From Scotty Fuller
I “left” the PERI 851 trade from CFS Inuvik on appointment to Officer Cadet on 01 June 1971, selected for commissioning from the ranks through University Training Plan. I joined (MEDEVAC’d a month before me), my VERY pregnant wife Sandra at the Alliston, Stevenson Memorial Hospital and using all the PERI-power-of-persuasion I could muster, talked my way into her caesarean-delivery operating room, (the operating- room nurse having been a former scuba student).
This first-hand, in-your-face surgical-experience in “anatomy and physiology” was not really what I had in mind when I asked “to-be-there-when my wife gave birth” but it proved to be the most rewarding experience of my life, seeing my son physically come into the world…..no class at CFSPER was like this one…..!
My first meeting on arrival at the University of Ottawa was with none other than former PERO (retired) Major Al Wagstaff, then the chief administrative officer of the Faculty of Physical Education and Kinanthropology.
My first meeting with my assigned University professor (Dr. Stewart Davidson) was a real treat, he revealing that he has been an RCAF WWII pilot who had “many, many hours in the gym and on the badminton, squash and tennis courts” of his air bases, and whose love of all things phys ed propelled him into his own phys ed academic career, eventually rising to be elected Dean of the Faculty of Physical Education. His critical review of my PERI courses was also a benefit to me as I obtained full or partial academic credit for most of them and “consideration” for others in guiding my studies. The four-year Honours Phys Ed program was, for me, cut to three years as my other community-college and university-level credits were also factored in. I was honoured three years later by the award of the Dr. Steward Davidson Masters Degree Scholarship, just one year later, he passed on.
One late afternoon, while walking down a CFSPER HQ hallway (the old “H” building across from the Buell Gym) taking a draft Borden Citizen CFSPER article into CWO “Buz” Varner’s office, when suddenly, out of no-where the sound of a small “yappy” dog erupted, followed with a high-pitched “meowing” and a flurry of feline and canine feet fleeing down the hall behind me, the “yappy dog” scampering in hot-pursuit of the fearful, fleeing feline….the “yappy dog” scrambling like a bat-out-of-hell to catch-that-cat in a do-or-die-dash……..the fleeing feline (feet don’t fail me now) equally keen on staying well ahead of the pursuing-pup……the sounds died as quickly as they had erupted and I nearly had whiplash looking behind me to try to see the chase in progress.
Silently, out of a side-hallway, his petty-officer hat in one hand and his bald head and smiling face sporting a very wide GRIN, stepped “Eggie” Eggleton, with a cat-who-swallowed-the-canary look about him…..he also whip lashed his head to one side as if looking for the fleeing two-some….he glanced at me and as quick as the first time I had heard it, repeated the same sounds of that “yappy dog” in hot-pursuit of a fleeing-feline…...IT WAS HIM….!
We were joined at that very moment by “BUZ” who, looking at us both, rolled his eyes and instantly recognized that Eggie had, once again, tricked someone else into believing his “dog and cat” act……and shook his head at Eggie's antics…….it seems that Eggie's ventriloquist acts were a well-known antic to his navy peers.
It was just prior to Xmas at the end of the gym-team training for the ’67 TATTOO. The new year would take us all to the “costume/make-up/dress rehearsal stage, but most were just as anxious to get our butts home for Xmas…..he came out of the “staff offices” clad in our white-T-shirt-and-CF-green sweat-suit working-dress-pants….a pair of well-worn gymnastic slippers on his feet…..…….first he peeked around the corner with widening bug- eyes and a BIG grin and then stepped out onto the gym floor in one big giant stride……as he did so, he started “playing” his “incredible-invisible-slide-trombone”…… complete with it’s fully sync’d “audio” musical accompaniment.……..there came none-other but Chuck Johnson marching proudly out…. stepping-smartly as if on a stadium-grandstand performance parade……he had everyone totally captivated by his antics, his cheeks puffing, his eyes bulging, his legs marching smartly along, AND his “incredible-invisible-slide-trombone” antics a source of great visual and audio amusement…….all were stunned by his “mime” marching-band routine and if you had closed your eyes, just the “incredible-invisible slide-trombone music” was enough to convince you that Chuck was actually leading Alexander’s’ Ragtime 100-man marching band…..other gym team members, (like Paul Arsenault) too then quickly stepped into line behind Chuck, each “playing” their own individual “incredible-invisible” band-instrument from yakkety-saxaphone to fake-drums…..and even Jack McBride’s little Papillion-dog pranced along following them….tail-a-wagging and ears a-wiggling as he brought up the rear……soon Chuck had his own private “incredible-invisible-marching-band” in full parade order……they marched, they strutted, they played………we, the witnesses to this event, could hardly contain ourselves……their “antics” and “frantics” were just amazing…..but as quickly as the Chuck Johnson Magic-Music-Marching Band had first mysteriously “appeared” it dissolved down the hallway back into wherever it had come from with only the humour of it all remaining……our laughter still echoing in the gym…...it had cracked our faces and re-tuned our funny bones in one burst of home-spun humour…..! A broadly-grinning Sergeant Cookie Collicott and Corporal Paddy O’Connor brought us back to the reality of our daily physical training as they formed us up “for a run”……our group quickly followed by Chuck from the rear, now sporting his family-famous multi-coloured wool-touque and matching-mittens-with-strings!…..his stop-a-clock grin and eyes still as wide as they had been during his magic-music-moments before…….and I can still see him trotting along after us….Chuck? are you still there?
It was on the TATTOO “Blue Train” that a gym-team member discovered that CN Rail had galvanized water-coolers at the corners of each rail-car corridor passageway. The water inside the coolers kept cool by periodically adding chunks of ice at each stop along the railway route. Quick to see the merits in these coolers on the Gym Team rail-car….the member quietly and quickly “deposited” the contents of a large bottle of cheap red wine into the convenient corner-cooler, ……for future consumption of course…”when it aged beyond today’s vintage date”……(it is rumoured that the “wine-steward” was Bill Fielding, but denied his involvement many times, with a grin.)
The following day, along came the TATTOO RSM, Canadian Guards WO1 R. Levesque and his Guards SGT-MAJOR Semple on their daily-weekly rail-car “inspection” tour. They stopped beside the corner-cooler and each extracted a paper cup, filling it with the cooler-contents, which poured a RED liquid into their two cups……one said that “it looks like rusty water?”, and the other agreed, both then pouring the RED liquid into the corner-coolers drain….taking down a note and continuing on their inspection rounds.
Gym Team staffer, Bernie “The Fist” McGuigan witnessed this and promptly reported it to Cookie Collicott. Cookie decided that since the two would “be back” very shortly with the CN Rail Conductor, that the corner-cooler-contents should be quickly and completely “removed” before their return and the corner-cooler contents re-filled with just the normal cold-water an’ ice……or the Gym Team would suffer the consequences…..the wine removal was very quickly performed with several thirsty and obliging gym team volunteers “contributing” to void the corner-cooler of the RED liquid….it was then washed out and refilled quickly with “just the normal” cold-water an’ ice obtained from another rail car…..The inspection party returned on their follow-up inspection tour this time WITH the CN Rail Conductor and immediately poured a sample of the contents of the corner-cooler……..which, when eyeballed, proved not to be RUSTY water, but clear cold ice-water…..the CN Rail Conductor shrugged, as this proved his point that the corner-cooler could only have had water an’ ice in it and there had been NO rusty water…..all departed with the CWO and his SGT-MAJOR still shaking their heads……
The jig being “up”, the corner-cooler was promptly refilled with WHITE wine in lieu of RED and the rest of the TATTOO no-brain-train-trip, as they say, is now history!!
“When down on yer luck and just need a buck, just see Chuck”……a Blue-Crew TATTOO Gym Team motto…..with the per diem TATTOO “allowance” being only a dollar-a-day, and the other pay and allowances of the team members being well below the poverty line and that pay-days were few and far between…….each TATTOO train-tour show-stop providing “female-fans” (some would say Camp Followers?)…..it was decided by “Cookie and Company” that the gym team needed a better source of family-funding. The decision made was to employ the services of “Harry, Frank and Charlie” better known as Household Finance Corporation…..……..a loan would be taken out by Chuck and made-available for a “gym-team” rate of interest, the interest paid as soon as the member stepped off the TATTOO pay-parade………the interest paid not only covered the interest charged as well as the principle amount, but the “extra-interest” that accrued, would end up paying for a number of Blue-Crew gym team social events, usually hosted in the local Rec Centre in the location of the trains travelling whistle-stop road-show….….other amenities were thus acquired, and sold at less than bar rates, their profits too ending up as gym team revenues……so, when you’re down on yer luck and need a buck, just go see Chuck...! (his “collector-of-customs-and-excise” was none other than Bernie “the Fist” McGuigan….)
There I was, walking through the sacred-Pegasus-halls of the Canadian Airborne Centre’s Parachute Training Wing when I heard a muffled, hoarse-voice “whisper” my name….. “Scotty”…..”Scotty”……I looked down and there he was…my former PERI SGT supervisor at CFSPER Borden….at that time…….the CFSPER SCHOOL CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER…… BART FEURWENTGES sweating like he did on his Group Two, Three and Four ARMY PT Staff courses, busy “pushing down the floor” with his hands……..on his “fifth” (?) set of push-ups…..?
Seems Bart was on the GERITOL jump-course to win-his-wings and I, then the Production Officer, Canadian Forces Parachute Maintenance Depot (CFPMD), was at CABC-PTW to ensure that the jump course parachute equipment requirements were met…..BUT it seems also that Bart had been spotted by one of his eagle-eyed Infantry Sgt Parachute Instructors and seen…….“speaking” when not spoken to….was “awarded “four more sets of ten” push ups just for talking to me! Bart continued pushing down the floor with a big grin, a pool of PERI sweat dripping from the end of his nose…… “See you on your “J” stage,” I whispered back to Bart, and departed with a big grin on MY face.
It was at NDHQ (aka Fort Fumble, Puzzle Palace, Disneyland-on-the-Rideau) later in my LOG career, that we were all ordered out of our cozy downtown offices to take the annual dreaded XPRES test….so off we went and gaggled in our PT gear and lined up at the NDHQ PERI-Palace to “face the music”…..I, being the only officer in my group, made my way to their office half-door and presented myself, smartly-clad in my former PERI white-T-shirt, it’s RED Maple Leaf PERI badge as new as issued in my PERI days gone by.……..PERI WO Bob Owen suddenly popped up, grinned and said….HI Scotty….how-ya-doing-old-buddy?……..then took, signed, stamped my XPRES card, winked and said NEXT !!!…..the fastest PT test I ever did in all my 32 years Reg Force and 8 years Res Force career……I never even cracked a sweat……..! Thanks Bob….! I then spent that “sports afternoon” falling out of airplanes at our (Navan Airport) parachute centre……!
It was on my last day of my Regular Force service in the HMCS ByTown Officers Mess where I was being roasted-for-lunch by a gaggle of friends when one of them, a naval four-ringer Captain (my bosses boss) grinned and handed me a copy of my EXPRES Test results grading me as DID NOT ATTEND TESTING and in the same stroke of the pen, signed me off as PHYSICALLY FIT FOR INTERNATIONAL DEPLOYMENT. The Monday following this Reg Force fare-thee-well had me reporting to my new career in the Res Force as in an INFANTRY Officer position, as G3 Ops and Plans, 33 Canadian Brigade Group HQ Ottawa where my first duty was (1) to ensure that all HQ staff had taken and passed their EXPRES Test….and (2) to staff the Brigade’s International Standby List for NATO duty….go figure…..
It was at the Navan airport outside Ottawa when I was the Course Director for the First Canadian Astronaut Parachute Course that I first met all the Astronauts together.
The National Research Council - Space Team Canada had contracted our Forces Ottawa Sport Parachute Club to conduct a special progressive-freefall-course to qualify the Canadian Astronauts to NASA parachute freefall standards.
As I was club president, it fell to me to be the course director, to assign the instructor, to find a pilot, to coordinate the club ground-to-air radio system, to provide the parachutes, mains and reserves, to appoint a rigger for teaching the astronauts their parachute re-packing, to install the parachute automatic opening devices to proper AGL settings, to liaise with MOT Air Traffic Control for jump run coordination to control the Drop Zone and to provide for an emergency DZ medic.
It was agreed in our contract with Space Team Canada that they would coord the media and public relations and that no prior media notice would be made to ensure that the Astronaut parachute training proceeded without unnecessary delays or interference. It was agreed that only I could take club photos and only to use them for club record purposes.
The Astronaut parachute trainees were introduced one-by-one by none other than Marc Garneau, then an NDHQ Navy Commander. I had just taken off my parachute windbreaker and under it, was wearing my former PERI white “T” shirt complete with PERI badge…..when Marc noticed it and said that among his BEST, most treasured and favourite memories were his days at College Militaire Royale and Royal Military College among…..the PERI Staff…..Two hours later, the Astronauts-in-training, Marc Garneau, Bob Thirsk, Ken Money, Steven MacLean and Bjarni Tryggvason (Roberta Bondar absent) literally took their “first steps into space” on the first jump of their ten-jump progressive-freefall-course.
The rest, they say is now history. For them and for me……..!
I first met Kevin Gammon at the Ontario Sport Parachute Championships in Grand Bend and found out that he was a senior army PTI. He boarded a jump-lift and was in the sky and back on the ground repacking his main canopy before my lift got off the ground! By the time we were boarded to take off, he was at the door of the aircraft inquiring if there was "room for him" on that lift.......as one of the girls aboard was feeling somewhat airsick from her earlier flight, she gladly (and thankfully)gave up her seat for KEVIN.....his smile was infectious as the aircraft lifted off.......after landing, we proceeded back to the lift-pick up point, dropped our now deployed canopies, preparing to repack them.
I was just folding the first gores of mine when KEVIN reached over and started to assist, without me even asking him. He took me through the repack quickly and quietly and before I knew it, we were both first in line for the next lift. The day ended after three more jumps and as the sun went down, it was KEVIN who still in the sky....! His jump-enthusiasm was infectious and through his steady guidance in repacking, I soon became proficient....to follow exact and sequential pack up taking time and care with each step....... I later me him at CFSPER, bumping (literally) into him in the narrow hallways.....as soon as he saw me, he asked if I had had much sky-time and this and every future conversation with KEVIN was about parachuting.... Later in my CF LOGISTICS career, while the Production Officer of the CF Parachute Maintenance Depot, I saw KEVINS face on the CF Parachute Demonstration Team THE SKYHAWKS photo gallery at the Canadian Airborne Centre wall-of-fame.
Some years later, at NDHQ, I was appointed by the DCDS to be the CF Liaison Officer to the Canadian Sport Parachute Association (CSPA) and went to their River Road offices to meet with their Technical Director, Ron Pinder. On arrival he told me that KEVIN GAMMON had just been killed in a sport parachute accident in BC and asked me if I would assist the CSPA Technical and Safety Committee in their investigation with the BC Sport Parachute Association (BCSPA) and the Coroner of BC.
Having known KEVIN personally it was a very sad duty, not only to do so, but also to be involved in writing up the final report. He will be remembered by all, but also by me personally as his signature still appears in my sport parachute log book for those early Grand Bend jumps.
I first met Flight Sergeant GUY PANNELL in his office in the Rec Centre at RCAF Station Comox on my arrival on my first R&PE SPEC posting in December, 1964. He was balding, had a wide, thick moustache and a big grin and his first question after shaking my hand and welcoming me to the staff was if I "could swing a hammer or not?" This question threw me off-balance but I quickly replied that my DAD was a former RCAF Flight Sergeant, and had taught me how to drive and remove nails...! FS Pannells eyes widened as he asked if I was GORD FULLERS kid?......which I was. Turns out he, FS Jack VARALEAU and FS Jack Curtis had all known each other in their early RCAF careers ...small world? (my Dad played a LOT of hockey in his RCAF career) So off I went hammer-swinging, a skill not taught on a group one R&PE SPEC course, but nevertheless one of considerable merit in the Phys Ed trade....I was assigned to assist him completing the interior fitment of the new GLACIER GARDENS Arena, as he was its new manager! I worked beside and alongside GUY PANNELL every working day and weekends too, for a whole month until the team change-rooms, announcers, officials booth and snack bar outlet were had been built and a new SCHOMBERG ice-making machine access-door was installed along one wall....each day he taught me, by example, by tutorial, the rudiments of carpentry work and tool safety, usually speaking to me through a mouthful of nails cleverly balanced on his lips, using his moustache for their support!
I thank him for his mentoring and my apprenticeship and for his many witty comments which made the hours pass and the job more enjoyable.
I first met "Coonie" when I was a PMQ brat at Air Div in Metz France. Our General Navereau High School was on the base (behind the Chateau de Mercy, the Air Div HQ) did not have a gym, so our school Phys Ed program was conducted in the RCAF gym....and we teenagers got to know all the R&PE SPEC staff...Coonie Lefevre, Flight Sergeant Jack Varaleau et al......we kids "hung out" there after school, awaiting our bus ride home (PMQs were inside FORT BELLECROIX in Metz) .....Coonie always found a job for us, cleaning the bowling alley, pin-picking, brushing off the outdoor tennis courts, retrieving arrows on the archery range, ushering in the movie theatre, shagging golf balls on the driving range and even issuing small arms and shotgun ammo on the small arms and skeet shooting range ....Coonie also was the chief referee for our inter-wing teen hockey-league (his son was a leading scorer) and he even talent-scouted two teens for western canada junior leagues.......he was a go-to guy when we needed him and he was well-known to subsidize our snack bar budgets with his own cash ....he even gave badminton coaching tips to my mother who was the reining Air Div womans singles champ for four straight years......and I am told by my dad that Coonie also was a guest-caller at the SQUARE-DIV western square dancing club .......he and all his R&PE SPEC staff became our mentors and without question their guidance in our tender teen lives was a positive one.
I first met Jack Murdoch when posted from 447 SAM Squadron Lamacaza, Quebec to CFB Ottawa (South) formerly called CFB Uplands..... I was called in by the BPERO, Jack Murdoch urgently at 9:30 or so and asked if I would run his tunic up to the Tailor shop and have the tailor iron it for him as he had been called up to the base headquarters by the Chief Admin Officer, a LCOL KEENE.......and for him to BE THERE in TUNIC and TIE.....sharply at 10am......so off I ran over to the CANEX tailor shop and sweet-talked the tailor (a nice Lebanese fella) to iron up his tunic.....I hurried back to the Gym, where Jack was standing outside, having a nervous smoke......he was happy as a clam that I had managed to get his tunic ironed.....he slipped it on and popped into his VW "bug" and zipped away just in time to get to HQ at 10am.
He returned red-faced just after lunch.........after being presented by the Commander of Air Transport Command (who was visiting Uplands that day from Command Headquarters in Trenton.....) the Base Commander and the Chief Admin Officer and of course, the base photo tech.......he was paraded in and awarded his Canadian Forces Decoration......then the group went off to the officers mess, where, with air force tradition, he, the newby CD winner, was required to use his Mess TAB to buy all there a round of drinks for a liquid luncheon.....
He had no sooner returned after lunch with his spanking new CD.....than he rounded me up once again.....this time to run off AGAIN to the tailor shop with his tunic to have his new CD ribbon sewn on......as he had been told that.......with your new CD, there is another obligation to attend the base headquarters special meeting at 2pm.
It was just after 1:30 that I sped off to the tailor shop ONCE AGAIN to get the tailor to sew on his new CD to his tunic (and again iron out the wrinkles that had been put on the tunic "during lunch"......again, I sweet talked the Lebanese tailor to sew on the new CD ribbon onto Jacks tunic and to touch it up with his iron......
I zipped back to the Gym, where, once AGAIN, Jack was outside the gym having another nervous smoke......he thanked me and slipped on his tunic and zipped off in his VW "bug" to get to HQ "just in time" to attend the "special meeting".....
I was just about to "lock and walk" from the Gym at 3PM......when JACK CAME BACK.....this time even more ruddy faced than before......with his tunic over his arm and begged me to......run BACK to the tailor shop ONE MORE TIME......
The "special meeting" had been another presentation to JACK......he had been promoted from Captain to MAJOR and the ATC Commander, the Base Commander and the Chief Admin Officer had been in on the whole days events to give JACK an old fashioned Air Force RUNAROUND......this time, with his new MAJOR stripes....(a full set of two....) he had been directed to ONCE AGAIN report to the bar in the OFFICERS MESS......"properly dressed as a MAJOR", as this time, his mess obligations as a newly promoted MAJOR was to buy all attending mess members a round, once again charged to his mess BAR TAB.....
So off I went BACK to the tailor shop and once again sweet-talked the tailor into stitching Jacks new MAJOR rank stripes onto his tunic AND to touch up the tunic with his iron......this time as like the tailor shop trip just before.....where I had to pay him to stitch on Jacks new CD ribbon....I also had to pay the tailor his $20 fee to stitch on Jacks new MAJOR rank stripes....BUT the iron-job was, fortunately part and parcel of that job....lucky for me as being a pay-poor Master Corporal.....I only had $30 left from THIS WEEKS PAY......
Back I went to the gym where Jack awaited outside having yet another nervous smoke.....as he put on his tunic, with my help holding it......he told me that the ATC Commander said that they had been jerking him around as the Commander refused to have someone promoted to MAJOR when his total CF service had not yet meritted the award of the Canadian Forces Decoration......and that ribbon was not already on the mans tunic....Jack said that his CD Eligibility date was actually only one week before the date of his promotion to MAJOR.....so the powers to be thought they had a perfect chance to jerk JACK around....
He said, that TOMORROW, he would re-imburse me the tailor fees for the CD ribbon and Major stripes sewing.....but it would be many YEARS before he finally did so....
PART TWO-JACK MURDOCH
I was posted from CFS Inuvik to the UTP (M) cadre at CFB Ottawa's support unit to attend the University of Ottawa and was in my first year as a "civvie", so during that year, I did not get bi-weekly haircuts and could wear "civvies" as a University student......I had a PMQ at Uplands and my wife, Sandra was a base hairdresser there.....my "day care" for my new son.....was none other than the Base Commander's wife....who had PMQ rug-rats of her own to deal with....so my son was dropped off at the Base Commanders residence in the morning and picked up from the hairdressing salon after classes later in the afternoon....where the Base Commanders wife was getting her hair done by ......my wife......as the Base Commanders wife is part and parcel of the Base Protocol of the Base Commanders job, meeting and greeting the worlds dignataries who visit Canada, arriving at CFB Ottawa VIP Terminal......a good swap.....hair-do for day-care.....!
I went to the hairdressing salon one afternoon, to be greeted by Mrs. Lionel Bourgeouis......(he the Base Commander).....and was told by her that I had better get a haircut QUICK as her husband was about to "have me called on the carpet....in uniform no less....." and most likely tomorrow......so off I zipped to get a haircut (had not had one in months) and get my tunic etc dry-cleaned.......for tomorrow.....
Sure enough, when I got back from the base barber shop (a military haircut then was only $5....) I had a message on my telephone answering machine from the University Liaison Officer to "get my sorry ass into my uniform and REPORT to the Base Chief Warrant Officer at.....0730 hours that next morning.....and be "prepared to face the music"......
I reported to Base Headquarters at zero dark thirty and parked in the Visitors spot.....and noticed a rather familiar VW "bug" parked there also.....I went into the HQ building and reported to the Base Chief office......where a stern faced Base Chief gave me the once over......and marched "my sorry ass" left-right, left-right hat under arm into the Base Commanders ante room, where MAJOR JACK MURDOCH stood with a big GRIN on his face and a envelope in his hand......as I was marched into the Base Commanders Office, Jack said to me that it was "PAYBACK TIME".....
Colonel Lionel Bourgeois then read off my career resume and awarded me MY Canadian Forces Decoration.....was I ever impressed to see that the medal's engraved edge was enscribed "OFFICER CADET FULLER, SA" and that the Base Commander told me that the Directorate of History and Heritage had informed him that only four members of the Canadian Forces had ever been awarded a CD while filling the appointment of Officer Cadet.....
I left the Colonels office to be faced by MAJOR JACK MURDOCH, who handed me that envelop, full of currency......apparently over the amount he owed me some years earlier...and told me that now that debt was repaid, I was to get my sorry ass over to the Bar of the officers mess and use that cash to buy a round of drinks....., AFTER I had stopped at the tailor shop to get the tailor to stitch on my new CD ribbon.....that is......
At the bar, our former PERI association was hashed and rehashed and, YES the envelope cash did somewhat offset the total bar bill....
I like many others, miss JACK......we will meet again at the gates to Gods Gym, where Jack will be waiting, having another nervous smoke I am sure....