Veteran Stories:
Ken Burneau

Army

  • Ken Burneau and fellow soldiers in front of their living tents in Dekham Hali, Africa. 2000.

    Ken Burneau and fellow soldiers in front of their living tents in Dekham Hali, Africa. 2000.
  • Coasters that were in the Junior Ranks mess while they were in Bosnia, 1999.

    Coasters that were in the Junior Ranks mess while they were in Bosnia, 1999.
  • The NATO force sent to Bosnia became known as the Stabilization Force or SFOR. Mr. Burneau wore this shoulder patch as part of this Stabilization Force. 1997.

    The NATO force sent to Bosnia became known as the Stabilization Force or SFOR. Mr. Burneau wore this shoulder patch as part of this Stabilization Force. 1997.
  • Soldiers minesweeping a field. Africa, 2000.

    Soldiers minesweeping a field. Africa, 2000.
  • Top:Living conditions for soldiers in Bosnia. Bottom: A destroyed house in Bosnia. 1997.

    Top:Living conditions for soldiers in Bosnia. Bottom: A destroyed house in Bosnia. 1997.
  • Top: A Bosnian village. Bottom: Seized equipment in Bosnia. 1997.

    Top: A Bosnian village. Bottom: Seized equipment in Bosnia. 1997.
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Transcript

My name is Cpl. Ken Burneau. I'm forty-two years old. I've been in the military for twenty-six years. I joined up in the Reserves at seventeen years old and still in high school. I started off as a radio operator. I then tried to become an airframe technician and then an administration clerk, and then I realized I actually liked being a radio operator, so I maintained being a radio operator for most of my career.

In 1997, I deployed to Bosnia on what was called S4, Roto 0 – Stabilization Force, Roto 0. I guess I expected to see the worst of what war is all about, and yet I was awed. As soon as you started going through these villages and seeing how decimated they were, the realization occurred that it was not all it was cut out to be. War is something that is not meant to be glorified. It's meant to be remembered and hopefully never repeated.

I repeated another tour in 1999/2000 in Bosnia, where I went back again and had a fantastic time, and I saw the changes that were made. I saw the rebuilding that was going on. We shared a camp in Valika Kladusa with the Czechoslovakian helicopter squadron. One of the great things about that was that the Czech pilots would want to learn how to speak English, and one of the funny things about it was that being Canadians, we have a tendency to say "eh" at the end of everything we say, and the Czechoslovakian pilots picked up on this. One of them had a bad habit of coming on the radio and saying his call sign as "Roger, eh," or "Over, eh," and it took about four months of the remainder of the tour that "eh" is not a Canadian word. It's just a slang.

After that, I deployed to Eritrea/Ethiopia for a UN mission called UNMEE. Our job there was to build the camp and build the defenses and get things ready for when the battle group came in. It was an eye-opener in a different respect as to what Bosnia was. We saw things that we only see on TV. For example: Starving children fighting for garbage. I thought of how lucky we are. What we really have at home. When you consider that's ten dollars a month these people live off of, you appreciate what we have.

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