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Unearthing Mass Graves

Heroes Remember


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Unearthing Mass Graves

For somebody that has not been there the best way I could put the smell, okay I’ll combine the smells of three tours, first of all my tour in Croatia, Rwanda and as well going back to Bosnia. If you have ever been to a landfill site and it’s like taking meat and let it sit in 80 degrees for a week and let it ferment, that’s the type of smell. The smell of rotten flesh. I don’t want to jump ahead but I know when I was in Rwanda when we unearthed some graves we seen people that were burnt so we had the smell of burnt rotting flesh. And that smell would be if you would have burnt meat on a barbeque and then just left it on your patio for a few days, that’s what the smell is. And sometimes when I still go to dumps, the smell will put me back in place. Rwanda or Croatia, you know, the smell of flesh because I know one part when I was in Croatia it was done by, it was not Interpol, The Hague a bunch of people at The Hague and we cooperated with the civilian, civ pool there and went to an area where there was just the battle and between the, I can’t remember the name of that town, but it was a town. There was a Muslim population and I forget who was the aggressive force, either Croats or Serbs, but we had to go there to take pictures for the war crime bureaus and all that and that’s when we saw some mass graves. I remember one spot this guy crucified his wife in her wedding dress on the wall and it was all like rotten flesh and we had to take pictures of that stuff for the criminal courts later on so that’s where some of the smell of rotten flesh comes. And Rwanda, again the mass graves that we unearthed and had to rebury it because the wild dogs, because they would just put the bodies there and put a bit of dirt on it so at night the wild dogs would smell the flesh. They would go there and unearth the bodies and start chewing them and all that so we went there and fixed it all up so the victims had a proper burial. And if I remember right I think we took pictures of that again for The Hague, the court. So that’s where the flesh smells come from.

Mr. Allaire provides a very graphic and descriptive portrayal of the type of smells he experienced on all deployments, a memory that still haunts him.

Denis Allaire

Mr. Denis Allaire was born December 25, 1962 in Timmons, Ontario. As a young man, Mr. Allaire recalls his decision to join the military as a selfish opportunity for financial and security reasons and enlisted on a bet. He trained as a medic receiving trades training in Cornwallis, Ontario, OJT in Trenton, Ontario and then six month training at Borden, Ontario Medical School. Joining the 5 Field Ambulance Division as an army medic, Mr. Allaire deployed overseas, his first deployment being in 1993 to Croatia, then Rwanda followed by two tours to Bosnia. After 24 years of military service, he discharged from the military. Mr. Allaire retires having a great sense of pride for his contribution and is thankful that he made that decision in life to join the Canadian Forces.

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Veterans Affairs Canada
March 9, 2010
Person Interviewed:
Denis Allaire
5 Field Ambulance

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