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Canadian Forces in Africa

Heroes Remember

Canadian Forces in Africa

Africa was, it was right in the transition between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which was actually the last conventional war that was ever fought was between those two. And I was working with the CQ staff, you know, boys are out on the line and I was lucky enough to go and you drop rations off to them and everything. And that tour was probably, I wouldn’t say the most rewarding but you could actually see progress, you know, with the locals and stuff. And even though you are out in the middle of the desert in Africa, I remember we were driving to drop off food one day and we drove over a little boy’s soccer ball and of course he started crying. We drove back to the camp and we bought him a new soccer ball and he just, you know, grinning ear to ear. Interviewer: And what was the sole purpose for the Canadian Forces to be in Africa at that time? Just to monitor the withdrawal of the Ethiopian forces and the Eritrean forces to create that solid line between the two. And then once that was formed and basically Africa took over and they had their own troops move in from different countries all over Africa. Like Kenyans took over our camp and they just monitored to make sure that the fighting didn’t kick up again. My thought because we were going to the desert it was going to be hot. It was extremely hot during the day and then it would probably be 45 during the day and then drop down to 15 at night. So it got really cold at night and I never thought that ever. So I brought shorts and everything and then I called my wife, I was like okay send me some sweatshirts and track pants and stuff. But ya, we had really nice accommodations. It was, I forget what they are called but it was kind of like a little Quonset hut and we had air conditioning, thank God. We had a little camp set up and we were right on basically the top of a mountain. The scenery was amazing. If you were there for a holiday it would have been beautiful. Just the heat, the elevation. It took probably a month and a half to get used to the elevation for breathing and stuff like that but ya, it was quite the spot.

Mr. Reist discusses his time in Africa and the type of living conditions experienced.

Mike Reist

Mr. Mike Reist was born December 18, 1969 in Waterloo, Ontario. Having had a great uncle as a role model, Mike made the choice to join the Canadian Forces, only advising his family of these intentions two weeks prior to attending infantry training. Mike joined with 2 RCR, 2nd Battalion Infantry Division and held rank of warrant officer. Mike has a long record of service overseas - Cyprus 1991, Bosnia 1992,’96, ’99, Africa 2000, Afghanistan 2003, ’07 and Haiti in 2005. Mike had 27½ years of military service. Mike is very proud of his military career and is quoted as saying, “It’s the best thing that ever happened!” Upon medical release, Mike was stricken with PTSD and has become an advocate in speaking out about this condition. He is presently active with the Soldier On program and has competed in the Invictus Games in Toronto 2017 as part of Team Canada’s wheelchair rugby. Mike presently resides in Gagetown, New Brunswick with his wife and family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
September 29, 2017
Person Interviewed:
Mike Reist
Royal Canadian Regiment
Warrant Officer

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