Saanich vet honoured for actions

Retired Sgt. Tom Green injured during mishap at 1963 live firing exercise

Retired Sgt. Tom Green received the Colonel Commandant’s Commendation Tuesday for his actions following a tragic mishap during a live firing exercise in 1963. A defective fuse prematurely exploded at the muzzle of Green’s 105mm howitzer

It was almost 53 years ago, but it’s still fresh in retired Sgt. Tom Green’s mind.

The Saanich veteran was recognized Tuesday with the Colonel Commandant’s Commendation for his actions following a tragic mishap at Canadian Forces Base Shilo in Manitoba on Sept. 24, 1963.

During a live firing exercise led by Green at the Royal Canadian School of Artillery, a projectile fitted with a defective fuse prematurely exploded at the muzzle of his 105mm howitzer. One soldier, 18-year-old recruit Brian Cote, died of his wounds while several others sustained lesser injuries.

Green himself took a shell fragment to the head, but he remained calm and tended to his fellow soldiers before seeking medical attention for his head wound.

“The first thing he did was tend to Cote, and at the same time, ensure that proper first aid measures were taken with respect to the other members of the detachment who were wounded,” said Colonel Commandant Jim Selbie, a retired brigadier-general.

Green was ordered to the base hospital where he had the shrapnel removed before promptly returning to the field to continue conducting the firing exercise.

“He went straight back out to the exercise and commanded the gun again to reinstill confidence in the soldiers that day… to show we carry on and we do our duty,” said Selbie. “Tom’s actions displayed incredible presence of mind, fortitude and an incredible dedication to duty that continues to serve as an example for all of us in the Royal Regiment.”

The mishap was one of four such incidents during the summer of 1963. Green recalled that he was apprehensive about the other members getting too close to the howitzer.

“I wouldn’t let the new detachment come in,” he said. “Normally, we’d let these guys come up around the gun, but I just said that day, ‘I don’t know about this,’ so I made them stay a ways back from the gun.

“The only thing that actually saved my life was I got them to dig a recoil pit. I’d never ever done the recoil pit, and it saved my life.”

In addition to Green’s commendation, Cote’s name will be inscribed in the seventh Book of Remembrance, honouring fallen soldiers in Canada’s history. The books are kept in the Memorial Chamber at the Ottawa Peace Tower.



Just Posted

Light wind sends half of Swiftsure yacht fleet back to shore early

Many racers return overnight in unusual race conditions

Leaving dog in hot car can result in $75,000 fine, prohibition from owning animals, prison

B.C. SPCA received 800 calls last year about dogs left in hot cars

Radio Host Erin Davis pens Mourning Has Broken following death of her daughter

Book by North Saanich woman gives advice to others struggling with grief

Bed Races on Beacon champs ready to defend their title

Race takes place July 7 on Beacon Avenue, raising funds for the Peninsula Youth Clinic

Saanich preschool celebrates 30 years with reunion event

Thousands invited RSVP for Carrot Seed Preschool 30-year celebration

WATCH: Thousands enjoy sunshine at second annual Village Block Party

Cook Street filled with local food, music and more

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Most Read