Canadian Vietnam Vets

As we edge ever closer to Canada’s Remembrance Day 2006, I take it upon myself to remember Canada’s Vietnam Veterans, as, if history is any kind of a teacher, Canada will give them not a crumb of respect for their service. This post was made at “Blatherings” on 10 February 2005:

It was like we came home as thieves in the night

Recently there was a snarky dialogue between the CBC’s Bob McKeown and Ann Coulter on a state sponsored television show called the The Fifth Estate. American Coulter reminded the Canadians of something they refuse to acknowledge; that their young citizens had served with the U.S. in Vietnam. Canadian bloggers have gone ballistic and attacked her as a liar and worse and have even attacked and disrespected the Canadian soldiers who fought in their behalf, against Communism. At Blogs Canada E-group there was the following comment from one of those “morally superior” Canadians: “Plus if I’m not mistaken, most of those thousands of Canadians were Aboriginals who signed up after being given a fantasyland pitch by US military recruiters.” made by Robert McClellan. Sounds to me like those tiresome “morally superior than the U.S.” Canadians do not consider that “Aboriginals” could even count as Canadians, much less Canadian troops.

As here in the US, at this very moment, we have brave young soldiers willing to sacrifice their lives to keep us (and Canada) free, I find such comments extremely offensive. As Americans, let us never see our battle weary soldiers return home as thieves in the night. I think Canada should be ashamed.

Dennis Thomson was twenty-one years old when he boarded a bus in Hamilton, Ontario to cross the international border at Buffalo and join the United States military. This was at the same time that thousands of American draft-dodgers and deserters were going north into Canada and being welcomed as heroes. However, most Americans viewed the border crossings a bit differently, as an old grizzled Marine said; “we sent them our worst and they sent us their best.

“Thomson served two tours of duty as a combat medic in Vietnam, one in 1968 during the Tet Offensive and another in 1971. Between tours, he served in a med-evac hospital in Japan.

He has two answers for why he went to Vietnam. “Why not?” and more seriously, because he could not allow himself to sit back and let somebody else go instead.

He reaches back into his memory and recites an old Indian proverb: “We do not for ourselves alone, but die for others.”

“There’s a certain percentage of men who have the call, the call for freedom,” he says, “and that’s a good enough reason for anyone to do this.”

After the war, Dennis Thomson returned to Canada to live. On Memorial Day, 1999, he visited the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. for the third time to read some of the 58,000 names etched there. He and some others placed small Maple Leaf flags along the walls where the names of Canadians appear. He said “This is the American way of saying, ‘lest we forget‘.” He said that despite all the medals and ribbons awarded, none of the Canadian Vietnam veterans ever received any official recognition of their service from either the Canadian or U.S. government. “We never got a parade when we got home all we had was our brothers,” he said. “It was like we came home as thieves in the night“.
Canadian Hawks Fly South


38 Responses to Canadian Vietnam Vets

  1. nagaijin says:

    Nice one, Kerfuffles! The minute someone proves your postings are ill-informed, rehashed nonsense (well-done, Ms. Faulkner!), you erase all the comments and put the same silly posting up again. You’re merely a propagandist. Or maybe I was right the first time: you’re really a leftist trying to make rightists look stupid. Well you’ve certainly succeeded, with your censorship.
    In the unlikely chance that anyone else is reading this posting, Ms Anne Faulkner’s excellent site commemorates Canadian Vietnam vets while specifically disavowing Neddy’s curious obsession. I recommend it.
    (link removed at request of the site’s webmistress)

    The air of truth smells sweeter over there.

  2. Kerfuffles says:

    What in the world are you talking about? I’ve not erased anyone’s comments! Get your facts straight before you make accusations.

  3. nagaijin says:

    Well, where are they? Look at your post.

    No comments are showing up.

  4. Neddy says:

    Colin – Perhaps you are viewing a “cache” page. Go to the page linked above and press the “CTRL” key on your keyboard whilst clicking the “RELOAD” button on your tool bar. That forces the browser to show the latest page.

    Lesson: Never trust what you see on the Internet as the Gospel Truth.

  5. nagaijin says:

    Hi, Neddy,
    Just wondering what you think of Ms. Faulkner’s excellent website. It’s comemmorates the Canadian Vets and specifically links to a Canadian Peacekeeper memorial page.

  6. Neddy says:

    Colin, I have naught but praise for the site that Ann Faulkner links from these comments. It is a great tribute to veterans, most of whom are American, I am proud to say. I see only two links there to Canadians. I think that Canada’s Defence Department does an outstanding job with their Book of Remembrance for Canadian veterans. A relative of mine is memorialized HERE. This is the page that I made for him sometime ago: Frank Heming, World War I.

  7. nagaijin says:

    And what do you think about this comment Ms. Faulkner posted here the other day?

    Neddy is not interested in the truth of all of this. and refuses to see the distinction between Canadian Peacekeepers serving in disarmament and Canadians who served with United States Forces in Vietnam.

    I have, consequent to this continued confusion – not helped at all by Neddy et al, put up a clarification on the website above.

    This blog – and, respectfully, your time.. is wasted here with this individual and her position only furthers this continued obfuscation of the “truth”.

    There has been so much misinformation about the Vietnam War across the Board, that one would hope that it would not be perpetuated as it is here by Neddy. It seems to me that if she is so concerned about Canadian Vietnam Veterans, she would want to have the truth surrounding the details of their service known.

    One would “think” that she would also want the truth about the service of our Canadian Peacekeepers.

    It has to do with honour, respect, remembrance, lineage and country. I haven’t found it on her blog.


  8. Kerfuffles says:

    Surprise! Surprise! I disagree with everything she writes in that post you quote. I understand the difference between the Canadian Peacekeepers and Canadian Vietnam Veterans. In fact these are my words written a year ago:

    “In 1973, the International Commission of Control and Supervision Vietnam (ICCS) was responsible for securing the armistice that lasted two years from 1973 to 1975, known as Operation Gallant. Canada, a member of the commission, contributed Canadian Forces whose role was to monitor the cease-fire in South Vietnam, according to the Paris Peace Conference, and to arrange the release and exchange of more than 32,000 prisoners of war. The Canadian Armed Forces won a Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in Vietnam”. (Canada’s Remembrance)

    Anne Faulkner’s comment that she has found NO “honour, respect, remembrance, lineage and country” on my blog, is not only UNTRUE, it is extremely disrespectful to Kerfuffles who has given her carte blanche to ramble and rant here at “my blog” about her own website to which she always links.

    How shocking it is for such mean spiritedness to come from a Canadian. Seems to me that Anne Faulkner is making a poor imitation of Ann Coulter with such outrageous comments meant only to garner publicity for herself.

  9. nagaijin says:

    Yes, you’ve written that several times, and I keep telling you that the Canadian Armed Forces did not win the Nobel Peace Prize. In most of the Vietnam and post-Vietnam years, the prize was not awarded at all. Check Google. Check the Nobel Committee’s website. And please be good enough to correct this misinformation.

  10. Neddy says:

    That is the first I have understood you to say that the Canadian Armed Forces did NOT win the Nobel Peace Prize. If I am wrong, I will correct that. Perhaps it was Operation Gallant or the ICCS. I will find out.

  11. Neddy says:

    In 1988, Canada and our peace-keeping forces shared in winning the Nobel Peace Prize. (Proceedings of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, OTTAWA, Tuesday, February 3, 1998)

    Colin – I, am rescinding my comment saying I was wrong, because I just found my source documents. Nevertheless, I thank you for instigating me to clarify the claim, which I will do.

    In 1988, the Nobel Committee recognized the good work that UN Peacekeepers had accomplished by awarding them the Nobel Peace Prize. The prize was awarded for United Nations-service/Korea service up until 10 December 1988, when the Nobel Peace Prize Award was granted. Therefore, these UN Peacekeepers included the Canadian peacekeeping troops of Operation Gallant, 1973, the military operation associated with the International Commission of Control and Supervision (ICCS) Vietnam whose role it was to monitor the cease-fire in South Vietnam as per the Paris Peace Accords.

    See Canadian Peacekeepers and THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE 1988.

  12. nagaijin says:

    “The Canadian Armed Forces won a Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in Vietnam”. No, the United Nations Peace-Keeping Organization won the Nobel Prize (deservedly). Everybody knows that. You said the Canadian Armed Forces won specifically for going to Vietnam, and that’s ridiculous.

  13. Neddy says:

    I stand by my statement: “The Canadian Armed Forces won a Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in Vietnam”. My information comes from your own Canadian Veterans Affairs and your own Canadian Parliament.

    Canadian Parliament, 12 March 1997
    Mr. Jack Frazer: I think you will all have received a letter from the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association. In it, in the fourth paragraph, they point out that Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar said in 1988, when announcing the award:

    This Nobel Peace Prize is to be shared by every member of the UN Peacekeeping Force since its inception.

    That meant that Nobel Peace Prize was shared equally amongst the people who qualified for it at that time.

    The Government of Canada has built a peacekeeping monument here in Ottawa, but there is no way for any individual, regardless of what medals he is wearing, to indicate he or she was a valid recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize when it was given to the then peacekeepers. That is what the people in the Peacekeeping Veterans Association are keen to have: recognition that they were part of the peacekeepers who won that recognition for Canada. It could be said that others since that time have done basically the same thing, but the truth is, of course, that the Nobel Peace Prize has not been awarded since 1988, so the people before that time do qualify, the ones post that time do not qualify.

    My question to you is why do you want to diminish the sacrifice and service of your own country’s military forces just because they happened to do their peacekeeping service in Vietnam?

  14. nagaijin says:

    Well obviously because I’m a communist.

  15. Neddy says:

    That explains it all.

  16. nagaijin says:

    I don’t get it. You say that the Canadian government is denying our involvement as Peacekeepers in Vietnam, yet you quote the Minister of Defence mentioning the Nobel Peace Prize. I think the Minister of Defence is a member of the Government?

  17. Neddy says:

    Colin – You are continually quoting me as writing comments that I have never written. Why don’t you prove these comments that I have NEVER written, by giving a link to my writings where you can prove me wrong? Where is a link to me writing that the Canadian government denied their Peacekeepers were in Vietnam? You cannot provide a link, because I have never written any such thing!

    I am the ONE who wrote about awards the Canadian Peacekeepers received, not only from their own government, but from the Nobel Peace Prize committee. I am only quoting the Canadian government members to prove to you that the Operation Gallant (ICCS) Canadian Peacekeepers, most of whom were official Canadian military troops, did indeed receive a Nobel Peace Prize for their service in Vietnam.


  18. nagaijin says:

    “He said that despite all the medals and ribbons awarded, none of the Canadian Vietnam veterans ever received any official recognition of their service from either the Canadian or U.S. government.”

  19. Anne Faulkner says:

    During operation Gallant – to supervise the “ceasefire”. The Canadian Peacekeepers did NOT serve IN the Vietnam War.

    Actually, there is at least one Canadian that I know of who was awarded the Medal of Honor by the United States. Many Bronze Stars. Is that not recognition Neddy? or do you place no value on that either because it doesn’t fit in with your blinders perspective.

    You certainly don’t appear to place any value on the truth of the history of the Vietnam War.

  20. Kerfuffles says:

    Colin – The quote you cite was from an actual Canadian Vietnam veteran, Dennis Thomson, not from me, although I did include it in a posting that I made last year at “Blatherings.” It appears in a biography of him dated 2 June 1999, which you may read on-line.

  21. Bernie says:

    I am a Decorated Vietnam Veteran (62 years old now) who lives in Canada and when I read your comments and arguments it sounds like inconsequental “bar fights”. Those that served in Vietnam know that old men in governments plan and start wars and send off the young men to fight them. In the end they are forgotten and only have themselves. You want to know who ignored the Vietnam Vets in both the USA and Canada more than the government – the WW2 Veterans. We were not welcome in their Legions and Clubs until recently when their numbers diminish and they need new blood. God Bless my brothers and stop arguing about what doesn’t matter.

  22. David A. Smith says:

    I went to Vietnam (2 days warning) in HMCS Terra Nova ‘Westploy 73’. We were never in amongst the nastiness I will be the first to admit but we lost a shipmate and dropped 1/3 of our ships company all over SEA with something called ‘Viral Pneumonia’. Our armed forces was and is (as I was told) required to give a pension for life for a diagnosis of Malaria, hence Viral Pneumonia.
    Anyhow I digress. Unless I am mistaken there is a law in this country that requires any of its citizens to seek approval from our government to participate in someone else’s war in another uniform.
    It took our government the better part of 20 years to decide that I had actually participated and made a contribution and presented me with the SSM and CPSM for service rendered (mailed them to me).
    Right or wrong, we have a tradition in this country of giving as little recognition as possible for service rendered, that includes our public.

    It gets up my nose therefore when I attend 11/11/11 in this country and see my peers wearing rows of ribbons I dont recognize knowing full well they are for service in someone else’s war.
    This is Canada, my grandfather served in two wars, my three uncles (one buried in Holland) and father in one and I was born and raised in the RCAF and joined the RCN/CF(S).
    Enough said?

  23. G. B. Morgan says:

    Hhmmmm … The SSM and/and CPSM for Operation Gallant!
    Well, I was part of HMCS Kootenay’s crew when we relieved HMCS Terra Nova in Asian waters in ’73. Twenty-seven years later I was “encouraged to apply” for the CPSM, “if I wanted the medal”; which arrived in the mail several months later.
    There was no mention of a SSM; but I always remember being told we “would qualify for a UN medal”.
    Do we feel forgotten and overlooked? I guess so!
    I was also aboard Kootenay on October 23, 1969 – another incident we, the royal we, don’t talk about much.

  24. John Appler says:

    I’am another of the Operation Gallant, or as we knew it then Westploy 73, vets, having served on HMCS Terra Nova, that had to apply for the SSM in 1998. When I received it in 2000, I was advised that I was also eligible for the CPSM which I applied for and received. It is my understanding that until the CPSM was created the SSM with Peace Bar was the decoration for Operation Gallant. After the introduction of the CPSM the SSM was not given to Operation Gallant vets. It sounds like a double standard to me. I proudly wear both as a recognition of the service myself and my shipmates made and the supreme sacrifice one of them made. Canada has changed over the past 30 plus years since that operation. The military are now considered passe or longer relevant in todays Canadian society. Society is more concerned about the rights and freedoms they enjoy rather than the sacrifice made to allow them to live in this freedom. I’m a proud supporter of Red Fridays and fully support the roles our military now take in the international theatre. Dave it was good to hear from another PENGUIN.

  25. Larry Zilinsky says:

    First of all, good to see a couple of names from the Terra Nova crew! I too finally heard thru the grapevine in 2003 about Terra Nova crew members being eligible for two medals for Westploy ’73 ( Operation Gallant), so I applied for them and got them several months later. So typical of Canada to not bother to award them when we returned from the tour ( they WERE available then) or to even let us know we were eligible for them! In regards to the Kootenay guys, I was told they weren’t eligible for the medals because they weren’t over there long enough – they relieved us in July and came home shortly after that if I remember right. Nevertheless, goodonthem anyway! Any Terra Nove guys want to keep in touch I’m at It’d be cool to hear from you!

  26. Doug Lumley says:

    Let me throw my comments into the ring. As a shipmate with David, John and Larry I too had the same challenges getting the medals. It took 25 years for the SSM and another 3 years for the CPSM. The SSM did come with a little more ceremony that just receiving it in the mail. As it turned out I had the medal shipped to HMCS Discovery. As it turned out when I was summoned to be presented with the medal at Discovery it happened to be open house. The coxswain tracked down the Commanding Officer to do the official presentation in the drill shed. As we approached this short three ringer from behind everything appeared to be quite normal. I wasn’t until Commander Dan Aikens turned around that I got a great shock. The short white bearded Commanding Officer turned out to be Ordinary Seaman Dan Aikens from HMCS Qu’Appelle; I sailed with Dan in 1968 right out of Cornwallis until I joined Terra Nova.

  27. […] On October 26, 2006 I wrote: “In 1988, Canada and our peace-keeping forces shared in winning the Nobel Peace Prize. (Proceedings of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, OTTAWA, Tuesday, February 3, 1998.” See Canadian Peacekeepers and THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE 1988. […]

  28. Master Seaman D. A. Smith says:

    I am not certain if anyone reads this colum anymore but feel compelled to add my 2 cents worth.
    I served in HMCS Terra Nova sent in support of the ICCS in 1973. I have a deep and profound problem with Canadians who crossed the border, served,, came home and are annoyed that our government has and will not do anything for them.
    I would like to point out that it is illegal to serve in another nations armed forces without the permission of our Government.
    After many years (typically Canadian) my Government decided that my service was of some value and I now wear the Special Service Medal and the Canadian Peace Keeping Service Medal. Thats it game over. I find it is both typically Canadian and sufficient, it is after all our way.
    You can probably understand my deep discomfort at seeing Canadians who served in a foreign national armed forces who are indignant that Canada couldnt care less about them.
    We lost two of our ships company and dropped 1/3 of our crew all over south east Asia who were parked in hospitals in such exotic place as a Royal Malay Army jungle hosptial. No biggy perhaps but we were there serving our nation.
    Sent in memory of LS. Ned Memnook and Ms. Lester Calder (who died subsequently).

    Mater Seaman David A. Smith (hon. rel.)

  29. Master Seaman D. A. Smith says:

    Zipper, Doug! and our Kootenay brothers! whatever else, it is wonderful to see your still on the right side of the front lawn! Bravo Zulu!
    For the Kootenays, I will never ever forget the day our sister (identical but for the hull number) slid across our stern outside Subic. I was standing on the flag deck and she had a backdrop of palm trees. It was (after 6 months) deeply moving to me to know our friends and fellow shipmates from Esquimalt hadn’t forgotten us.


  30. Larry Zilinsky says:

    Heh Heh Heh, just happened to drop in again and lo n behold here’s a few more additions! Hi Dave ! In case nobody knew, there was actually a third medal for service over there, but it was only given to the ICCS people that were actually on the beach. Myself, Dave Hughes, Doug Lumley and Mike Gracewood tried for a few months via contacts in Ottawa to get this third medal, but after all the buck passing and people not wanting to admit they screwed up and we should have got it ( they did agree that we should have) we were told it wasn’t going to happen! At first they even told us that if we sent one of the two back that we already had they would send the other one, the one that’s actually specific to that tour alone! How typically Ottawa! Anyway, what the hell, WE know what we did and what took place,eh! Good to see Y’all are still around!

  31. […] On October 26, 2006 Kerfuffles wrote: “In 1988, Canada and our peace-keeping forces shared in winning the Nobel Peace Prize. (Proceedings of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, OTTAWA, Tuesday, February 3, 1998.” (See Canadian Peacekeepers and THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE 1988.) […]

  32. G.B.Morgan says:

    Details of Westploy 2/73 may be found at:

    According to the scribes, Kootenay sailed from Esquimalt 14May and relieved Terra Nova 06Jun in the Straits of San Bernardino (The Phillipines). Westploy 2/73 formally terminated on 31July.

  33. John Moon says:

    Hello there. Didn’t know about kerfuffle, until I did a search on info about Westploy 73. Good to see a few shipmates making comments and there feeling know. Until now I did not know about the medals available to those who served on Terra Nova. Where do we get the forms to apply?

  34. Brian McLennan says:

    My God how good it is to see Amazing Gracewood, Zipper and my friend John Moon-the one-eared Indian!
    I just heard from Paul Legacy…he’s planning a Terra Nova reunion on April 17, 2010.
    It would be great to see you-all again.
    Brian McLennan

  35. Cameron says:

    Anne Faulkner,

    In Operation Gallant they supervised the ceasefire and were there to help recover POW’s. Look at it however you want, but that’s still participating in the Vietnam War and some Canadian soldiers were killed.

    And Canada did issue medals to soldiers in Operation Gallant:

    Hopefully these facts get absorbed into your old bitter replies.

  36. neddy says:

    Thank you Cameron for your comment and for the link to the medal. ~~Edna Barney

  37. marc fortier says:

    I served in op gallant,in one of the teamsites.
    As far as I know, this was not a UN or NATO operation, so no peace prize,no blue beret.
    We did get a crackerjack medal and were told if we wanted the good quality version we had to pay for it.
    We did not get the SSM but could apply for the mailorder peacekeeper medal.

  38. David A. Smith says:

    So good to hear from you! and Zipper and Amazing Gracewood,Brianl
    John once asked me a question that still makes me laugh. He said “As you know David one day I will probably be the Chief of my tribe” ! if I remain in the navy will i have to change my name to Chief Chief?

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