Posts from the ‘Military’ Category

The Former Yugoslavia, 1992

41FdSqn2ICI am getting older; a significant milestone just snuck up on me. Out of the blue, I just realized it has been 25 years since I wore the Blue Beret, providing engineer support to the first troops to deploy with the United Nations Protection Force in the Former Yugoslavia.

It seems surreal that the anniversary has sprung upon us so quickly and so silently. But given the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy, it is fully understandable. What we did pales in comparison to the deeds of those who fought in the Great War.

Operation Harmony, which started at the end of March 1992, was the United Nations’ response to the civil war that had torn the Former Republic of Yugoslavia apart. First Slovenia broke away; then Croatia. This schism was the start of the falling dominoes; the breakup of countries behind the Iron Curtain continued over the next two decades.

The fall of the Berlin Wall and Germany’s eventual reunification led Ottawa to believe that Canada’s Army Brigade in Germany was better used to foster world peace than to stand on unnecessary watch for the Russian Horde. This decision led to a commitment that was to last for decades.

When the word came out that the Van Doos and the Combat Engineers would deploy, I was a 28-year-old captain, the second-in-command of 41 Field Engineer Squadron. Even though the Army trained me well, I was naïve and unworldly; I understood tactics, but only in the world of training exercises, field deployments, and simulations. This deployment was not training – it was the real deal. Ironically, given the pace of overseas operations that happened after, we thought that chances like this do not come often in an Army where a tour in Cyprus was rare and hunted.

Even though my ex-wife and I were expecting our first child in 8 months and I would miss most of the pregnancy, I was raring to go!

In the weeks before deployment, there were countless hours spent preparing for the mission. It was a frenzy of refreshing military skills, health checks, preparing and loading equipment and creating list after list after list for headquarters all  over the world – New York, Ottawa, Lahr, Croatia…14390997_1812611432353853_8031978281664538878_n

But the preparation is not what creates the memories.

Most importantly, I  remember that Sergeant Cornelius Michael Ralph, CD attached to thePhoto of Cornelius Ralph 4 Combat Engineer Regiment from 22 Field Squadron, Gagetown, New Brunswick, died when his vehicle struck a landmine on August 17, 1992 – tragically, the first casualty of many in that theatre of operations.

I remember my bewilderment and dismay at seeing how horrible humankind can be. We were emotionally battered by signs of how merciless, how cruel, and how callous one human being can be to another. The barren, scorched earth harboured the sights and smells of untold horrors inflicted on the innocent, and perhaps, the not –so-innocent.

14370443_1812611409020522_6749738250785751572_nI remember the utter destruction of the town of Vukovar, which suffered the most vicious fighting of the war.  Mindless destruction and ruination caused by vengeful actions and spite filled the town. Factory chimney stacks with strategically placed tank rounds and destroyed bridges, defiled places of worship, ruined houses, businesses, hospitals, schools – all raped by high calibre weaponry and shells.  It was an old-time Hollywood war movie set – except it was real.

I remember the sites of mass graves – rows and rows of temporary markers: Christian crosses or Muslim crescents on the markers. I remember memorials near wells and in relatively open fields kilometers from villages; these spaces having witnessed acts that were unfathomable to young, trusting Canadians.

I remember sad looking people trying to scrape together a meagre existence. To them we were a glimmer of hope.

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The Yugoslav Flag draped among the ruins.    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/451204456395012969

And I remember my first, first-hand experience of coming face to face with men who had fought and were still fighting with real bullets – dispensing and experiencing death with their own hands. Their cold eyes, their swagger, cockiness and disregard for life were scary.  Their open disdain was a result of combat experience, and they took every opportunity to prove their machismo – every meeting punctuated by shot after shot of caustic plum Slivovitz brandy washed down with tetra packs of orange juice or a can of Orange Fanta. To refuse the glass of liquid fuel was an insult to their pride and created an imbalance they were always willing to exploit. They treated us as interlopers – and questioned our capacity to use force to stop them.

I also remember the thrill and confusion of dealing with different nations – Belgians, Danes, Egyptians, Fins, Kenyans, Dutch,  Nigerians, Norwegians, Swedes, Russians, – a mosaic knitted together in a common purpose but with differing capabilities and differing objectives. Strange ethos and ethics – some good, some not so good – was part of my education that some parts of the world were very different than where I was from.   Communicating was a constant game of charades or Pictionary dotted with a dash of pidgin English.

Sharing our garrison with a company of Russian Airborne months after the fall of the wall was bizarre. Our former enemy, the Russian Bear, shared the same barrack block, ate in the same mess, used the same fuel. This new union contradicted every instinct driven into the Canadian solder since the start of the Cold War.

And I remember, oh so vividly, the scene of Russian officers beating young Airborne soldiers to a pulp for minor transgressions. Leadership through fear was a new concept for me – but as we learned, it was  a common tactic amongst those with whom we now soldiered.

I remember applying first aid as a young Yugoslavian conscript blew his hand off playing with munitions he did not understand.  I remember his youth, and his anguish. I still feel guilty as I remember my relief that it was him, and not one of our soldiers.

But tossed in between the challenges and obstacles, I remember good things too.

I remember Vukovar Vern’s Bombed Out Basement Beer Emporium.  A bit of Canada carved out of the basement of a Yugoslavian National Army Barracks Block, a place where I suspect several interrogations that crossed the bounds of human decency took place before the United Nations showed up.  In this dark basement mess, we drowned our bad memories with unripe local beer; it was a time when alcohol on operations was an uncontrolled commodity.

VWFI remember the Vukovar Wrestling Federation, our weekly pantomime to exorcise the discomfort of being in an unhappy place.

I remember losing the innocence of my Canadian prudishness as the Fins invited me to
spend an evening in their portable sea container sauna, drinking aquavit during the Summer Solstice. Pressed sweaty thigh to sweaty thigh with completely naked Scandinavian military observers, being flogged with fresh vihta (silver birch branches) flown in from Finland was something I had never experienced before.  And if I am lucky, I will never experience again.

I remember how one calm evening, we abruptly stood-to and prepared for an attack, and how our immediate action and apprehension turned to disbelief, relief, and laughter when the abundant machine gun and automatic fire outside our camp turned out to be the local population celebrating the Yugoslavian Basketball Champions.

41 Fd Sqn SNCOS

(L-R) Sgt Mike Gariner, WO Norbert Dreaddy, me, Sgt Brock Durette, Sgt Vic Nielsen Vukovar, June 1992 (and yes Mom, I am smoking…)

But more than the good times or the hard times or the loss of a fellow Sapper, I will always remember the hatred and fear that was now Croatia and Serbia. It was not hatred of the Blue Helmets. It was the sheer evil of indiscriminate hate of wanting a person dead because of their ancestry,  their religion, their race, or their name. I will remember the livestock slaughtered for no other reason than someone thought that it belonged to “them” – those who had no reason to exist in their country. I will remember the graffiti of death squads painted onto scorched houses. I will remember some of the vacant looks that I saw on people, only disappearing when replaced by the look of fear when they saw soldiers.

And I will remember how I will always appreciate my circumstances in life; how lucky I am to live in a country where regional differences exist, but are not handled through unbridled violence or genocidal acts or war crimes.  As Canadians we are gifted with one of the best places to live and to love.  My tour twenty-five years ago reminds me of that forever.

To those that I served with, I hope you realize it has been 25 years since we served together in Yugoslavia. I hope you raise a glass to our shared experience. And  I hope you suffer no demons from the tour – some things just never go away.

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Closing Down Now. Out.

Gagetown

I am hanging up my combat boots this week. Incredible that this day has finally come, that I am no longer a “Lifer”. I will instead become a Lieutenant-Colonel (Retired)…a Retired Sapper, a former Cold Warrior, a UN veteran, an Old Soldier.

I can’t begin to explain what being a member of the Canadian Armed Forces has meant to me, what it has done for me, and how much it will still be a part of me – regardless of where I go or what I do. I do not think anyone can unlearn 33 years of habit, of conduct, of thought – neither do I think anyone needs to.

To many the military is a mystery. Even to this day, I have been unable to adequately explain to family or friends what it is I have done or what it is that I am doing. I know that I have their respect, and that in a sanitised, media-driven way they understand the risks of serving; but I know that deep down, they do not really get what it means to be a member of the Armed Forces – how your failure can affect the lives of others, how others look to you for decisions and commands that could very well lead to an unhappy ending.

1 CER  Leadership 2004They don’t really understand the hardships, the discomforts, the aches, the pains, the toil, and the exertion that is the daily bread and butter of soldiering – that we train hard to fight easy. They know that I have Army friends, but they do not understand just how much we have relied and leaned upon each other; how much we have comforted, supported, and helped each other; how we have ribbed and teased, and lovingly insulted each other – in seemingly cruel ways that would lead to lawsuits, or lost friendships or fist-fights in the outside world, but are simply our way of showing how much we mean tor each other.  Or how we love each other in ways that few professions can match – how we would do anything for each other if asked, asking no questions in return because our trust in each other is implicit and unwavering.  Or how some of my best friends in the world are the ten or so people who I met over 32 years ago, or 22 years ago, or 12 years ago…all of us driven toward a common purpose.

But they will know that even if I leave the Army, the Army will never leave me. The attention to detail, the punctuality, the decisiveness will always be there. The need to make a plan and to do a time appreciation – working backward from the appointed time to decide exactly to the minute when we must start getting ready – or must depart – to arrive 5 minutes early for a movie, or dinner, or party, will continue to exist. And so will the constant “mental war-gaming” to identify the worst-case scenarios – be it a car breakdown, an accident, someone injured or ill, or any type of chaos or confusion that needs someone to establish order; to exercise the creative thinking that is necessary to make sure that we are mentally prepared and quick to act if any of it ever comes to happen. And how we will never lose that willingness to help if help is ever needed – what my brother calls the “Joe Saver” complex. Little does he know that there are almost 100,000 Joe Savers out there wearing the Maple Leaf today, innumerable other Joes who sport the title “Retired”, and billions of Josephs, Youssefs, Iosifs, Jozefs, Yosyps, and Giuseppes etcetera, who serve or have served their respective nations and who are all standing by as well.

I leave the Army at the end of this week…to take up new challenges with new horizons. I am excited, but my departure is bitter-sweet.  Part of me does not want to leave the only home I have ever known since I was 17.  But the other part of me, the same spirit that led me to join the army, tells me that I am ready to go and that I can safely leave the business of protecting our nation and its interests to the next generation. I hope their service shapes them as positively as mine has formed me.

So, I leave fulfilled and grateful; I leave happy for the chance of a lifetime to experience more than I could ever have hoped

Combat Diver Graduation 2009

Combat Diver Graduation 2009

for if I had stayed in Toronto and not worn the uniform; for seeing people at their very best when the circumstances were at their very worst; for meeting so many fantastic role models and colleagues to show me how to be honourable and honest and forthright and trustworthy; for having seen things that make me grateful that we Canadians enjoy a fantastic quality of life, and that we are not consumed by ingrained, indiscriminate hate and hostility, like so many other places, that lead us to inflict indescribable injustices and cruelty on our neighbours; and for giving me so many opportunities to experience a joie de vivre and camaraderie and thrill that I do not think I will ever be able to find again.

In the 1980s, the adverts extolled how  “There’s No Life Like It” ; I agree, and I have never rued the day that I chose to live the Forces way (I know it is Navy, but it’s the only thing I could find on the ‘net)

I wish all of you, who continue to carry the torch, happy, fulfilling and rewarding careers. Remember that the bad times are necessary to help you appreciate the good times. Soldier well as you stand on guard for us.

Leaving Command 2009 - CFB Gagetown ALSC

Leaving Command June 2009

All stations, this is A Simple Fellow. Permission to close down. Closing down now. Out.

Later,

ASF

…The Wall Collapsed

The Wall - Then and Then

…when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city…

Joshua 6-20

I had only lived half of my life when The Berlin Wall fell. I was a young engineer troop commander, living in the Federal Republic of Germany. I was fresh off my first major NATO exercise, and massive, expansive force on force exercise in the German countryside, practicing to defend against the Russian Bear if he ever decided to forage into Blue Territory.

It was the thawing for the Cold War. And because it was in the Time before the Internet, my understanding of what was happening, and what it meant to us and me, was strangely fragmented and unnerving. I saw the images on TV, but back then in the Crazy Olden

Days (of the late 1980s) of service in Europe, English video was on a 3 day tape delay flown over from Canada, and our Nachricht

1988...the Handover just before The Wall felll

1988…the Handover just before The Wall felll

was all delivered auf Deutsch. I understood snippets, but it was a distorted picture of what was happening – volunteer DJs on our local radio station tried to tell the story, but it wasn’t the same as the calm narratives of Knowlton Nash – or his young new successor, Peter Mansbridge.

It was quite the time to be in Germany; many before us had fought the Cold War, but if the news was right, it was actually our cohort that had won it! Not log after the throngs on partyers on the The Wall dissipated nursing their hangovers and pre-Unification angsts, the dominoes fell in short order relatively quickly – it was weird witnessing the Evil Empire collapse like a kid’s sandcastle at high tide. And through it all, while we still kept a wary eye on the Hammer and Sickle, there was slight swagger in our step – but we knew deep down in our hearts  that more than Berlin and Germany was changing. The World was changing.

Rust only to mark the lost power of the Hammer and Sickle

Rust only,  marking the lost power of the Hammer and Sickle

It was not long after that November 10th, that I made my first and only trip to Berlin. It was not a pretty city, industrial and business-like and boxy. While West Berlin was clean, and efficient, and colourful, our brief foray into East Berlin was surreal. It was as if we had become colour blind crossing the scarred landscape of no-man’s land; the landscape became monochromatic …

Easy to drive, easy to maintain, easy to junk! The Shabby Trabby!

Easy to drive, easy to maintain, easy to junk! The Shabby Trabby!

buildings grey and dull and unkempt. People seemed hesitant and cold, distrusting and apprehensive – unless they saw Deutschemarks or US dollars. Landmarks were odd and filled with unease – the Reichstag, the Stasi HQ, It looked like the land that time had forgot – as if the damage of the Second World War has been patched with spackle as opposed to erased and rebuilt. There was an air of despair as I looked at weeded asphalt and broken down Trabants…it hardly seemed that the German experiment of communism had been fruitful. And after a short visit to the East, we crossed back into relative familiarity through the magnificent but forlorn and shabby Brandenburg Gate to the West, where like all tourist we passed away time hearing the bartender’s stories quaffing beer at the ubiquitous Irish Bar…Murphy’s or Finnegan’s or something like that.  Because, as you all know, nothing says Berlin, or Amsterdam, or Bangkok, or Buenos Aires, like a Guinness with a shamrock in the foam.

It is funny how life changed after that. A mere three years later, in my first blue beret experience, we shared a camp with Russian Airborne soldiers. Yes they were tough, but other than the fact that they had 55,000 tanks, 24,000 infantry fighting vehicles and over 33,000 artillery pieces, we had them right where we wanted them! That tour in Croatia and Serbia was bizarrely dreamlike… we were sharing the same space, eating in the same mess and executing the same mission with soldiers who for over 45 years were the enemy, who had different ethos and procedures, and expectations. But we did play ball hockey better than them – the 1992 Canada v Russia Summit was epic!

Wall FallThe Wall is gone, save for little asbestos riddled chunks that live in people’s memory boxes, or on bookshelves or in several monolithic sections found in the same cities that house all those Irish Pubs; iconic, yet strangely misplaced and somehow trivialised – a footnote, a bauble; some huckster’s way to shill history for a few sheckles. And gone, save in some history textbook, library reference section, underappreciated fiction, or in the folklore of those of us who are growing older and older are historic places like Check Point Charlie, the open and dogmatic struggle between Democracy and Soviet Communism – our way of life versus their way of life – of Ludlum’s original Jason Bourne and Tinkers and Tailors, of a recognisable predictable. Unfortunately, with the fall of the wall also goes the significance of the courage, resourcefulness and desperation of over 136 Germans who died trying to cross no man’s land.

 

196304-jbo-05

And filling the vacuum in the Bear’s place? The snake, the unpredictable, the non-comprehensible and unknown unknowns. Gone now is the other half of the bipolar relationship – the one that kept our enemies in check because they were his friends. And it all started with a wall…a wall that fell a quarter century ago – when I was 24. I remember that.

The 11th hour of 11 November

And still the dark stain spreads between
His shoulder blades.
A mute reminder of the poppy fields and graves.
And when the fight was over
We spent what they had made.
But in the bottom of our hearts
We felt the final cut.

                                                                      –  Pink Floyd, The Final Cut

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month 1918.  Armistice of The Great War, the War to end all Wars.

And now, a moment of eternal remembrance. A moment to reflect, to mourn, to honour, to celebrate those who have paid the ultimate price in the service of their Country.

Remembrance Day does not glorify war.

It does not glorify death.

It does not discriminate against race, colour, creed, sex, nationality or age – just as Death does not.

And just as Death does not rest,  neither can we.

We must take the time, even if all you can spare is one short moment once a year,  to remember those who were willing to step into harm’s way – choosing to fulfill their duty by honouring the oaths they swore to their Sovereigns and Nations and fellow citizens. Whether they perished in the corner of some foreign land, or peacefully in their beds many decades after defending our way of life, they merit our reflection.

No one is pro-war, not even the soldiers.

Remembrance Day is not about War. It is about those who served – people who lived, who laughed, who loved. Remember them for who they were and honour them for the courage, duty, loyalty and integrity they showed.

Take a moment on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Given what they have done, it is the least we can do.

We will remember them…

ASF

25 Years doesn’t change a thing – Truth, Duty, Valour

In 1983, I set foot onto Canadian Forces’ Base Chilliwack, British Columbia and started an experience that still continues to this day.  At that time, I was a young dewy-faced, neophyte –

ASF circa 1983

and because I knew no one, I was alone. But, as it happens, so was everyone else.  And in our shared solitudes, we all tried very hard to ignore the shouting, the stress, and the discomfort, as we challenged every ounce of our beings to understand our new culture – in a new place,  far away from our homes.

We were 18.

And in that brief 6 weeks, in which we learned to wear the uniform, to march, to live in the field, to run long distances, to navigate and to lead small teams, we all made a few friends. But these friends were at a different level than  “friends” that share a few common interests, or say hello when they see each other in the street; nope, these were new friend that I would learn, and need, to depend on implicitly.  These were people I would trust with my life.

And for the next four years, we shared everything. Good times, bad times…happy moments and tears.  We took on challenges as a team, and we endured – not

The Collwood Eight

always victorious, but always together. We consoled each other, we encouraged each other; at times we scolded each other and offered life advice – offered from the vantage point of worldly young twenty-somethings.We played sports together, we studied together, we ate together, we watched TV together…and given the horrible state of the military buildings, we shared an intimacy that broke any barriers of self-modesty, as we showered and did our ablutions together in old World War II infrastructure.

RMC v Westpoint 1986

We shared clothes and smokes and beers and money. We were each other’s wing-men – taking on names like Carl Gustav and Tommy Gunn to advance the cause. And on occasion, we stopped fights and sweet talked bouncers or Kingston’s Finest for each other – the Cadets from the Institute.

We jumped into the cauldron with each other – not war – but preparation for it.  We were young, and we were Soldiers (and Sailors and Aircrew).  We were invincible, healthy and ready to take on whatever anyone threw at us.

We forged friendships that will last a life time. And in that bittersweet moment when we walked through the College Arch – no longer students, but full-fledged

The Troll, Spenny, Spud, ASF, Mitch, Miff. Grad 87

leaders – we spread to the four corners of the globe, executing our duties. And over time, we matured. We honed our crafts; we fell in love; we married; we had children, and we grew wiser. And as the hour-glass of our lives slowly filled, as happens to all close groups, we  drifted – imperceptibly – apart. But this separation was only physical.

Some of us left the military. And using the same self-discipline, courage and adventurous spirit that brought us together in 1983,  these brave ones struck out into fields unexplored, creating new paths and achieving new success.  And their success has validated us, and all we did when we were younger.

And some of us stayed in uniform – taking on growing leadership challenges to achieve success for Canada and her citizens.  And, again, our success has validated us all.

But no matter where we are, or what we are doing, every five years, most of us return to the Mothership. Like pigeons to the roost, or bees to the hive, we return to be with our Buds.  And be it five years, 10, 15…or as just last weekend, 25 years since Graduation…it was just like we were back in our youth.  The stories, the lingo, the memories are just as good today as they were then.  And though we may be older or rounder, perchance greyer or balder, the friendships have not yellowed or frayed.   In fact, the comfort, the ease, and the love are just as strong today as they were 25 years ago.  Time has not changed a thing.  It is uncanny. And I see nothing but the same for many years to come as I watch our Elders celebrate their 40th, 50th, and in some cases 60th reunions together.

I know it is crazy, but being with my Buds makes me younger. It takes me back to the time when The Clash was new, when a new Ford Mustang cost $10,000, when shoulder pads were hip. Back to a time when I had my whole life, and the whole world ahead of me.  And when I am in their company, I still feel capable of wonderful things – like taking on our newest generation in rugby, or water polo – or partying like its 1999 (or earlier). It is rejuvenating, like drinking from a fountain of youth.

And as my wife commented after my 25th reunion weekend: I am so lucky to have friends who are timeless; to have friends with whom I have gone through “the shit”- friends whom without, I wouldn’t have made it through.

It is something to cherish.

And when we meet again – tomorrow, or next week, next year, or in five years – it will be like time stood still.  I will still love them just as much. Amongst all the people I know – probably thousands – there is no tighter circle than ours.   And while I do miss them when we are apart, I know that neither time nor distance does anything to diminish our bonds and our trust. I know that tomorrow, like today and yesterday, they have my back. And they know that I have theirs.

So until we meet again, stay well class of ’87.  See you at our 30th.

TDV

(PS. Miff – you rock. Figuratively and literally.)

Later,

ASF

The Canadian Army Run – way more than just a run….

This past weekend I participated in the Canadian Army Run.  Now, way back in February when I signed up for the run, I was full of good intentions to train hard and hopefully come close to meeting my personal best.  At least that it what I thought 7 months ago…that I could match a time that was achieved when I was eight years younger, 20lbs lighter and whole lot less arthritic.  (Roll eyes now…)

I started training and for three months I was doing really well. Speed work, hill work, endurance runs… I did everything that John Stanton recommended and I was feeling powerful.

But then life got in the way.

First the debilitating pinched nerve – the one I blogged about in May – then a house hunting trip from UK to Canada, and then a full-fledged move which included 30+ days in a hotel.  The latter was the killer: restaurants and beer and fried eggs and the occasional work out.  Any half-marathon discipline was wiped out by waves of stress-related hedonism! Time ticked away and I consoled myself that I had two months, then a month, then three weeks…blah blah blah.

And as 23 September loomed closer, the sinking feeling of “Man…this is gonna hurt. Hurt real bad!” started growing momentum. And while I wore the badge of “I am running the 21.3km Army Run”, I was a bit worried that I was going to embarrass myself and not finish. Instead of eagerness and impatience, there was a bit of unease and anxiety. And occasionally, I would think that the easy thing to do was to forgo the whole experience and take a “pass”. Everybody would understand that I was “not ready”.

But I couldn’t.  And with the exact same logic, neither could my wife. We said we would, so we had to.

So Sue and I sucked it up and headed off to Ottawa to do our bit.  To finish what we set out to do and to complete our respective 5k and 21k.

And during, and after, our respective runs, we both wondered what the heck we were worried about.  For among the 17,000 runners in both events, there was no thought of failure, no thoughts of poor performances, no winners and no losers.  It was a celebration: a celebration of an institution and its values.  Of taking on a challenge and sharing in everyone’s victory. Of cheering on everyone and applauding their commitment – whether they were Olympic calibre athletes or novices who wanted to show their support by taking on a huge challenge.

And mostly, it was humbling.  It was humbling to watch the disabled and the injured soldiers and fellow citizens take on the same challenge as us.  And honestly, nobody cared how fast they were. It was simply sobering to watch a triple amputee, injured in an IED attack, walking on two prosthetic legs holding a cane in his good hand. I can only describe it as awe-inspiring. It talks to the human condition – the drive and spirit that make us do things that we thought we could never do.  It put all of our challenges and worries into perspective.

And alongside this multitude of marvellous, amazing individuals, ordinary Canadians of all

His Excllency the Governor General particpates in the Canadian Army Run 5k

shapes and sizes, colours and creeds, ran, or jogged, or walked, defeating their own internal demons to make it across the finish line. And while their challenges may not have been as mountainous as the disabled and hurt, their victories are no less significant.

And after it all, the array of emotions that faces displayed were incredible.  Happiness, relief, tears, incredulity…the full gamut.  And why not?  It was a wonderful day full of personal bests and personal victories – of completing what you may not have thought was possible. And as I look at the pictures friends have posted, and the comments that they and all the people who care for them have made, I know that everyone feels the same.  It was so worth it!

And I feel a wisp of shame that I thought about avoiding it because I was not “ready”.  Because if I had not done it, I would not have been rejuvenated by the remarkable role models and spectrum of positive emotions throughout the course, and the valuable lessons it taught me.

No one cared if I ran slowly. No one mocked me for my slower finishing time. It was simply a celebration of what I, and We, achieved.  How we achieved the “objective”.  That we were a team focused on the same goal.  And that, in a nutshell, is how I would describe the Army and the Canadian Forces. How perfect is that?

So, if you have not attempted the Army run – 5k or 21k – join the thousands that have done it and will return for another year. It is a reawakening and a nice demonstration of what is right about sport and personal endeavour. Despite your fears and worries, you can do it just like others did.

See you on the course next year!

Go Army!

Later,

ASF