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Arranged Marriages

Heroes Remember

One of the highlights of my tour after the Gulf War was over was in Syria. I was appointed by the UN to be the go between, between Israel and Syria on the exchange of Druze. Now Druze is a special part of Shiites. When the Golan Heights was taken in ‘73, ‘67 and ‘73, the villages were separated and they're all separated by a fence. There hadn't been any exchange between them so they were finally going to have an exchange between the villages so that relatives could visit. Marriages had been arranged with loud halers over the fence and I was going to be the one responsible escorting the ones going from, the brides that were going to go over from Israel to Syria with all the stuff so I escorted three brides across while I was there. And when this happened it was a major production because on the Israeli side they had every security agency that was there and it was regimented and disciplined and everything else so they finally released them to me, I'd walk him across the “no man's land” and then... At a wedding the bride would be taken over, her mom and dad and the Mukhtar of the village could come with me up to the midpoint. The Mukhtar of the other village, the groom and his parents could come to the middle point. They had five minutes in which they could converse, then I had to escort the bride by herself with the rest of the contingent on the other side. But when you get to the other side it was mass confusion. Everybody was there from the village and they'd be, oh, it was something else. But this to coordinate that because the Red Crescent would speak to the International Red Cross in Vienna who would contact Israel and Israel would contact the, and the International Red Cross would contact Jerusalem where the government house, where the UN house was, and I was tasked to do the escorting so that was quite an experience. Interviewer: And that was going to be my next question. One would never think that a Canadian military service personnel was tasked to do such a thing. No, like it was part of my job. I was a UNMO and they sent me out there to do that.

When weddings were arranged between people of the same religion living on either side of the heavily guarded Syria-Israeli border, it was part of Mr. Gallant’s duties to escort them.

Fred Gallant

Born into an Acadian family in Mont-Carmel, Prince Edward Island, Mr. Gallant joined the Army and rose to the rank of Captain. He served two tours in Cyprus as part of the United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) during the 1970s and 1980s as Battery Captain. His methods helped many soldiers and his interventions most likely saved the lives of his own, and many Greeks and Turks. Years later, now a Major, he became a UN Military Observer as part of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), maintaining the peace between Israel, Lebanon and Syria. He worked in all three middle eastern countries and has some eye opening stories to tell.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Fred Gallant
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Royal Montreal Regiment

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