Veteran Stories:
Don McLean

Army

  • Master Warrant Officer Don McLean and Warrant Officer Tiptalaloe Toe of the Kenyan Army. Namibia, 1989.

  • Master Warrant Officer Don McLean shaking hands with the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor-General of Canada.

  • Sergeant Don McLean inspecting the Quarter Guard while on United Nations duty in Cyprus. 1982.

  • Master Warrant Officer Don McLean pictured in his office in the Golan Heights while on United Nations duty in 1985.

  • During his time in Namibia (1989) Master Warrant Officer Don McLean was impressed by traditional costumes such as those pictured here on three Herero women.

  • A United Nations monument in Egypt. The monument consists of the remnants of a UN truck with a hole blown through the door.

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"I feel Canada should be very proud of its peacekeepers. They've been involved in peacekeeping for many, many years and have served on every mission that's come up."

Transcript

My name is Don McLean. I was with the Royal Canadian Electrical Mechanical Engineers. And I served in Cyprus, Namibia, UNEF2 in Egypt and the Golan Heights. Today, I would like to talk to you about my experiences in Cyprus. When I went over there in 1982, I was with the artillery at the time in Shilo. And we went over as a unit. I had been on a UN Tour before, but, they're all different. Now, when we got to Cyprus, our FCS Tech had been there before so, he took me uptown to have a look around and we stopped in at a local drinking establishment and it was run by a woman who had been married to a Canadian soldier, at one time and she had her business in Nicosia. So we went in, we spoke with her and spent a little time, and the next day we heard on the radio that she had been killed that night. Or, I guess some time after closing time. She had a Turkish boyfriend, I guess he'd come across the line and they'd had some disagreement and he had murdered her. So that was the start of our tour there. It was kind of under a cloud. But, I found Cyprus to be a very, very nice island and, through my travels there and my work there, I met Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots and I found them both to be very nice people.

I remember one day, one of our lads had been downtown on a parts run and he came back to camp and he motioned to me to come over to the vehicle and he said he needed a hand unloading something. And he slid the slide door of the van open and I reached in to help him lift stuff out and he had a curled-up snake on the floor. Well, it really scared me. The snake, of course, was dead. He'd run over it on the road. But, it still gives me quite a start.  We had three batteries there. One was in downtown Nicosia in Ledra Palace. The other was, where I was, at the Blue Beret Camp. And then we had Camp CML - Camp Maple Leaf. I was never stationed on the Green Line because I ran the workshop there and we repaired vehicles. So, the only time I got out and about is on the weekends or when I had some leave.

On my tour in Namibia, I met Sergeant Major Tipta Louis Toh. I thought there'd be big differences in the Kenyan Army and our Army, but, I think we both followed the British line of military training. And I found that his job and mine were very much alike. He was with a first line unit, so any major second line work that had to be done on his vehicles, they were brought in to Windhoek where our camp was and we looked after his second line repair work. I found him to be a very nice man and I talked to him on many occasions. In fact, I invited him over to Canada to come and visit sometime and he had told me that he didn't think he'd ever be able to do that because, in his family, he was the only one that had a job and, of course, all his pay cheque went back to Kenya to look after his parents and his brothers and sisters because things weren't as good there, of course, as we have it in our country.  I feel Canada should be very proud of its peacekeepers. They've been involved in peacekeeping for many, many years and have served on every mission that's come up. Canada can be very proud of its peacekeepers.

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