (Why? I'll never know.) that were cooked by his wife. One day, one of the lads stated that the lamb chops had developed a rather unfamiliar taste. We didnt want to offend him, so we continued to accept his charitable gift until one day we noticed that he had only one camel. When asked where the other one was, he sheepishly pointed to the "lamb chops"... 'nuff said.

Movies and Missiles ...

Submitted by: Cpl Sean Kelcey

I can count on one hand how many times the bad guys deliberately fired at us while with CANBAT 1 in Croatia in 1994. There is one time that stands out in my mind because, I was probably one of four people that didn't know it actually happened.

I was the duty NCO in the mess at Kamp Krusty, home of C Coy, 1PPCLI, in Miranje, Croatia. I was running the movie "Commando" with Arnold Schwarznegger full blast on the TV for the few customers I had. As anyone who has seen the movie knows, the last 20 minutes or so is rather noisy, as Arnold proceeds to demolish an island single- handedly.

Well, 2200hrs rolled around and I closed the mess down and went to take the money and videos back to the CQ. As I walked out the door, I see the proverbial fertilizer hitting the ventilator - the QRF running about, APC's warming up, people shouting at each other. I didn't think much of it, just went and dropped off my stuff. I then proceeded to the CP to use the phone to call home. Big mistake. The duty officer is just a little agitated; apparently they had the sentry call in 2 "BombReps" from just down the road. How odd, since we were in such a quiet village. Oh, well, I just went about my business and went back to my room to go to bed.

When I got back, I was greeted by " Where the hell were you when we were running to the bomb shelter with our guns and stuff after we were shot at?"
"When was this ?", I asked, a little taken aback.
"Oh, around quarter to ten," was the response.
"Watching a movie", was all I could come back with.

It seems that while Arnold was busy blowing up the little island, someone had fired an M-80 anti-tank rocket at us. By some combination of bad Eastern Bloc technology and increased blood alcohol levels, the rocket fell short by about 150 metres. This is the only way the Serb could have missed, as we were lit up like a big, white, Christmas tree and had the only lights on for about 5 kilometers.

Oh, well, nobody was hurt. Given some of the other things they had been doing to us around that time, we all had a good laugh at someone's expense.

Here Comes the Rainy Season ...

Submitted by: Major Chris R. Shelley

I was serving in 89 Rotary Wing Aviation Unit, Tegucigalpas Honduras, in 1990. About half way through the tour, the flight offices shifted from a beat-up old hangar at the airport to a much newer villa nearby. The nicest feature of the villa was that it had a toilet, something the hangar had lacked.

We had been in there for a week or so when the rainy season started with a typical torrential downpour. In the morning, everything was dripping wet, and water had leaked into the villa. As it happened, I went to use the toilet and saw that there was no toilet paper. I went to the closet where a box of toilet paper was located, and in the dark I rummaged around feeling for a dry roll, because the rain had gotten into the closet through the roof. Eventually, I found a dry roll, went to the bathroom and took care of the paperwork, so to speak.

Not ten minutes later, I looked out my office door and saw the maid with the toilet paper box. She was taking the damp rolls out onto the patio to dry in the sun, but before she did so, she turned the box upside down and dumped everything out. Imagine my surprise when about 10 scorpions fell out of the box, the very one that I had stuck my hand in a few minutes earlier! Apparently, they had been washed out of the roof tiles and into the closet by the rain, and had taken refuge in the box. I guess I'm lucky none of them hung onto the roll I had used in the bathroom!

Zagreb CommCen

The Big Mac Attack

Submitted by: Frank Misztal

I was a communication detachment 2 I/C (second in command) in Zagreb, Croatia in the fall and winter of 94/95. The Canadian Contingent HQ Communication Center (CANCONHQ COMMCEN) was built by the serving members of the detachment and was made up of 2 Iso containers which were joined together to form one structure.

One side contained the office and the other was the actual commcen, where there was a window used for HQ personnel to pass messages for the operator to process. This message window had a canvas cover to protect the couriers from the weather while delivering or picking up messages.

This cover was somewhat crude, unstable, cumbersome and leaked when raining. After scrounging for proper material, I built a wooden cover which replaced the canvas one. I was rather proud of the shelter and suggested that a good coat of paint would put a nice finishing touch to it. One of our detachment members, Andreas, was quite resourceful and offered to complete the job.

While on a midnight shift and the COMMCEN was rather quiet, Andreas did the painting. We had a look at it in the morning and admired the job, but Andreas announced that it was not done as the shelter only had one coat of white paint and that he would finish it at his earliest opportunity. I then glanced around the equipment tent and noticed red and yellow paint, so I asked him what it was for. He said not to worry about it and I left it at that.

A short time passed and we were busy with other things, so no other mention of the paint job was made. But, while I worked a midnight shift, I could hear footsteps approaching the commcen message window and opened it. There stood a French peacekeeper trying to peer inside with an inquisitive look on his face. When I asked if I could help him, he looked at me with a puzzled look and said: "No, I'm sorry, I thought this was MacDonald's.", then left muttering something under his breath. I scratched my head, grinned, then thought that perhaps the wooden cutout of Ronald MacDonald that we had nailed high on a tree as a joke weeks before had confused him.

But, the next morning, just before coming off shift, I did a routine walk around the commcen and stopped dead in my tracks. What I was looking at was the message window shelter painted red and decorated with the "golden arches" of MacDonald's. I just stood there and laughed. By the way, the big "M" above the doorway had the small letters "e-s-s-a-g-e-s" added to it.

The Naked Truth

Submitted by: Christopher Saunders

While in Cyprus with 2RCR in '91, I was stationed with Rural Coy. One of our duties was to man the observation post where we had to salute all approaching vehicles. After a couple of months on the line, we all had become quite bored and started to play pranks on each other.

One night, over a couple of pints, my friend Matt said to our Warrant Officer, " The next time you drive up to our O.P., I'm going to step out and salute you with nothing on but my U.N. ball cap, a big smile and my rifle." Our W.O. dismissed this with the usual "Yeah, what ever".

Two days later, I was tasked to drive the W.O. into town for something and, as we approached our O.P., out comes Matt with nothing but his ball cap, rifle and a big smile. It was one of the funniest things that had happened during our whole tour. Unfortunately for Matt, the W.O. did not share my sense of humour. Matt spent many extra shifts on the O.P. after his brazen display.

This page and contents are copyright © 1996 - 2013 Frank Misztal.
Kingston, ON, Canada