In Me­mo­riam - for­ever

Seaway News - - NEWS -

Every Remembrance Day re­minds me that I’ve been lucky. My fa­ther worked in an es­sen­tial war in­dus­try, so he was spared the hor­rors of the war front. Un­like my wife who lived in war-torn Eng­land, my early child­hood years were in Canada.

For a brief time dur­ing the mid 1960s, I was work­ing in Cal­i­for­nia un­til a teach­ing con­tract obliged me to re­turn to Canada. There I re­ceived a let­ter from Un­cle Sam that was for­warded to me. He was invit­ing me to join the many Amer­i­can men who were be­ing trained for pos­si­ble ser­vice in Indo China. Since I was barely out of my teens, I thought, “Hey! That would be re­ally in­ter­est­ing: travel, flights in all sorts of air­planes and he­li­copters, meet­ing all sorts of in­ter­est­ing peo­ple…” In the wis­dom that comes with age, I re­al­ized that I once again es­caped be­com­ing a vic­tim of the jug­ger­naut that is war.

The tech­nolo­gies as­so­ci­ated with all sorts of trans­porta­tion and lo­gis­tics fas­ci­nate me. I study all sorts of things about air­craft, ships and ve­hi­cles, civil or mil­i­tary, serv­ing in peace or in war.

In my trav­els, I’ve vis­ited nu­mer­ous mu­se­ums. Nearby: Tren­ton, Rock­cliffe, Gatineau, Downsview, Hamil­ton… Farther away: South:

Pen­sacola, Florida; east: Hen­don, Eng­land; west: Co­mox, B.C. Rhyming these places off re­minds me of Johnny Cash’s and Stompin’ Tom’s “I’ve been ev­ery­where, man…”Yes, all those places deal with bat­tle­ships, air­craft car­ri­ers, sub­marines, bombers, fight­ers…

I got a first-hand sam­pling of how WW II avi­a­tors felt when I suc­ceeded in get­ting flights in mil­i­tary types such as a B-17 Fortress, B-24 Lib­er­a­tor, B-25 Mitchell, PBY-5A Canso and C-47 Dakota.

Un­like our brave veter­ans, I’ve not ex­pe­ri­enced flak ris­ing up from hos­tile ground far be­low, or trac­ers be­ing fired from the Hun com­ing out of the sun.

It was sober­ing to visit the BCATP (Bri­tish Com­mon­wealth Air Train­ing

Plan) Mu­seum at Bran­don, Man­i­toba. En­graved in the som­bre black gran­ite of the 300-foot long wall are the names of the 19,000 Com­mon­wealth air­crew who died in train­ing or com­bat. The 131,533 air­crew in to­tal who were trained are com­mem­o­rated in many ways across the na­tion: ceme­ter­ies, ceno­taphs, cer­e­monies.

That gran­ite wall re­minded me of the Viet Nam memo­rial that could have in­cluded my name too, if fate, cir­cum­stance, luck and prov­i­dence hadn’t in­ter­vened. When I gazed at that 493-foot wall in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., I was thank­ful that there was no Nick Wolochatiuk en­graved on it. Sadly, there are 58,320 other names.

Go to your lo­cal ceno­taph on the eleventh - or any other day of the year. Let us be grate­ful that our names are not there, but be for­ever in­debted to the many whose sac­ri­fice bought our free­dom.

Nick Wolochatiuk Dances with Words [email protected]

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