A delight to see my old friend Grandfather Willy Bruce, (l) aboriginal vet about town, honouring his fallen comrades-in-arms on Remembrance Day, and sharing his own inspiring story with Metroland pifflesheet Ottawa South News:
“Many aboriginals were inspired to enlist for one simple reason: ‘It was an understanding that our brothers and sisters were going to be there and who was going to look after them?’ said Bruce, a member of the Ojibwa nation who was born in southwestern Ontario but raised in Australia. He joined the Australian Air Force and flew medevac helicopters for 18 months during the Vietnam War.”
Many’s the time Willy regaled us with his tales of heroism as a 19-year-old boy pilot in ‘Nam, how he walked away from a crash on two broken ankles, semper fi, etc.
So it came as an unwelcome shock in 2014 when Australia and New Zealand Military Imposters, a killjoy outfit that sniffs out bogus veterans, called bullshit on his inspiring personal narrative:
“No person by the name of Bruce served with the RAAF 9 Squadron in Vietnam and in any case there has never been a person in the RAAF who has qualified to fly a helicopter at the age of 19 years let alone fly in a combat zone. Bruce is not listed on the Australian Vietnam Veterans Nominal Roll. Notice that he claims to have sustained an injury in Vietnam that ended his Service career.
“9 Squadron was the only unit that employed Australian and New Zealand helicopter pilots in Vietnam. The 9 Squadron Association have never heard of Bruce and have provided a complete list of personnel who served in Vietnam with that unit and Bruce is not included.
“We requested Bruce’s RAAF file through the Freedom of Information system and we are not surprised to learn that Bruce does not have an RAAF file.”
Oh dear. The Aussie boo-birds further alleged that Willy’s parading about wearing the Vietnam Medal Ribbon and The Republic of Vietnam Campaign leaves him open to charges of falsely claiming to be a returned veteran and wearing medals that were not conferred should he ever ever show his face down under.
“We declare Willy Bruce to be a liar, fraud, wannabe and con man. A man who would lie to those he calls his friends is a sham without conscience. He has grossly insulted Australian and New Zealand Veterans and we are sure that Canadian Veterans will feel the same way.”
And indeed Willy’s problems didn’t stop there. The Canadian Aboriginal Veterans and Serving Members Association (CAV) followed up in writing in May of that year asking the noted war hero for any documentation that might back up his claims. Answers came there none.
“Mr. Bruce, it is apparent that you are not a Veteran of Military Service or a ADF Veteran of the Viet Nam War, the expectations are that you will henceforth conduct yourself as a Civilian and totally refrain from presenting yourself as a Military Veteran, wearing any military style clothing, and making a pretends [sic] of being a ADF Veteran,” the CAV wrote him that June.
“As a Non Veteran there is a requirement for you to return the ‘Canadian Aboriginal War Veterans Millennium Medal’ presented to you in year 2000 and any other Aboriginal Veterans medallions and Uniform Kit items that are in your possession to the CAV at the Address provided herein.”
CAV thingies even, outrageously enough, questioned Grandfather Willy’s First Nations bona fides:
“In consideration of the void of documents and other proof of being Aboriginal there are reasonable grounds to suspect that your claim of being Aboriginal is also a pretence.
“Mr. Bruce, you are often seen in military style dress and wearing a “Warriors Brest [sic] Plate and Shield” from the Plains Culture, there is no evidence noted anywhere that you are a member of a Warriors Societies of the Great Plains Tribes, discontinue this practise, it is an affront to those Societies and their Military Service and War Veterans.”
One bright spot in this ignominious orgy of honour-strippings: Willy’s congratulations-the-Queen-is-still-alive Diamond Jubilee Medal (Franks passim, ad absurdum) at least, seems to be legit.
Franck Gervais is 67.