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Fleeting Fear

Heroes Remember

Interviewer: Can you share with me the feelings that might have been going through your head at the times that you might have been afraid? Well, you know fear was, for me, and I think most folks in that environment, was a fleeting thing. I mean we always flew generally in formations of two, to four, to eight, to sixteen, depending on the type of mission you were doing, but it was normally in multiples of air planes, and somebody was leading, and somebody was on the wing, and that, that sort of thing. You were so focussed on the mission that you had planned and briefed that when things were going as planned in brief, things seemed to happen in slow motion. A lot of times, most of the time, we were flying in very bad weather in Europe, very low cloud, low visibility, so you were always kind of groping your way here and there. When things started to go wrong or, you know, you were a little unsure of where you were or whatever, things started to happen in fast motion and if you got behind the air plane, that's when it got really uncomfortable. It was slow motion when, if everything was planned, but if, if things started to not work, then things just seemed to speed up exponentially, and occasionally somebody would get, would get in trouble, and most of the time it was, you know, facing a piece of, terra firma that you didn't expect to be there, or you got your air plane into a position where, you know, it was going to be questionable whether you were going to miss the ground or not, and I've been there a few times and the only times I've nearly killed myself, and there's, there's a few, have been my fault, hasn't been the air plane's fault. It's been the mission we flew, the, the terrain, the high speed, the low level, the bad weather. All of those kind of things conspire to say, you know, an error in judgement at those kind of speeds can be fatal fairly fairly quickly, so the fear came in, in just little bursts. You'd occasionally get yourself in a corner and say, you know, you know, you'd bury the pole and say, "Holy cow, I hope this works" and obviously it, it did work ‘cause, ‘cause I'm here, as most other folks were, so there'd be a couple of seconds of frankly just death defying panic as you reacted and then, and then it was gone, and you said "That was stupid, don't do that again" and, and you carried on.

Mr. Hawn explains how fear was a fleeting emotion during missions, describing how time would pass exponentially faster the more scared you became.

Laurie Hawn

Mr. Hawn was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1947. After finishing High School, Mr. Hawn opted to join the Air Force in order to further his education, with an ultimate goal of becoming a pilot. At the age of 18, Mr. Hawn flew for the first time, and by the age of 19 he became a flight instructor. First with T-Birds (T33's), then with Starfighters (CF104's). After instructing for 5 years in Cold Lake, Alberta, in April 1972, Mr. Hawn accepted a 3 ½ year posting with NATO in West Germany. After finishing his tour in West Germany, Mr. Hawn returned to flight instructing in Cold Lake, but was regularly posted to West Germany for a few weeks at a time. In 1988, Mr. Hawn was made Commanding Officer of 416 squadron. He held the position for 2 years, relinquishing it only weeks before the start of the first Gulf War, having only just stepped down, Mr. Hawn severely disappointed when he was not chosen to accompany the squadron when posted to Iraq. After a 30 year career, Mr. Hawn retired from the service. He now resides in Edmonton, Alberta, with his wife and family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Laurie Hawn
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Peacekeeping/Peacemaking in West Germany
Air Force

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