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Guarding the PTT Building

Heroes Remember - Canadian Armed forces

Guarding the PTT Building

I had a chance to work in the building, the PTT building and I used to sit up in this window, again it was a six by six window, and I used to watch kids play across the street. It was just basically to hear the laughter. It was kinda of one of those things you do. Well, one day, a group of about seven of them come over. They spotted me in the window and, of course, they came right over. Talked to them for a little bit and I threw down a can of Coke. It was a warm can. I wasn’t going to drink it. This little girl, held it up like a prize, like a trophy. She probably hadn’t had a Coke for three years. They were all taking turns sipping this Coke. Just thought they had the world by the ass. And, one of the young lads came over and, I was a smoker at the time, and asked for a cigarette. So I threw him down one. I got up on my haunches and threw down one. And he wanted another one, he said. I said, “You’re too young to be smoking.”, he said, “For my parents.” I said, “Okay”. So I just got ready to throw another one down. The kids are all down below me and all of a sudden I heard a shriek, an explosion. I was blown out of the window by the force, of the concussion. Where I was standing, we were probably one of the only rooms that had windows left. Where I was standing about this far away, there was a great big hole through the window from shrapnel that I still have. I went to the window to scream, the little girl had the Coke and the boy that I was giving the smokes to... they were both laying there dead. I hollered and screamed, “Get the hell out, get out of here, go, run, run, run, run!” They were just, they were motionless. They had left them there and everybody else took off. They shelled us three or four more times and I ran downstairs. There was nothing we could do for these people, these kids. Everything else is kind of a blur. We all went downstairs. They were shelling our building and we brought their bodies in and put them in a body bag. For years and years and years, I’ve always felt responsible for those kids. I know I’m not, but it’s still inside me. If I didn’t give them that Coke or I didn’t give him the smokes, they wouldn’t have been there. They wouldn’t have been there. When I came back up stairs after the shelling had stopped and I went and collected all the shrapnel from that explosion. There was some embedded in the wall and in the carpet and I still have it. I still have it. What’s really, really weird is all these years, it’s just little chunks of metal, but I still have it. Most people never know, I don’t tell everybody that it happened or what happened so... it’s never easy to open up about it, you know. I’m a big tough guy. I’m 6' 1. To sit here and cry about this...Why?...cause it hurts

Mr. Ott shares a heart-wrenching experience he had while on guard duty and how the guilt and responsibility remains with him today.

David Ott

Mr. David Ott was born January 26, 1968 in Amherst, Nova Scotia. Fresh out of high school, Mr. Ott made his decision to join the military and entered battle school. The military way of life held a fascination for him and after being in army cadets for 6-7 years prior, it was an easy decision to choose army as his branch of service for active duty service. He joined The Royal Canadian Regiment and held rank of Corporal. Mr. Ott took his basic training in Petawawa, Ontario and after six months there, travelled to Germany for additional preparation. In 1992, Mr. Ott was part of the contingent of soldiers to arrive in the besieged city of Sarajevo for the purpose providing humanitarian aid and medical supplies, as well as reopening of the airport and for this received an honour, Commander-in-Chief Unit commendation. Mr. Ott made the decision to leave the military shortly after this tour.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
David Ott
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Royal Canadian Regiment

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