Husband and wife veterans share their military stories
Lynne Gallant knew tensions were high in Cyprus when she was deployed there in 1987.
“It was worse before I got there, when it was really terrifying and there was constant fighting. The Turks were on one side, the Greeks were on the other and the buffer zone was in the middle.”
But, during her time there she never expected to be eyeing the barrel of a gun with her husband, Ron, in the backseat.
“Lynne was there as an UN officer. I was there as her guest,” explained Ron
“I was over visiting her for two weeks. There was also a military police officer named Frank with us.
“At one point we’re stopped and Frank is explaining that Lynne, who was sitting in the front seat, is an officer and that I’m the guest, but the Turks wouldn’t believe it.”
The problem was, Lynne was a woman.
“To give you context, in some areas like this there is a pecking order in how people walked: women first, then livestock and then men. Because women were the most expendable,” said Lynne.
She added, “When you’re a woman and you’re walking around, the Turks would rather shoot you than look at you.”
At the time, Lynne was one of 10 Canadian women stationed in Cyprus.
“We’re sitting in the car and Frank goes, ‘Hold on guys, we need to get out of here, now,’” Ron said.
“Thank God they never fired their guns,” Lynne added.
But even with memories like that, the pair doesn’t regret enlisting in the Canadian military.
Ron enlisted in 1975 when he and his friend went down to the recruitment office in Charlottetown.
“I was 17 at the time so I had to get my mother to sign the form for me. She didn’t want to, but I kept telling her, ‘don’t worry they’ll never call me’. Two months later I was off to Cornwallis,” he said.
Lynne decided to join the military as a way to see the world.
“I had been working since I was 14, and I didn’t want to go to post secondary so I thought, why not join the military. I signed up five weeks after high school.”
Basic training was traumatizing, said the Victoria, B.C., native.
“It was 11 weeks of intensity. If I had to go back a year later, I would have been able to do it standing on my head,” she added with a chuckle.
Eventually the pair would meet in the middle at CFB Shilo in Manitoba.
“We started dating in 1979 and then got married in 1980, but we made sure we were compatible before things got serious,” said Lynne.
Lynne worked as an administrative clerk while Ron worked as a physical education and recreation instructor.
“Back then, all he wanted to
be was a jock,” Lynne said with a laugh.
Ron added, “For 20 year I was one of those guys who yelled at you. My job was to get people fit and ready for service.”
Ron’s position took him on a six-month deployment to Nunavut.
“It was as close to the North Pole as you could get. It was very cold, we had 24 hours of sunlight every day, and in bad storms we’d have to hold onto ropes to walk between buildings.”
In 1996, Lynne left the army, although she had committed to being a “lifer”.
“I was a career soldier. I was going to do my 35, there was no question. But things got complicated while trying to raise two kids. I decided to get out and Ron would stay in.”
In 1997, the army eliminated Ron’s position, employing civilians rather than military personnel, leading Ron to leave the military as well.
“So we moved to Brandon, Man. And reinvented ourselves,” said Lynne.
“I went to school and became a carpenter/woodworker and opened up a shop and Ron worked wherever he could.”
In 2003, the pair moved to Summerside with their two children.
“This home, that we live in now is my 24th house. This is the longest we’ve stayed in one place.”
Since coming to the Island, Ron and Lynne have been involved with the RCAFA 200 Summerside Wing, filling positions on their executive board for about six years. Recently Ron finished his time as president of the Wing.
“I wouldn’t change anything Warrant Officer, Lynne Gallant, and Sgt. Ron Gallant, on the evening of Lynne’s investiture into the Order of Military Merit in the rank of Member, in November 1994.
we’ve done,” he said.
Lynne added, “Let’s put it this way, we have a lot of physical ailments, but we’re very fortunate and thankful we don’t have any mental or psychological wounds.”
That hasn’t meant it’s been easy.
“We’ve known or at least known of a few soldiers who have
been in Afghanistan,” said Lynne.
Ron added, “Two soldiers that I trained as cadets were killed over there. It’s a tough thing.”
Lynne continued, “We’ve met a lot of people, seen a lot of things and the relationships you build are life-long.”
Ron and Lynne Gallant in the Summerside home.