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Canadian Innovation Brought to Bosnia

Heroes Remember

Canadian Innovation Brought to Bosnia

I went back to Bosnia and my next job was being the divisional engineer responsible for rebuilding the north western third of Haiti. For that task I had engineers from Canada, Britain, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic plus any local engineers I could find. It was a particularly rewarding task because we managed to get the railways running again. We got a number of bridges rebuilt that had been demolished during the civil war. Schools were re-opened. We got a number of de-mining operations going. One of the things that was a very sad legacy of the civil war was the number of mines that remained in the ground around the country. And the reason there were so many mines was Tito’s defence policy. He didn’t want the Russians invading so every home was its own arsenal so when the civil war broke out folks essentially went to the woodpile, pulled out the rocket launchers, machine guns, mines, whatever else and went off to war. Unlike NATO forces who keep very strict surveyed records of where they put mines in the ground, folks who went off to war with their own personal mines would just lay them around themselves as personal protection and as soon as they would either move on or become casualties the next person would come in and lay additional mines and so you ended up with this very thick belt which snaked its way through the country of incredibly dense minefields and no one knowing exactly where they were other than you don’t go in that patch of woods. It was not uncommon for folks to strictly avoid pieces of ground. They knew where the mines were and we tried to copy their example. Actually I had an Australian major who was doing the overseeing of the teams who were doing the mine removal. Because we were training local folks and one of the Canadian innovations that we were using was explosive detection dogs. Traditional methods of getting rid of mines that are buried in the ground are things like flail tanks. But flail tanks are very destructive to the environment because they actually remove all of the topsoil while they are flailing. They also don’t work very well in thick vegetation or in ditches or other significantly uneven ground. Explosive detection dogs on the other hand do better the longer the mines are in ground because the explosives leaches out into the soil and the dogs can detect it better. So we pioneered that in Bosnia with the local folks and basically passed on the skills of how to train them and continually re-certify them.

With the use of trained detection dogs, Mr. Mac Culloch explains his role as divisional engineer in clearing landmines.

Wayne Mac Culloch

Wayne Mac Culloch was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, in 1953 and grew up in Quebec. He began his studies at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, at the age of 18 and would serve as a military engineer in the Canadian Armed Forces for more than 40 years. During his long and varied career, Mr. Mac Culloch served across Canada and took part in three overseas deployments to the Balkans and one to Haiti before being medically discharged with the rank of major. Still having a passion to serve, he went on to work as a civilian employee with the Department of National Defence. Since 2004, Mr. Mac Culloch has volunteered his time and talents to help deliver the “Peace Module” during the Historica Encounters with Canada program in Ottawa. Week after week, he has engaged with youth from coast to coast and educated them about the sacrifices and achievements of Canadians who have served in uniform over the years.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
November 9, 2016
Person Interviewed:
Wayne Mac Culloch
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Canadian Armed Forces

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