Richard wayne Golden and his sgt. Charles Golden Ri­fle Team

The Standard (Elliot Lake) - - COMMUNITY - By PA­TRI­CIA DRO­HAN For The Stan­dard

Five years ago, Richard Wayne Golden of Massey wanted to hon­our his grea­tun­cle Charles Golden, with a mil­i­tary fu­neral. His great-un­cle, a Cana­dian, had been part of the first Amer­i­can mil­i­tary unit to be shipped over to Europe dur­ing the First World War. Sergeant Charles Golden was wounded, but re­turned af­ter the war, never fully re­cov­er­ing from his wounds and dy­ing in 1959.

Golden had tried to lo­cate a ri­fle team who would do the cus­tom­ary 21-ri­fle sa­lute for a mil­i­tary fu­neral, but there were no teams avail­able.

“With sev­eral vet­er­ans and Le­gion mem­bers, we con­ducted the mil­i­tary ser­vice for my grea­tun­cle, our­selves, but with­out the 21-ri­fle sa­lute,” said Golden.

Al­most five years ago, Golden de­cided that he would try and form a ri­fle team, so that vet­er­ans who had served their coun­try could re­ceive the high­est mil­i­tary hon­our af­ter they died.

“If it had not been for Roy Ea­ton’s en­cour­age­ment, the Sgt. Charles Golden Vet­er­ans Ri­fle team would not ex­ist,” said Golden.

Ea­ton is a past pres­i­dent and cur­rent Le­gion mem­ber of Branch 177 in Lit­tle Cur­rent.

On Satur­day, Nov. 3, Golden and his ri­fle team, made up of all vet­er­ans, were in Blind River, hon­our­ing a Sec­ond World War vet­eran who died on Oct. 19, 2018 at the age of 101. Able Sea­man Fer­nand Ed­ward Gau­thier served his coun­try in the Royal Cana­dian Navy dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. Gau­thier was born on Aug. 11, 1917. He en­listed into the navy when he was in his early 20s. His medals in­clude: the At­lantic Star with Mur­mansk Bar, the Mediter­ranean Star with Bar, the Ital­ian Star, Vol­un­teer’s medal, as well as the WW II Vic­tory medal.

Don­ald Pa­trie, (Massey), Ger­rard Mar­ion (Thes­sa­lon), Den­nis Golden (Mckerrow), Kim Mc­far­ling (Blind River), Francine Gra­z­ley and David Gra­z­ley (Thes­sa­lon) made up the hon­orary ri­fle team with Wayne Golden lead­ing and bu­gler.

The Sgt. Charles Golden Ri­fle Team is an all-vol­un­teer group of vet­er­ans un­der the lead­er­ship of Golden and all their ex­penses are out-of-pocket. Golden says that his ri­fle team has helped his se­vere post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der that he has per­son­ally bat­tled for decades.

Wayne Golden was born on Jan. 1, 1941 in Sud­bury. When he was just five years old, his fam­ily moved to Es­panola. His fa­ther be­gan work at the mill in town, and Golden at­tended school in Es­panola.

In 1958, Golden de­cided to join the Royal Cana­dian Navy and see the world. While serv­ing in the RCN, he was sta­tioned in Ot­tawa, Nova Sco­tia and the North West Ter­ri­to­ries, and in 1962 he got out of the navy and went to work at In­ter­na­tional Nickel Com­pany in Sud­bury.

Golden still had the rest­less feel­ing to travel the world, and in 1967 he quit his job at INCO and went to Bri­tish Columbia. From there, he crossed the bor­der into Port­land, Ore­gon and tried to join the U.S. Army. He told them he wanted to go to Viet­nam to help fight the North Viet­namese.

“If you were a Cana­dian, the U.S. draft board asked you to go back to Canada to get a Visa,” said Golden.

When he tried to join at Draft Board #5, he found out that they had quo­tas, and he was one year too old to join the army and fight in Viet­nam. So, he went back and lied and said that he was born in 1942, and they let him in the army at age 26.

Be­cause he had prior ser­vice in the navy, Golden and a few other ‘older’ ser­vice­men, were placed in charge of hun­dreds of young men on a bus car­a­van to Fort Lewis in Wash­ing­ton State. At the re­cep­tion cen­tre Golden said there were about a thou­sand buses bring­ing new soldiers to the fort.

From there Golden, a pla­toon guide, spent eight weeks in ba­sic train­ing and from there they were sent to Fort Huachuca in Ari­zona for eight more weeks of ad­vanced train­ing. Then on to Fort Mead in Mary­land, and then flown to Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia to board the USNS Gen­eral Weigel. It took 21 days to get to Viet­nam, ar­riv­ing Oct. 21, 1967.

As Golden ex­plained, there was al­ways con­flict, wher­ever they were in Viet­nam. He was trans­ferred to the Big Red 1 In­fantry Unit, 1st Bat­tal­ion 16th In­fantry Rangers. By Jan­uary of 1968 the Tet Of­fen­sive, a mas­sive North Viet­namese and Viet Cong shock at­tack on hun­dreds of South Viet­nam cities and towns be­gan on Jan. 30. U.S. and South Viet­namese mil­i­taries sus­tained heavy losses, be­fore fi­nally re­pelling the as­sault.

Golden fin­ished his first year in Viet­nam and ex­tended his tour for an­other year. He was trans­ferred from the Iron Tri­an­gle, an area of rub­ber plan­ta­tions be­tween Saigon and Cam­bo­dia to the Mei Kong Delta area, which is all swamp. At this point, Golden had three weeks left in his tour. In Jan­uary of 1969 he was flown to Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia and dis­charged on Jan. 9, 1969.

Golden came back to Canada and took a job as a cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer at the Bur­wash In­dus­trial Farm (jail). He worked there un­til June of 1971, but was suf­fer­ing from panic at­tacks, de­pres­sion, and an­gry out­bursts. He thought go­ing back into the ser­vice would help, so he trav­elled to Toledo, Ohio, reen­listed in June of 1971 and told them he wanted to go back to fight in Viet­nam. In­stead, the U.S. army sent him to Ger­many. He took his dis­charge from the army in 1974.

“I’m not a peace time sol­dier,” said Golden.

He came back to Es­panola, and the PTSD symp­toms were even worse.

“You’re never the same again.”

He went from job to job. Golden says he was never phys­i­cally-abu­sive, but he was ver­bally vi­o­lent and his fam­ily mem­bers suf­fered. The panic at­tacks got worse while he was in Ger­many and con­tin­ued through­out the 1970s.

“You think the world is com­ing to an end, you’re cry­ing and think­ing of sui­cide to end it,” he re­mem­bers.

By 1980, Golden was work­ing in Sault Ste. Marie and started go­ing to ser­vice clubs. He knew it might help if he could be with other vets. He got into the Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Ea­gles in Sault Ste. Marie and be­gan or­ga­niz­ing new clubs in and around On­tario. For the first time in his life, he dis­cov­ered that he had good or­ga­ni­za­tional skills and he could put them to good use.

For about 20 years, Golden moved from place to place, set­ting up FOE clubs and work­ing as a chef to sup­port him­self. When he would have a “burnout” he’d come back home to the North Shore.

It wasn’t un­til 2009, when he started get­ting coun­selling in Sault Ste. Marie, Michi­gan through the VA Clinic, that he dis­cov­ered not only did he have PTSD, but heart dis­ease from the her­bi­cides used in the jun­gles of Viet­nam, as well as other lin­ger­ing ail­ments. Golden says the VA coun­selling has helped him tremen­dously with his PTSD.

He is ded­i­cated to keep­ing his Sgt. Charles Golden Vet­eran Ri­fle team go­ing, and, is con­tin­u­ally look­ing for new mem­bers for the team.

“We are the only civil­ian team of this type in Canada.”

On Satur­day, Nov. 10, the ri­fle team will be do­ing a shoot at the Es­panola ceme­tery for three Sec­ond World War vet­er­ans; Clare Pat­ter­son, Homer Ger­vais and Gilbert Charette. Golden will be there proudly lead­ing his team.

PHOTO sup­plied

Richard Wayne Golden, vet­eran of the Royal Cana­dian Navy, and the U.S. Army, where he fought in Viet­nam, or­ga­nized an hon­orary ri­fle team al­most five years ago. The team has con­ducted many mil­i­tary 21-ri­fle shoots at cer­e­monies across the North Shore and on Man­i­toulin Is­land for de­ceased mil­i­tary and po­lice mem­bers.

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