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Most Vivid Memory in the Balkans

Heroes Remember

Most Vivid Memory in the Balkans

Interviewer: What is your most vivid memory of your service there? In the Balkans? That's a very interesting question, a couple things come to mind. I remember going on a hydrofoil believe it or not, from an area called Split, on the Dalmatian coast, with our Head of Mission and a number of other people, with a Croatian flag and a ECMM flag, European Community Monitoring Mission flag, with the clearance to go into Dubrovnik, which was being held by the Croats, but south of that, the Yugoslav Army headquarters and we had permission to go down there, and they wouldn't fire on us. That was interesting, first of all it was fascinating flying, literally flying, in a very fast moving hydrofoil, commercial, but went down there and sure enough we got in, it was not a problem and that stuck in my mind, doesn't sound like much but it was. The other was the helicopter that had been blown out of the sky by a Serbian Mig 21, fired three missiles, two, sorry, one hit the exhaust pipe of the Huey helicopter as it's called and it desintegrated. There was another helicopter there at about 1000 feet, it was what they called a Kiowa, a scout helicopter, as soon as he saw that, he put it on the ground, I mean in a hurry, it was still there. Well the Head of Mission said to the lawyer that was on site, the Dutch lieutenant colonel, he said, " I want the two of you and a Spanish pilot and Ethell I want you to head up the investigation", for the board of inquiry. So we obviously had to go out to the site where the individuals had, first of all the pilot and the co- pilot were decapitated, the rest of their bodies were in what was left of the air craft and the passengers were blown out like a, a blossom really, one over there, one over there, one over there, one over there. That kind of sticks with you and I really needed that like a hole in the head towards the end of my career. I had a number of months to stay there and get over it. We had to go and talk to the Serbian authorities in Belgrade and down in the Behash(sp) where the aircraft came out of, and the explanations that they came up with, " We thought it was a Croatian aircraft painted white with ECMM on the side, but that was their explanation, I think there was another one, but we won't get into that.

Colonel Ethell describes his most vivid memories of being in the Balkans.

Donald Stewart Ethell

Donald Stewart Ethell was born in July 1937 and was raised in Victoria, BC. His father was a Veteran of both the First and Second World Wars. His mother was a nurse. He and his sister attended boarding school because of his parents' jobs and he was only home at Christmas and during the summer. His mother passed away when Mr. Ethell was 10 years old.

When he enlisted, Mr. Ethell joined the Queen's Own Rifles in Calgary. After several years of serving as an infantryman he was recommended for the officer training. Mr. Ethell graduated from the program and rose to the rank of Colonel. He went on to command Canadian, and United Nations, forces in various missions all over the world. In the mid 1990s, Col. Ethell retired with over thirty-five years of distinguished service.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Donald Stewart Ethell
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Queen's Own Rifles of Canada

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