Veteran Stories:
George Myatte

Army

  • Left: A photograph of George Myatte at the Sarajevo airport while serving with the United Nations Protection Force.
    Right: A photograph of the Sarajevo airport as of October, 2013.

  • George Myatte at Sarajevo Airport in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Armoured vehicles are visible in the background – a BMP-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle and a BOV Armoured Personnel Carrier, both displaying the flag of the Republika Srpska (Serbian Republic).

    George Myatte
  • Christmas Greetings postcard from M Company, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment during the 1990-1991 Gulf War.

    George Myatte
  • Regular Force Canadian Mechanized Brigade Groups patches: 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (left) and that of its previous designation, the Special Service Force (right).

    George Myatte
  • George Myatte's service medals.

    George Myatte
  • 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment on joint Canadian-US training exercise in New York.

    George Myatte
  • George Myatte in the mountains of northern Norway.

    George Myatte
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"The United Nations decided to send in two battalions, that were outside the airport waiting in armoured vehicles – that would have been the 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, also the Van Doo regiment. That, basically, insured that the airport was going to be secure."

Transcript

I’m Corporal Myatte. Currently I'm working for the 4th Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, London, Ontario as a resource management – what we call an RMS person – and I'm responsible for the administration of the orderly room for about 200 people in the unit that are Reservists. I served 20 years in the Regular Force. Started my career with 1 RCR, which is the 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment. We did a lot of training with different forces – American forces, British forces, all different types of forces.

The company that I work with, our main role was advanced reconnaissance behind enemy lines. We got the word that we were going to go to the [1990-1991] Gulf War. We didn’t send the whole battalion, it was the 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment – my company which was sent to the [Persian] Gulf. And our responsibility was the security and setting up of a camp for the Canadian aircraft that were on the ground there, to protect them from any type of terrorist threats. That was fairly uneventful. We left from Qatar, where we were in the Gulf War, and we went to Germany.

A year later, if that, we got the word on Yugoslavia. So, we were the first Canadians into that conflict [Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s]. I served under Brigadier General [Lewis W.] MacKenzie at the time. Our unit, 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, were all deployed. I was on the advanced recce part of that unit. We spent most of the time in Yugoslavia traveling all the different sites. Mostly the hot spots, talking to different commanders of the Croatian, Serb, and other factions. And that was definitely, entertaining, to say the least.

When we got into Yugoslavia, we were sent by General MacKenzie to secure Sarajevo Airport. We did take the airport. We were there for, I think, a matter of about four days and the fighting was pretty intense. Then they decided to withdraw the advanced reconnaissance group out of Sarajevo Airport. We were doing, what we would call in the military, withdrawal. When the President of France, President [François] Mitterrand, landed on the airport unexpectedly, that changed events considerably. At that time the United Nations – once the President of France actually landed on the airport, because it was insecure – the United Nations decided to send in two battalions, that were outside the airport waiting in armoured vehicles – that would have been the 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, also the Van Doo regiment [Le Royal 22e Régiment]. That, basically, insured that the airport was going to be secure.

Our duties continued throughout Yugoslavia. I worked primarily with a lieutenant from the Van Doo regiment in Noverdadisca, where we did opening and closing of a controlled border between the Serbs and the Croats. Different people had been either killed or... friends of mine have lost their legs from anti-personnel mines and shrapnel from a lot of the exploded ordnance going off there. We were there for about six months, when we were replaced by Van Doos and we were sent to Baden-Baden, Germany, which ended the Canadians’ tour in Europe. Basically, the Canadian Forces, as a whole, ceased to be part of the [NATO] commitment to Germany. And that’s when the Canadian government decided to remove all Canadian forces out of Germany, because they thought it was costing them something like five billion dollars Canadian a year. So, we effectively closed out Germany and a chapter of our Canadian history and with Canadians in Europe.

I retired out of the Canadian Forces with 20 years in and come to work as a Reservist on a Class B, which is basically a full-time position with 4 RCR in London, Ontario. And the reason I decided to retire is because my children were in London, Ontario and at that time I thought it was great to serve your country and go all over the world, but at the same time I didn’t want my children to grow up without a father. It just didn’t seem right.

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