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First Troops on the Ground

Heroes Remember

First Troops on the Ground

We got the call in October and the first week in December we were deployed. It happened so fast and so quickly. So we get there and the heat is the first thing that hits you when you get off the plane. The heat hits us and then, you know, we were the first soldiers in the country and that’s in Ethiopia, Eritrea, that’s where we went. So we had nowhere to stay pretty much. We had nothing. So we just occupied an abandoned building and we set up some cots and then we went and we worked. We built a two hundred man camp for the following forces that were coming in. So we built all the accommodations. We had everything ready to go so that when the main peacekeeping force landed they were set up and good to go. Then we transferred over to our mission which was peacekeeping and ordinance disposal. So we wake up and we had our morning routine. So we do our morning PT as per usual and then we go and we do some cleaning where we were staying and then our orders would come in. We had platoon houses in our area of operation and we had a section of engineers in each platoon house so we would rotate through a platoon house. So if it was your day to go you’d get your gear packed and you would leave the main camp and you would head out to the platoon house three or four weeks at a time. We would do a lot of patrols. So we would do a patrol in the morning and a patrol in the evening. That was one thing we did. Another thing we did a lot of CIMIC projects so we helped build a school. We helped repair a school, repairing villages, helping get things to the people that were in severe need. So we do that all through the day and then in the evening we would wind down and we would go and we had a huge mess tent set up and we were allowed two beer per soldier at the time so it was a good chance to wind down. There was a cease fire so we had two hundred and fifty Canadian peacekeepers in the middle of over one hundred thousand Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers so we were right in the middle. If you weren’t on gate duty that night or sentry duty then you had the evening off and you could go to your rack and sleep or watch hockey or you could just do Canadian things. You know we really didn’t have a lot because it happened so fast so our days were long and for the most part uneventful. We were concerned about landmines and ordinance and safety so we had to ask the locals where did you see these things and can you show us. We had an interpreter with us all the time so we were out engaging with the local people and let them know that we are not there to harm them, we are there to help so being a peacekeeper you had the white vehicles, the blue helmets, the blue beret, you know, all that stuff that signified that you are peacekeeping. The children were wonderful. They were so happy. They were just happy to see us. They knew we were there to help, especially the elders but they were standoffish too because they were in that conflict and they went through a lot of trauma. So it took a while for us to gain their respect.

Combat Engineer MacEachern tells of his experiences when landing in Ethiopia and the cultural shock of living and working conditions.

Brian MacEachern

Mr. Brian MacEachern was born August 2, 1975 in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. With his father being a reserve soldier for over 30 years, Mr. MacEachern knew his own destiny at a very young age. Joining the reserves with the Combat Engineers division, he later specialized in combat diving and ordinance disposal. Throughout his military career Mr. MacEachern was part of the Swiss Air recovery mission and credits this exercise as being his reasons for continuing to serve in the Canadian military. In 2004 Mr. MacEachern accepted a deployment to Ethiopia and later that year travelled to Afghanistan and again in 2007 holding rank of sergeant with Combat Engineers. After being released from the military, Mr. MacEachern accepted support through Soldier On and in 2016 became a member of Team Canada Invictus Games travelling to Orlando, Florida as part of the cycling team. Mr. MacEachern continues to stay involved in the sport and now resides in Nova Scotia with his family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
July 25, 2018
Person Interviewed:
Brian MacEachern
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Combat Engineer

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