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The Lady who Kissed my Boot

Heroes Remember

The Lady who Kissed my Boot

I was very young when I went to Cyprus, 19 years old and so I was very impressionable and first time out of the backwoods of Prince Edward Island. I went over there and seen this culture, two cultures actually, two warring cultures, two different ends of a spectrum, okay. You had your very radical group at one extreme, at one side and same on the other and we had a lot of people that were kind of in the middle. So you couldn’t judge them all the same. We had a massacre while I was there where the Turks got after the Greeks. And they shelled a village and we were called out with some infantry. So we went down there, it was the middle of the night and I recall seeing the red tracer bullets go over and you could hear the heavy stuff going in. It was kind of thud, thud, thud, you know, they were hitting the buildings and stuff. And we were in our armored car, little Ferret and so we pulled into the village when it got light enough to see. And as soon as we got there, we got out. No we pulled into, next to a wall and the mortar rounds were coming down and the sergeant that I was driving for he said, “Well, get away from the wall because the mortar is going to hit the wall and the wall is going to fall on top of us and we’re going to be trapped.” So we had to move out of there and as we were doing so there was a body or a part of a body and I couldn’t maneuver out of there without running over the body. So we had to run over a human being with our car to get out of there. So that kind of stuck with me over the years. And after it was all over, the people started coming out of the ruins, you know, when it was declared cease fire and this old, old woman, they all dressed in black over there. She came, me and my sergeant were standing in front of the car there and she came over and she got on her knees and kissed my boots... she was so grateful to be alive. So that was moving, very moving to me at the time as a 19 year old. Of course, she was very old then, she looked like she was 90 years old, never knew her, she couldn’t speak English or nothing, you know, she was a Greek. But did we make a difference? Yep, you know, a lot of people say the Army is a waste of money but to that old lady, we made a difference

After experiencing a traumatic incident, Mr. VanIderstine shares an inspirational story of how an old lady showed her appreciation for the soldier’s protection.

Peter VanIderstine

Mr. VanIderstine was born March 3, 1948 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Growing up in a small community of Belfast, Mr. VanIderstine attended a one room school house and later graduated from high school. After moving off the Island with his mother, Mr. VanIderstine joined the Army in 1968. He went to Petawawa, Ontario for basic training and soon accepted his first posting in Fort Gary Horse, Calgary, Alberta as a Tank Gunner. Holding occupation of Armored Car Driver, Mr. VanIderstine accepted an opportunity to join a Wheeled Reconnaissance Squadron heading to Cyprus that same year. From 1969 to 1972 Mr. VanIderstine was posted to Germany. He then joined the Paratroop Airborne Regiment and spent 2 years in the High Arctic. In 1976 Mr. VanIderstine traveled to Egypt, this time holding rank of Sergeant as a Tank Commander. After retiring from military, Mr. VanIderstine returned home to his province of Prince Edward Island to marry and raise a family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
March 20, 2005
Person Interviewed:
Peter VanIderstine
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Tank Driver

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