United front

Husband and wife veter­ans share their mil­i­tary sto­ries

The Queens County Advance - - ATLANTIC CANADA REMEMBERS - BY MIL­LI­CENT MCKAY JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER mil­li­cent.mckay@jour­nal­pi­oneer.com

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.”

MIL­LI­CENT MCKAY/JOUR­NAL PI­O­NEER

Ron and Lynne Gal­lant in the Summerside home.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

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