Language selection


Working Outside the Wire

Heroes Remember

Working Outside the Wire

Outside camp, it would be like going to a platoon house. We were up to the old platoon house in Konvakuff. We would go up there switchback roads, going back and forth, high mountain peaks so if your driver is going too far, very narrow roads, you go by old spots in the road where they have been dug out because there used to be landmines so I’m the crew commander going over high in the seat, you’re watching out for problems, for wires across the road in case someone has come back in and set the mines again. And we’re just going there ourselves. We have no protection force or nothing like that because the belief is we are not under any real threat at this time because there is peace and everything in the area. The Serbs are pulled back, there’s no fighting or anything in the area. But you can see the old bunkers on the side that’s been destroyed that people have maybe built back up again and like I say you see a little dirt patch in the road, do you drive around it, do you drive over it because there could be bombs in it. You roll into the platoon house, people are looking at you. You are trying to see what’s going on in the local town. Compare from week to week how’s things change. Is there new people that you don’t know about? Is there more cars in the area because these are things when we get back to our camp they want to know, “Did you see more people in the area. Is the area still empty? Is there homes on fire?” Because you come into town, one week to a week, maybe a house has been burnt down. This is just the locals, people coming in, the Croats in there pushing their way in to make them realize, you know, you either do as we tell you or this is what’s going to happen. So then we go in there into the hospital and we found there was like an old x-ray machine that had bullet holes in it and radiation leaking out of it. Not very good electricity so we are getting people in there trying to fix this get rid of the problem for safety. Try and help with firewood for the locals because when you go to the clinic, they see the big ambulance show up, everybody comes in, they talk to the nurse. And that was another thing, it’s a real culture shock. Usually when you show up at a clinic or anything you go in there you expect to start working, no. The place would be like fifteen or twenty people in there waiting to see you but you are not allowed to see any patients until you’ve had coffee with the nurse. She takes you in and she makes you a local Bosnian coffee and you got to sit with her and have a cookie and stuff like that. We keep telling her, “No, no , we got our own coffee.” We didn’t want to be rude or nothing but you have to drink this stuff and be polite and everything because they don’t have a lot of rations as it is so we didn’t want to eat up their stuff. But still you had coffee with her every week and the niceties. Then you go in the room because she spoke pretty good English, not the best, we always had a translator with us. We set up in the room and she would tell the patients to come in and she would stay with them, that way we always had a female with us and everything and we would treat patients and do what we could for them. Most of the time we had our P.A.’s, our physician’s assistant, would come with us so if it was somebody needed prescription medication, we had a couple panyards, boxes full of prescription medication that he could prescribe. Sometimes we were off to the side in another room cleaning and dressing a wound, someone got an infected arm, something like that, just doing things like that. Then before you leave you always did a little lap around the town to see if anything has changed. A couple of times we would go up to the local school and try to meet with the principal there to see what their needs are because a couple of times while we were there over the six months we went up to the local elementary school I guess it was, and we had pencils, paper and colouring books and stuff sent over from Canada and toys and we went up. and delivered them up there to the kids and everything. Give them something; they didn’t have very much, they had a chalk board and the desktops were empty. So we were always trying to deliver things like that that people sent for us to deliver. Then on your way back, you’re going back to camp, it’s the same thing again, you got to be back before night fall. A lot of switchbacks again. It’s nothing like driving in Canada, very high mountain passes, you got fifteen tonnes or whatever that ambulance was, solid steel coming down the hill and if the air brakes gave out, you're going over because very steep gorges and switchbacks into the town and then you roll back into the camp. That would be a normal day outside the wire.

Travelling by ambulance in the rough terrain, Mr. Williams speaks about the constant shelling they faced.

Andy Williams

Mr. Williams was born June 24, 1964 in Trenton, Ontario. His father being in the Air Force, Mr. Williams had the strong desire to join, however, when his time came, the decision for service would be army and began his training career as an army medic. In 1985 he joined as a reservist and spent 25 years with the Regular Force. In 1997, Mr. Williams was deployed to Bosnia with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse Royal Canadians holding rank of master corporal. Another opportunity for a posting was exercised in 1998 when he deployed to Kosovo, this time with the 1 Service Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment. Mr. William’s army career as a medic took him to many In-Canada posting serving with the Canadian military and upon retirement resides in Berwick, Nova Scotia with his wife and family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
March 19, 2014
Person Interviewed:
Andy Williams
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Lord Strathcona’s Horse

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: