Veteran Stories:
Doug Cavener

Army

  • For saving a German civilian from a burning car Doug Cavener was the first Royal Canadian Regiment soldier to receive the Member of the Order of Military Merit for bravery.

    For saving a German civilian from a burning car Doug Cavener was the first Royal Canadian Regiment soldier to receive the Member of the Order of Military Merit for bravery.
  • The pin which displays Doug Cavener's name was at times part of proper attire.

    The pin which displays Doug Cavener's name was at times part of proper attire.
  • Two sets of dog tags. The top set was made while Doug Cavener was stationed in Cyprus, and features a decorative United Nations crest and his regimental crest.

    Two sets of dog tags. The top set was made while Doug Cavener was stationed in Cyprus, and features a decorative United Nations crest and his regimental crest.
  • This article outlines the course of events that led to Doug Cavener being awarded the Member Military Merit for bravery. The German saved from the burning car was a civilian.

    This article outlines the course of events that led to Doug Cavener being awarded the Member Military Merit for bravery. The German saved from the burning car was a civilian.
  • This letter advises Doug Cavener that the actions which earned him "Driver of the Month" have also earned him the title Member of the Order of Military Merit.

    This letter advises Doug Cavener that the actions which earned him "Driver of the Month" have also earned him the title Member of the Order of Military Merit.
  • Doug Cavener's medals (left to right): MILITARY: Member of the Order of Military Merit, NATO Special Service Medal, Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal, UN Force in Cyprus Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, Canadian Forces Decoration. LEGION: 75th Anniversary Medal, Past Officer Medal, Past Branch President Medal (with 2nd year clasp).

    Member of the Order of Military Merit, NATO Special Service Medal, Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal, UN Force in Cyprus Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, Canadian Forces Decoration, Legion medals.
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Transcript

My name is Doug Cavener. I have been a Legion Member for the past 32 years. My military career started when I was a Cadet, at age 15. Then on to the Militia and, finally, to the regular force where I served with four different outfits - 1 RCR, 2 RCR, 3 Mechanized Commando and Administration.

I did two tours of United Nations Peacekeeping duties in Cyprus: from October '66 to April '67, and from November '74 to June '75. My first tour of duty in Cyprus was in Kyrenia with A Company Headquarters where we supplied the outpost with food, clothing, etcetera. My biggest thrill was being presented my United Nations medal from the United Nations Assembly. My second tour of duty was a little more exciting, as the Turk Cypriots invaded the island and took over the Kyrenia area. We were there just for observation and we used to watch the Greek Cypriots and the Turk Cypriots fight with each other over water rights and over land rights. We worked out of the Ledra Palace at the time and I had a sad experience when one of our captains was shot in the next balcony to mine.

In 1969, while stationed in Zost, Germany, I was working as a battalion dispatcher in transport. A call came in from one of our drivers, who was broken down and needed some parts for his vehicle. Myself and another driver volunteered for that duty. While driving through a small German town, a driver came at me on the wrong side of the road and drove his Volkswagen right underneath my 5-ton truck. When I saw the vehicle burst into flames, I leaped out of mine and the driver behind me shouted, "The man is still in his burning vehicle." So I went over and opened the door and the flames were running up his pant legs. I tried to pull him out, but his seatbelt was still hooked up. The other driver, Steve, gave me a knife and I went back with my coat over my head and cut the seatbelt loose and pulled him out by his arms. At this time the ambulance and police had arrived and they took him to the hospital.

After returning home to Canada, we were called out to the FLQ crisis and our battalion was stationed in Ottawa. In December of 1972, I received a phone call from my commanding officer telling me that I was nominated for the MMM Award, which is the Member of the Military Merit, for what I did in Germany and I was invested at Rideau Hall in Ottawa by Right Honourable Roland Michener, on the 12th of December, 1972.

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