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Heroes Remember

If we go back to the Gulf War, I was talking about some of the things that happen and I think I should relate the story of Liam. Liam was a young Canadian baby that was born. Some of the people, when he had arrived, Bill Luan had arrived in the Middle East before the invasion so he had brought his wife and so he was able to keep her there, basically until the Gulf War was breaking out when Canadian government ordered all the dependents out of there and a lot of them went to Cyprus, but they brought the Canadians all back to Canada. Other UN people they went to Cyprus for the duration of the Gulf War. But we couldn't evacuate Cindy because Cindy was nine months pregnant and her doctor who was an Israeli doctor, pediatrician, said she can't travel. She's got to stay here so we waited and waited. She was one of us type thing. We'd go out to a restaurant after the Gulf War broke out because we couldn't find any place else to eat and we'd go in there and there was nobody in the restaurant except this couple of thin staff to feed us. And then she went in, had the baby and the government is screaming, get her out of there, get her out of there, get the baby out of there. Liam couldn't be evacuated because Liam didn't have a birth certificate yet and he didn't have a passport. So he couldn't leave and the Israelis wouldn't issue a birth certificate until he had been born ten days. So closing in on the ten days, they got the birth certificate, got the passport issued and so on and they were going to leave in two days. And I was on a trip with the husband, with Bill, and Bill said, “I'd love to have him baptized before he heads for home you know,” he says, “ you never know!” So I said, “Well, yeah, that would be really nice if you could.” And we're driving by the Jordan River at the time on the way back from the Golan Heights down to Nahariya and I said, “Why don't we get some Jordan water and baptize him with the Jordan River water!” So we had a botte of clamato juice with us so we drank the clamato juice, rinsed out the bottle, picked up the water, brought it out and we arrived back in Nahariya and it was five to five and every Saturday night, and this was Saturday night, a Moroccan priest used to come and say mass for all the Catholics and he would say it in our bar at the UN house. So he walks over to the priest. He says, “Would you baptize my baby?” The priest assumed that it would be at a later date and he said, “Yes, I'd be happy to.” So Bill immediately rushed home, grabbed his wife and baby and arrived back at twenty after five and he says, “I'm here for the baptism!” And the priest says, “But I haven't got the text in English,” he says, “I've only got the text in Arabic.” Bill said, “Well, we're leaving in two days and he's got to be baptized before he goes.” So he says, “Okay, I'll do it!” So I go and strain the water out through a coffee filter to get as much as the dirt out of it as I can so we had an earthenware jug to carry it plus a bowl to pour it in, so the baptism went ahead and it was being read in Arabic and he would say, “Say I do or say I will!” or whatever it is. There was an Irish Colonel who was the contingent commander, he became the godfather and there was his wife was there still and she became the godmother and we're videotaping this. One of our Canadian friends had his video camera there and he was videotaping the baptism and so on and so forth. So as soon as the baptism is over, Bill opened a bottle of champagne and just was serving the champagne, the air raid siren went off. So we all, the priest got all upset because he grabbed his gas mask and put it on but we didn't, we just all rushed out the rec house out the back and it's the beach, like on Nahariya and then it goes around the bay and Haifa's on the other side. So we're all out there watching this and then we look in the sky and we can see the Scud missile coming because you can see the tracers is coming down. If you can see it, it's not going to hit you. It's when you don't see it that it could be dangerous, and so he's videotaping all of this as it's coming down and hit into Haifa and so this young Liam now has got a film of his baptism with the air raids siren sounding on it, seeing the Scud hit and his baptism so it was quite a story, it was quite an event for us.

When the Gulf War broke out, families of Canadians posted in Israel as part of the UN Truce Supervision Organization had to be evacuated, but a nine month pregnant mother just could not. This is how the baby’s adventure begins...

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.

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

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