William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD


In 1968, prior to us (The Canadian Airborne Regiment) having our own mountain school at Kananaskis we did rappelling from helos, jungle fire lanes in the salal, and we held a mini mountain school in the Chilliwack Training Area. We climbed Church Mountain; at that time, I was with the AB Bty because we RHQ members were farmed out to various sub units for Commando and Field Training.

We had been sleeping in wet tents in the mud for nearly three weeks when we went up the mountain. We climbed the cliff side and drove in pitons and hauled arty ammo and a gun in pieces up the mountain along with our rucks on ropes. The guys above always seemed to kicking rocks on one’s head. RP4’s were eaten cooked or cold on a ledge half way up, some guys even lit their camp stoves and had a hot meal. At the top there was deep snow. Standing on the peak we could see over the tops of two other smaller mountains and could see the lights of Vancouver away in the distance. On the other side the lads were trying to dry out their sleeping bags and clothes and had a huge bonfire going with trees dragged up from the sides of the river. Going down was a wee bit faster as we used logging roads for the most part. The ruck started to get heavy and I was a bit faint but was happy to see the Red Cross on the AB Medics MIR tent. I asked Cpl McLean if he had any cold pills, as I was a bit weak and a bit faint. He said, “Sarge take off your pack and rest on that stretcher.” whilst saying to the medic trooper beside him “Here’s another one” Next thing I remember, I was bouncing around in the prone position on that canvas stretcher in the back of a deuce and a half with two other similar patients. In Chilliwack Camp they made the whole wing of a barrack block into a temporary hospital. The Hong Kong Flu had hit our lads with a vengeance and 70+ patients were being treated at CFB Chilliwack’s temporary hospital.

I was passed out but came too very abruptly as two burley Reserve MAs (called out for the emergency), dropped me into a boiling hot bath. I came out of that tub, sat up with a vengeance, wanting to kill the MAs who departed the scene. I guess they wanted to get the mud and sweat off of me prior to putting me into a hospital bed. They forget to test the water. I was beet red when I passed out again. Next I was floating in the air above a bed. The Nursing Sister had on a white veil head dress cap and had 3 rows of WW2 and Korean War ribbons on her white vest. The MO said to her, “If we don’t get this down soon we are going to lose him.” She helped him to roll me over and he put a needle filled with penicillin into my bare rear end. It wasn’t a pretty sight. They rolled me over again and I watched the whole thing from the air above the bed. She spoke to a female Sergeant MA, also Militia, and told her to keep watch and to advise her if there was any change. The Sergeant pulled up a chair and took a paperback novel out of her Government Issue Handbag. I then thought to myself, hey they are talking about me. I better call Lynne (my wife) and tell her where I am. (She was in the PMQ back in Edmonton). I then flew towards a bright light down a well-lit peaceful tunnel.

The light went out and the next thing I knew I was awake, laying in the same hospital bed I had previously observed from above, looking up at the Nursing Sister with all of the war ribbons on her left chest. It was two days later. She said, “Sergeant Willbond, we were worried about you there for a while the day before yesterday.” I never mentioned the flying into lights or hovering above the bed because I did not think it was the thing to do being a macho commando and all. I later learned that others too had similar experiences when they came close to death. Anyway, I have not feared dying since, but would still like to get my hands on those two male Militia MAs who bathed me in boiling water. Hey, I could still offer them both a free unarmed combat lesson. I heard the rumour that a madman with red hair was attacking and trying to kill two medics in the bath tub set up room of the buckshee hospital a few days before, and I thought it was a dream, until I saw the skin peeling from my arms and legs during my recovery period.

Canadian Soldier Poet