William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD
ACHES AND MOANS AND BROKEN BONES
I was a young AIRBORNE soldier and jumping out of big planes
And now I’m getting older I can feel those ancient aches and pains
Gordie Gedge was once the AIRBORNE CO is the Cdn AB 1 FSSU
Hey, his landing from the ladder – it too could have happened to you
Carrying a box of Izzy African Comfort Dolls at the rear of our Canada Post
Stepping in a pot hole I did the ostrich, smashing wrist and elbow the most
Gordie missed the joy of the AIRBORNE reunion with the old guy AB Svc Coy
And I really feel bad and a wee bit sad because his pictures we always enjoy!
So thank you BJ for your report of the day
I enjoyed the scarlet dark red booted story
The jump pay $30.00 and so were the boots
But we were all young and did not give 2 hoots!
©Copyright June 22, 2008 by William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD
From: Barry Phillip
Sent: Sunday, June 22, 2008 7:58 PM
To: Members DZ VI
Subject: The Edmonton Reunion
Good Evening All,
A first report back from Edmonton, compliments of Gord Gedge… who couldn’t even attend!! Gord executed a very poor plf from a ladder last month and managed to injure his left little pinkie finger – sufficiently that he was rendered unsuitable for travel to any Airborne reunion…
Any more reports/photographs out there? C’mon!! Share!! Not all of us are rich enough to afford reunions in far off distant corners of the country…
PARATROOPERS SALUTE 40 YEARS OF CANADIAN AIRBORNE
About 500 gather at Edmonton’s Aviation Heritage Museum
Don Mackenzie shows off the jump boots he bought in 1967 at the 40th anniversary reunion of the Canadian Airborne Regiment held at the Alberta Aviation Museum Friday. Larry Wong: The JournalEDMONTON – In a hangar at Edmonton’s Aviation Heritage Museum, the first of 500 men began to gather Friday morning, stepping over the threshold into a world they first entered decades ago.
For Don Mackenzie, the world represented inside this cavernous structure, with its displays of military banners and billowing parachutes, is as comfortable as the oxblood jump boots he wears on his feet.
The boots were purchased for $30 in 1967 – then a month’s worth of Mackenzie’s military pay – the year before the Canadian Airborne Regiment was formed here in Edmonton.
The regiment’s 40th anniversary brought Mackenzie here this weekend from his home in Prince George, B.C.
Ask him why he travelled so far and he seems almost startled by the question, then ineffably sad.
“Because,” he says, nodding at the mostly grey-haired men who mill around him, “we’re old, and in 10 years most of us will be dead, that’s why.”
At 59, Mackenzie may not seem that old to some but, he says, “When you’ve been a paratrooper for 25 years of your life, every bone in your body hurts.”
The Canadian Airborne Regiment was deployed twice at home during the 1970s: in response to the October Crisis in Quebec in 1970, then in 1976 to provide counter-terrorist support at the Montreal Olympics.
Its first overseas tour was to Cyprus in 1974, then to the Western Sahara in 1991 and to Somalia in 1992. It was there that many of the regiment’s positive accomplishments were overshadowed by the torture and murder of a Somali teenager in what become known as the Somali Affair.
The unit was disbanded in 1995.
For Mackenzie, the time he spent in the regiment was hands-down the best of his life, spent with some of the best men he has known.
“Some of the guys I don’t like,” he said. “Heck, some of them I can’t stand.
“But I still love ‘em, and they’re still my brothers. I would die for them,” he said, then shakes his head and shrugs.
“It’s hard to explain.”
Or sometimes understand, said Brian Vernon.
“There’s all kinds of jargon and language specific to a particular unit,” said Vernon, a retired general, “so conversations are punctuated with abbreviations and acronyms.”
With military people, Vernon said, everything is based on trust and the bond between soldiers.
“You have to rely on the man on your left, the man on your right, the person behind you. You also have to rely on leadership; that they’re not going to needlessly put you in harm’s way.”
As it happens, Mackenzie served under Vernon many years ago.
When the two met up Friday, there were smiles and handshakes, and a “sir” or two uttered during a subsequent conversation.
“Old habits die hard,” said Mackenzie afterwards, laughing.
“To me, he’ll always be my commanding officer.”