In Memoriam - forever
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]