Paul Paone was bummed.
The 19-year-old military reservist from Victoria had wished to hop a aircraft for Beirut and its wondrous Equipment Kat Membership, however couldn’t get depart.
So, right here he was, caught on the Ismailia air base in Egypt, serving to load a handful of his fellow Canadian troopers onto the Buffalo plane certain for Lebanon and Damascus, Syria. It was a daily provide run for Canadian peacekeepers within the Golan Heights. When it climbed into the sunshine that morning, Paone couldn’t assist feeling a twinge of envy.
That emotion modified later that day when the information broke: Syrian missiles had blown the unarmed Canadian transport aircraft out of the sky. All 9 on board have been useless. It was Aug. 9, 1974, and Canada’s navy had simply suffered its worst peacetime loss in historical past.
Monday is Nationwide Peacekeepers Day. The date was chosen due to these deaths in Syria. On Vancouver Island, the event will probably be marked with 7 p.m. companies on the Chemainus and Esquimalt cenotaphs.
The event isn’t simply in reminiscence of the 9 who died within the Buffalo, in fact. It acknowledges greater than 125,000 Canadians who’ve served in dozens of United Nations missions since 1948, from Cyprus to Croatia to Rwanda to Haiti.
The time period peacekeeping conjures up a picture of Lester Pearson and blue helmets and the Canadian good man bringing stability to the world. The fact could be extra brutal: 130 Canadians have died on these missions. The Canadian Struggle Museum web site factors out that in Rwanda and the previous Yugoslavia within the Nineties, “service members have been confronted with no peace to maintain and bore witness to atrocity and suicide.”
It’s that Center East mission in 1974 that Paone remembers, although. He was only a 12 months faraway from Saanich’s Mount View Excessive Faculty, away from dwelling in what was meant to be a cool short-term job abroad. Individuals weren’t presupposed to die, actually not folks he knew.
It messed with Paone’s head. He went to the padre however the padre was busy coping with the households of those that had died.
After that, Paone was shifted to the Golan Heights, the place he quickly discovered himself driving one in all a dozen vehicles despatched into Syria to get better the wreckage of the Buffalo.
“I can see it in my thoughts proper now,” he mentioned. “It was in items. I imply, it was blown to smithereens.” He was so naïve that he didn’t acknowledge the brown substance that the bottom wasps have been going nuts over because it soaked into the soil.
After the Arab-Israeli Struggle of 1973, peace was fragile. Had the Syrians mistaken the lumbering Buffalo for an Israeli warplane? Or was the assault deliberate, politically motivated? Investigators might by no means say for certain.
Paone went on to an extended profession within the navy. He was a 59-year-old lieutenant-colonel when the Maple Leaf flag was lowered in Kabul for the final time in March 2014, ending Canada’s 12-year mission in Afghanistan. That lack of the Buffalo at all times caught with him, although. At a Christmas social gathering in 1982, a girl approached him: “You have been the final one to see my husband alive.” The person had been the aircraft’s loadmaster.
Paone wasn’t the one Victorian at Ismailia when the aircraft was shot down.
The truth is, the primary particular person on the base to listen to of the tragedy was Chris Preston, then a naval reservist two months right into a six-month deployment to the Center East. He was on obligation within the message centre when an Austrian officer known as from UN headquarters to say the Buffalo had been shot down.
The information knocked Preston again. He was 20 years previous. It was his first time overseas.
“Impulsively what had began off as an fascinating alternative to see the world and do one thing to assist, obtained severe,” he mentioned.
Paone echoes that. “We have been simply a few children on an journey, and obtained a dose of actuality, actually fast.”
It nonetheless bothers each males that Syria by no means defined what occurred. How did a clearly marked UN plane with clearance to comply with an authorized flight path find yourself focused by three surface-to-air missiles?
“It doesn’t add up,” Preston mentioned this week from the Ashton Armoury Museum on Vanalman, the place he was making ready classic automobiles for Monday’s Nationwide Peacekeepers Day.
There’ll be a parade down Esquimalt Street previous to the 7 p.m. ceremony on the cenotaph in Memorial Park. Navy plane will fly overhead.
– – –
Touch upon this text by sending a letter to the editor: email@example.com
© Copyright Instances Colonist