Postby Oscar » Wed Oct 05, 2016 8:11 pm

From: John Fefchak
Sent: Wednesday, October 5, 2016 4:52 PM

Dear Editor:

Too Young to Remember.

For the most part, our government representatives of to-day are from the generations of the late 1960's,the 70's and later. They have no personal recollection of the wars as those generations of the 1940's and 50's. They probably will read and be appropriately briefed, when needed, but war to them, and deterrence to war is something that happened in another lifetime; a long Time ago.

As a veteran of the Cold War period myself, I did enjoy reading the letter by Col. G. Brennand and as he so graciously shared some of the symptoms of government and bureaucracy of to-day when it comes to providing the replacement needs for Canada's Airforce (re: Our political leaders - Tory and Liberal - are the joke of this ongoing comedy of errors -I agree. Virden Empire Advance, 30 Sep.) ALSO [ ... jets-saga/ ]

With that in mind, I would appreciate the opportunity to share with your readers, a tribute about some of the forgotten Cold War activity and the Veterans who were involved.

- - -

Canada's Forgotten Cold War Veterans.

A 2015 presentation by Paul Manson, retired General and former Chief of Defence Staff during the final years of the Cold War.

"Stunningly absent from many accounts is even the slightest mention of what was by far Canada's most important military activity since 1945: Our contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) in the Cold War, from 1950 to 1990. It was a massive commitment. Several hundred thousand Canadian military members served in the vital cause of deterring Soviet aggression, thereby joining Canada's allies in preventing the outbreak of a third world war and the nuclear holocaust that would have ensued.

And our Canadian soldiers, sailors and air officers were good. At one point, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, an American, told me, "You Canadians set the standard in NATO." We were well trained, well equipped and superbly motivated. In spite of unique organizational challenges, we earned great respect from our allies. Our small but powerful mechanized brigade in West Germany was an elite force, given the toughest assignments. Our air force, both in NORAD and in Europe, won numerous competitions, especially with the Canadian-built and powered F-86 Sabre, considered the world's best fighter in the 1950s. At sea, our navy showed that it was a quality force. On several occasions, a Canadian was chosen to command NATO's Standing Naval
Force Atlantic.

Canada and Canadians paid a heavy price for all this. To put it concisely, our Cold War operations resulted in more fatalities due to military service than in the Korean War, the Balkan conflicts, the Gulf Wars, Afghanistan and peacekeeping - combined. For aircrew deaths alone, the number was 926.

Why has this been forgotten, to the extent that Cold War veterans apparently don't seem to deserve even a passing mention these days?

Some possible reasons come to mind. Much of this happened a relatively long time ago, much of it far from home - in the north, at sea, in Europe. And news media coverage was much less intensive in the days before real-time TV reporting and embedded journalists. For example, whenever a Canadian airman was killed in Europe (as more than 100 were), he was invariably buried in a
small military cemetery in Choloy-Ménillot, France; no ramp ceremony, no funerary procession along the Highway of Heroes, no headlines.

Then there is the mythology that has arisen to the effect that peacekeeping has been the principal occupation of Canada's military since the Second World War. Our Blue Beret peacekeepers did wonderful work back when there were real opportunities for keeping conflicting armies apart, but the reason they were so effective is that they had the skills and credibility that come
from having been trained for modern heavy warfare.

Another explanation for the public silence regarding Canada's NATO and NORAD veterans is that there has emerged a troubling tendency on the part of some in this country to look upon those who did not fight in a shooting war as second-class veterans.

My entire career was encompassed by the Cold War years, including 10 years with my family in France and Germany. The Cold War, however, was not a shooting war. I have told Canadians on many occasions that my greatest pride in having served is that, from the end of the Korean War until I retired 37 years later, not a single shot was fired in combat by the Canadian military.
Our job was deterrence, and deterrence worked. We trained for war so that we wouldn't have to fight a war.

It's a shame that the story has been largely forgotten. On this Remembrance Day, my earnest hope is that Canadians, when they pause to commemorate the many sacrifices that our veterans have made through the years, will give a moment to those whose service as Cold War Warriors, although unheralded, really made a difference".

Lest we forget.

- - -

Submitted by John Fefchak (CWO. retired), Virden, MB, who served 31 of those 40 years in the RCAF and Canadian Armed Forces.

5 October, 2016
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