Posted by Rick Frasso
John Farrow introduced today's speaker, John Price. This is not the first time we have had a speaker from The Memory Project. The goal of this ongoing project is a Historica Canada initiative to shares the stories of members of our armed forces at schools and community groups. They have reached over 3 million Canadians since 2001.
Major John Price (ret'd) is with us today. He was a public affairs officer and served in Afghanistan, Haiti, Sri Lanka, and with the Navy in the Gulf of Oman.
John began with a story of how when starting out at RMC he was told by a senior cadet that Kingston is beautiful but "you don't get to go there". He wishes he could be in the room with us, but alas can not.
After the Tsunami in 2004, DART was sent to Sri Lanka, including a friend of John's who was originally from Sri Lanka. This is a unique aspect of the Canadian Forces. The provided medical support, transportation, water purification, all in an area of conflict - carrying no weapons. The force stayed in an abandoned sugar factory, so at least the had a roof and a floor. This required some negotiation with a troop of monkeys who were living in the factory. :)
Operation Apollo took John to Afghanistan. His colleague and former roommate Ryan was assigned to raid a weapons cache. The Canadians were beat to the cache by a group of poorly equipped Afghanis. This provided a valuable lesson in working alongside the locals. Being heavily equipped doesn't guarantee success.
John was meanwhile in the Gulf of Oman, helping intercept terrorists. What they saw were boatload of migrants, who they stopped, looking for people on watch lists, although this seldom happened. This all happened in an atmosphere of respect for the people they encountered.
Operation Athena took place in 2004/2004 in Kabul. John worked with a videographer to produce films about the mission. John told us interpreters were vital to the mission, speaking to the locals to get NATO's message across. John reflected on the mission's influence on the local children, and on some of the friends he lost overseas. The costs are both seen and unseen, although the support for members of the military is better than it has ever been.
Major Price was thanked for his presentation by Greta DuBois. Greta noted the parallels between the Canadian Armed Forces and Rotary.