OUR U.N. STORIES

Lieutenant-General RR Crabbe, CCM, MSC, MSM, CD

BIOGRAPHY

I was born in Neepawa MB and joined the Canadian Army in Sep 1963. On graduation from the University of Manitoba, I served in a variety of command and staff appointments including tours of duty with the United Nations in Cyprus and the Balkans, and NATO in Germany.

My command appointments include CO 1st Battalion Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in Calgary AB, Commander Special Service Force in Petawawa ON, Deputy Force Commander of the United Nations Protection Force and Commander of the Canadian Contingent in the Balkans, Commander Land Force Atlantic Area in Halifax, NS and Commander 1 Canadian Division in Kingston ON.

My senior staff appointments included Regimental Major Canadian Airborne Regiment, COS Army Staff College, COS Prairie Militia Area, and Director-General Personnel Careers Other Ranks at National Defence Headquarters. He was fortunate to be selected as part of the military team to visit the USSR as part of the detente at the end of the Cold War.

In September 1997, I was appointed Deputy Chief of Defence Staff at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa, where I was responsible for Canadian Forces operations and intelligence worldwide.

I am a graduate of the Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College, Kingston ON, the Canadian Forces Staff College, Toronto ON, and the United States Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk VA.

PEACEKEEPING

My first exposure to the United Nations was in Cyprus as a wet-behind-the-ears Platoon Commander with 2 QOR 0f C in April-October 1967. It was a great experience to be able to deploy on an operation and the opportunity to learn a great deal about soldiers and soldiering, and to have an initial exposure to the United Nations. I was fortunate enough to be very much involved with the two "warring factions" on a day to day basis and learn lots of lessons about peacekeeping.

Throughout my career I was responsible for training individuals and groups deploying on many UN peacekeeping missions. This was an exciting part of serving with the Canadian Armed Forces, and gave me many other opportunities to make a small contribution to peacekeeping without actually deploying. And of course, it was the training and the standards of preparation that separated Canadian military members from all others.

My second on-the-ground experience was in the Balkans May 1994-June 1995, as the Deputy Force Commander and Commander of the Canadian Contingent - a force of about 2,600. Even though I was stationed in Zagreb, I spent a great deal of time in the Sectors negotiating ceasefires and trying to hold the factions to account for their actions. My focus was on maintaining the peace in Croatia and the forces deployed in the Former Republic of Macedonia which mean lots of contact with soldiers from about 24 countries. There were plenty of exciting (and dangerous!) situations in trying to keep the peace and prevent the terrible death and destruction being inflicted on all factions, but largely civilians. One of the highlights was being appointed as the military advisor to the senior political group to re-negotiate the UN mandate for all of the Balkans. I was able to meet all the senior political and military leaders in the Balkans, and be involved in the negotiations - oftentimes under very challenging conditions.

The one element of peacekeeping that stood out at the time (and still does) was the professionalism and sheer capabilities of Canadian soldiers engaged in the full range of peacekeeping. Having had the opportunity to work with over 30 nations at various times, it was always evident that Canadians stood well above others in the full gamut of peacekeeping through to peace enforcement.

LYNDA BARTEL

BIOGRAPHY

I am originally from Neepawa, Manitoba. My father worked for Canadian National Railway, and as a result, we lived in several small towns in southern Manitoba as I was growing up. I currently reside in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

I moved to Ottawa, Ontario in 1977 and from there, at the age of 24, as a single parent, I joined the Military. My trade was Mobile Support Equipment Operator. I served proudly from 1977 to 2011.

My first posting was to Winnipeg, Manitoba. As a Mobile Support Equipment Operator I operated staff cars, buses, tractor trailers, heavy equipment such as snow plows and snow blowers and aircraft refueling equipment.

I was posted to Ottawa, Ontario in 1986. In Ottawa I worked as a driver in General Purpose Vehicles and Heavy Cargo and as a dispatcher. I also worked as an assistant to the Career Managers at National Defence Headquarters. In August of 1988 I was on a Continuous French Course for a year. I was promoted to the rank of Master Corporal in early 1991 It was in Ottawa where I was selected for a Peacekeeping Mission in the Golan Heights, Israel with the United Nations Disengagement Observation Force.

In 1991 I was posted to CFB Winnipeg, Manitoba. I retired from the Regular Force in 1996. From there I joined the Reserves. In 2008 I was promoted to Sergeant. I was employed at 1 Canadian Air Division as Assistant to the Air Force Fleet manager. I retired at the age of 60 in 2011.

PEACEKEEPING

United Nations Disengagement Observation Force
Golan Heights, Israel
05 June 1990 to 03 December 1990

I was deployed to the Golan Heights from June to December of 1990. We were only the second draft to include females.

Golan Heights is at the Area of Separation between Israel and Syria. Although they are only a few miles apart, culturally they are years apart. As women we had a very strict code of dress when we crossed the Area of Separation into Syria. Our uniform came with shorts as we were in the Middle East but when going to Syria we were not allowed to wear shorts, we had to wear the long pants.

When at the Market Place in Syria we would be accompanied by men and most speaking would be done by the men. There were some scary moments when you could see some of the men looking at you with what felt like hatred. One great exception was a gentleman was walking with a young girl who appeared to be around seven. He was pushing her towards me, encouraging her to talk to me. I went to her and gave her a Canada pin.

Once I was tasked to take 4 trucks close to the Area of Separation as there was a piece of heavy equipment digging a ditch there. The Observers had been told it was an irrigation ditch but the dimensions suggested an anti tank ditch. This was in contravention of the 1974 agreement to not make a certain area on either side of the Area of Separation any more Military ready. We went out and surrounded the piece of heavy equipment so he couldn't continue to dig. At this point there were Syrian and UN soldiers in attendance. As I got out of the truck and reached back for my flack jacket and then my weapon the Syrian soldier remarked "holy (expletive) women and weapons." For the duration of the time there I had to call on a male Private to pass on everything I said even though the Syrian soldier was standing right in front of me.

There also were a few instances of this on the Israeli side but for the most part we were treated with respect. I did get asked why my husband would allow me to come here. Once I had a man ask me if he could back up my truck as he didn't think a woman could back up a big truck.

One of my fondest memories was when I was in Haifa. I was stopped in a residential area and I saw, coming towards me, three young boys. One was riding a bike, one a horse and one a donkey. That pretty much summed up life in Israel for me.