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Culture of Hatred

Heroes Remember

There it became obvious that people, certain groups hated each other. Cyprus it was a, a line on that map and you could see where that line was. Bosnia, there was no line, really, and we were working with some of the people and you had to be careful who you were bringing in the room with who else and you sort of got more into the human aspects of, of, of the job and we were moving around the country doing some of the, of the missions that we had to take, do, we were in different minority areas and we had to be a bit more cautious about what we were doing and how we were doing it and who we involved, and sometimes we could, we could take one translator, but not the other depending on where we went because of their religion. So there was, there was a lot of things at play that let you know that there was hatred in the country. I think it was much more obvious in the sense that you could, you know, they, they weren't warring in 1997, that it'd been kinda still or calm for at least eighteen months maybe twenty-four months, by that point in time, but you would go through villages that had been entirely decimated and they, one in every five houses left standing. I flew over an area in a, a, in a Black Hawk helicopter on one reconnaissance and you could see one village was gone, the next one was fine, you know, and talk about what, what happened, they were only five kilometres apart. One, the one village went to the other village and basically annihilated the village. That's what happened and the same thing with the housing and you went by that daily basically so... Even in Sarajevo you, in Sarajevo you could see exactly where the entire bombardment had happened for that entire two-year period. It's indelibly marked on the south side of every single apartment building all the way down the, the centre of town so, I don't know why, but it was just more obvious there was this hatred in, in the country and even though we'd talked about it and studied it, that was, it was harder to, I guess harder to deal with cause it was kinda there in the people that you dealt with. They didn't trust each other.

Mr. Gasser talks about how it became obvious that the people in Bosnia carried such a hatred for each other.

Steven Gasser

Major (Ret'd) Steven D. Gasser CD (RMC 1979) was born in 1956 and grew up primarily in Kimberley, British Columbia. When Mr. Gasser was 17 he was drawn to an ad put out by the Royal Military College highlighting a flying career and the educational benefits that went along with it. He wasted no time and enlisted on his 18th birthday, with the desire to learn how to fly and also acquire a degree in engineering. After his third summer of flight training his eyes did not meet the minimum requirement and Mr. Gasser had to fall back on his engineering degree. He graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) (Royal Military College of Canada, 1979). Once finished his Military Engineer training, Mr. Gasser joined his first unit 5e Regiment du Genie de Combat in Valcartier, Quebec, where he was appointed as a regimental intelligence officer and then engineer troop commander. In 1983 Mr. Gasser answered the call for an engineer troop commander in support of the UN peacekeeping operations in Cyprus. After six months in Cyprus, Mr. Gasser came back to Canada to work in the construction engineering section for the air force at CFB Edmonton, and later taught tactics with the CF School of Military Engineering at CFB Chilliwack. Mr. Gasser also worked in Maritime Command HQ in Halifax as a Senior Staff Officer, and as Base Engineer at CFB Shilo, MB. In December of 1997, Mr. Gasser was deployed to Bosnia as officer commanding the 1 Construction Engineering Unit - specialist engineer company where he was able to work closely with civilians helping them to rebuild the university, bridges and infrastructure. Mr. Gasser gave 24 years to the service. He retired in September 2008 and has subsequently been appointed as the Director, Environmental services for the Town of Banff 1998 – 2003; Assistant Deputy Minister, Public Works, Government of Yukon 2004 - 2008. He has been the Associate Vice-President, Facilities Management, at the University of Calgary since 2008.

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Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Steven Gasser
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
VA Cartier #1 Construction engineering

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