William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

TOP OF THE SHORT LIST

Canada’s top peace keeper was sworn in to lead Albertans’ today.
He is their new Lieutenant Governor! Let us all shout hooray!
Don is a famous old infantry soldier, who served often away.
In the Queen’s Own and the Patricia’s he earned his daily pay.

He exchanged many prisoners and the bodies of the dead,
Daily risking his life and protecting the men that he led.
On fourteen peace keeping mission he served overseas,
Retiring to help Canadian veterans who had OSI disease.

He led CAVUNP for years and he assisted disabled vets.
He made the wall of honour in Calgary – lest we forget.
The PM has honoured all of us, by his selection of Don.
From the top of the short list which was pretty long!!!

Congratulations Your Honour!

Ethell: Natural Leader

FROM Al

Calgary Herald Archives Photos - Don Ethell became one of Canada’s most decorated peacekeepers during a 38-year military career, which got off to a rocky start due to his affinity for “beer and girls.”

Don Ethell: Persian Gulf War
Among his many military posts, Ethell served as deputy force commander of the multinational forces in the Persian Gulf War

Don Ethell: Failed at Retirement
Ethell, who has remained an advocate for veterans since ending his military career in 1993, says he has failed at retirement
Donald Stewart Ethell was born in Vancouver in 1937 and raised in Victoria. He sought out the military at a young age, joining the army as a rifleman in 1955 with the Queen’s Own Rifles and moving to Calgary the next year.

His storied military career included assignments in Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel and the Balkans, as well as leader of Canadian peacekeeping operations from 1987 until 1990.

Ethell also served as deputy force commander of multinational forces during the l990 Persian Gulf War. He came out of retirement for his final assignment in Yugoslavia, before calling it quits in 1993.

He has since volunteered on scores of committees dedicated to veterans’ issues and been a military adviser for humanitarian agencies. Despite his accomplishments, Ethell acknowledges he has been unable to fulfil a set of self-imposed orders.

“I failed retirement.”

But failure isn’t part of Ethell’s vocabulary, insist fellow veterans who know him well.

Major-General (retired) Lewis MacKenzie, himself one of Canada’s greatest peacekeepers, credits part of his own military success to stand-out soldiers such as Ethell, who served under his command during a tense six-month mission to Cypress in 1965.

The Canadians were responsible for keeping the Turks and Greeks from killing each other.

Ethell was instrumental in the successful mission, MacKenzie said, and left a lasting impression on him.

“It was then I realised he had a great potential,” MacKenzie said. “Very self-effacing. Strong Views. Natural Leader.”

Ethell’s dedication to fellow soldiers stretches back decades – even when it came time to discipline them. He believes in second chances, much like the one given him.

Once elevated to company commander, he was authorized to hold military summary trials. He admits to throwing out a couple of cases against soldiers.

“I was not a great fan of the formal discipline system,” he said.

Back on the front lines, one of Ethell’s greatest military achievements came in 1984, enforcing a fragile truce between Syria and Israel as the two sides exchanged prisoners of war and dead soldiers amid a “highly charged” atmosphere Yet, it was his mission in Yugoslavia in 1992 amid a bloody civil war – trying to enforce some peace with a European Community monitoring mission – that was potentially the most dangerous of his career.

“There were some terrible, terrible atrocities,” Ethell said. “Life was very cheap and a lot of people were killed on all sides.”

The mission, along with decades of service in other hostile environments, has left some permanent mental scars. Ethell suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, although he said it is “controlled,” and continues to be a mental-health for veterans.

“I finally looked in the mirror, like a lot of our colleagues did, and said, ‘I’ve got a problem,’” he explained.

In the same vein, he doesn’t like war movies. But he believes every military commander should watch the graphic first hour of Saving Private Ryan before sending troops to war.

Indeed, the Colonel is a tireless fighter for soldiers’ physical and mental well-being as well as for humanitarian aid projects, argue those who’ve come to know Ethell in his military retirement.

“He is a perfectionist. He will not quit until the job is done,” said Tom Hradec, 66, who worked alongside of Ethell during their involvement over the past 15 years in Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping.

Hradec worries his good friend’s work ethic often translates into him taking on too much. “I’ve told him several times, ‘Don, I don’t want to see you in an early grave.’”

MacKenzie offered a similar assessment, contending Ethell’s new role requires endurance and that he must learn to say no – something difficult to do for former military commanders keen on confronting challenges.

The general recognises it could be a tough sell, though, to a stubborn friend “who would disagree without being disagreeable.”

When Alberta’s next lieutenant-governor does have spare time, he uses it to read. But Ethell foresees his hobbies taking a back seat to his new job, and instead is hoping to tour many regions of Alberta that are foreign to him and his wife of 50 years. Linda.

“We’re really going to be on the move,” Ethell said, “and get to know Alberta even better.”

New Lieutenant-Governor Ethell to Be Sworn In On Tuesday

Colonel Don Ethell
Colonel Don Ethell has been named Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta. A veteran of 14 peacekeeping missions, Ethell is considered Canada’s most experienced and decorated peacekeeper.

Hearty congratulations to a peacekeeping veteran who has worked tirelessly for years in the interest of vets everywhere. Colonel Don Ethell has served on 14 peacekeeping missions during a distinguished military career. He served many years as president of the Canadian Association of Veterans of United Nations Peacekeeping (CAVUNP). Ethell has been appointed the lieutenant-governor of Albert. A worthy selection.
Jason Fekete
Calgary Herald

Retired Colonel Don Ethell was a troublemaker and a poor soldier when he joined the Canadian military in the 1950s.

He failed training during a 10 month stint in the air force as an electronics technician when he was 17, recognising he wasn’t terribly interested in anything “other than beer and girls.”

Ethell was only allowed to move on to a career in the army after clearing 12 months probation.

Even then, he was at one point demoted from corporal for his poor behaviour.

“It was immaturity,” Ethell, 72, recalls about his early days in the military. “It took a year for the army to take a chance on me.”

The gamble paid off.

From the humblest of military beginnings, the Calgarian rose through the ranks and into the upper echelons of the Canadian Forces to become one of the country’s most decorated peacekeepers during a distinguished 38-year career.

On Tuesday, the veteran of 14 peacekeeping missions around the world is about to add another title and accolade to his name: His Honour.

Ethell will be sworn in at the legislature as Alberta’s 17th lieutenant-governor, complete with a 100-person military honour guard and 15-gun salute.

He succeeds fellow Calgarian Norman Kwong – whose portrait will be unveiled Monday at the legislature after completing a five-fear term as the royal representative in the province.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunities that were presented to me by the military. It was shape up or get out.” Ethell said in an interview.

“And that’s exactly what I did.”