Lest We Forget, 2023

I didn’t always have a great relationship with my father, but I respect the hell out of him for his military service.

Dad started as an army cadet in his teens, and served in the Canadian Armed Forces for more than two decades. During that time, he took our family overseas twice, to Yugoslavia and to the USSR. His first overseas deployment, though, was for peacekeeping.

Dad served with the Fort Garry Horse‘s Recce [reconnaissance] squadron in the Sinai in 1960 and 1961, as part of the UN Emergency Force established after the 1956 Suez Crisis. I believe the squadron was there for a year until relieved by the Strathconas, and I know my dad was there over Christmas from the photo album I have.

George Boyko posing by cactus on the road to Gaza

His Egypt photo album is filled with photos of his colleagues, equipment they used (jeeps, armoured cars, airplanes), many photos of Bedouin interacting with the Canadians, and a few of the parties they had. Fortunately their service over there was relatively peaceful.

Canada’s peacekeeping efforts started with Lester B. Pearson and the end of the Suez Crisis. Since then, we have deployed peacekeepers across the world numerous times. Some have been relatively quiet (Cyprus and Egypt), some have been extremely stressful for our peacekeepers (Bosnia and Rwanda come to mind), and some have been combat operations (the first Gulf War and especially Afghanistan). Our men and women have risen to the challenge many times and they’ll be called to do so again.

View from a UN jeep in the Sinai peninsula, 1960

Thanks for your service, dad, and thank you to all past and present members of the Canadian Armed Forces for the work you do. Most people don’t understand the toll it takes, and even as an army brat I’m sure I don’t understand either. Thank you.

See Also: They Shall Not Grow Old, Lest We Forget

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