Remembrance Day: Bachmier proud to stand on guard

After serving tours of duty in Iraq and Kuwait, Dave Bachmier wasn’t going to cower in fear from any home-grown terrorism threats.

Dave Bachmier (right) receives the Chief of Defence Staff commendation in 1984 from Chief of defence Staff General Girard Theriault.

Dave Bachmier (right) receives the Chief of Defence Staff commendation in 1984 from Chief of defence Staff General Girard Theriault.

After hearing about the attacks on Canadian soil, Grand Forks resident and veteran Dave Bachmier was not going to back down.

After serving tours of duty in Iraq and Kuwait, he wasn’t going to cower in fear from any home-grown terrorism threats.

The Canadian military commanded urged its soldiers to not wear their uniforms in public; fortunately, as a veteran, Bachmier did not have to comply.

Although he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Bachmier stood proudly on guard at the cenotaph during the funerals of officers Cirillo and Vincent.

On Saturday (Nov. 1) during Vincent’s funeral, he stood alongside his son and service dog, along with Bill Emery and Bud Alcock.

Bachmier said he always wanted to be a peacekeeper. He recalls growing up in Chilliwack and playing “Axis and Allies” instead of Cowboys and Indians.

When he turned 12, Bachmier joined the Army Cadets and eventually reached the rank of Chief Warrant Officer.

“Then I joined the reserves for a short period of time,” he said. “In 1982 I joined the regular forces with the PPCLI infantry. Unfortunately, I was in a military truck accident where three of my fellow officers were killed.”

He received a medal of commendation for outstanding leadership in a crisis situation while injured.

During his military career, Bachmier served all across Canada. He had a tour in Washington, D.C. at the Canadian Embassy. He had tours overseas in Iraq, Kuwait and the Island of Cypress.

Bachmier recalls serving on the Island of Cypress where he was in charge of finances.

“We were there when Libya was threatening to kill a Canadian soldier because Canada had extradited a terrorist back in 1988 back to Israel,” he said.

Bachmier also recalled one of the holidays when the Greek people wanted to come to the Turkish side and gather the remains of their families that had remained there since the early war.

“We had to build a defensive line with a metal fence to keep them from coming to the Turkish side where they would’ve been machine gunned down,” he said. “Events kept rolling forward. Next thing we know, people in the crowd are throwing buckets of gasoline on us and flicking matches and throwing burning clothes. They were trying to set us on fire so we would not man the line and let them come through but our mandate was to not let any war-time events occur.”

Bachmier said that as soon as he and the other soldiers were doused with gasoline, they would move back from the line and get hosed off and change uniforms and go back up and relieve the next group.

“We were lucky there we never lost any soldiers in my tour there in Cypress,” he said. “And no Turks or Greeks died during this demonstration. I was very proud of that.”

In 1981, he served in the first Gulf War in Doha, Kuwait.

He remembers the stifling heat. “The average temperature for heat was 57 degrees Celsius during the day,” said Bachmier. “Twice we went up to 67. It dropped down to 42 for three days. It was so cold that we actually climbed into our sleeping bags to sleep. We were so acclimatized to 57 that 42 was cold to us.”

He also got to work on a Canadian patrol frigate, the HMCS Vancouver. “We tested that fellow up and down the Eastern seaboard,” said Bachmier. He remembers testing the heating system by sailing up the Grand Banks in Newfoundland to try and freeze the upper decks of the brand new ship.

A few years later, he commissioned the HMCS Montreal as they sailed up the St. Laurence River.

Back problems ended Bachmier’s military career but he was able to continue in a peacekeeping role.

“I worked with cadets in the Canadian Scottish regiment on the Island (CFB Comox) for eight years,” he said.

He received several awards and citations for his work as a peacekeeper including the volunteer of the year of the Army Cadet league in 2005.

Bachmier’s last position was as release supervisor where he dealt with soldiers as they left the military. He became quite aware of the affects of PTSD and soon realized he was afflicted. He was then tested and diagnosed with the disorder.

“That changed my life because I became aware of why I was a distant person,” he said. “I started looking at ways to deal with it. That progressed us to retirement.”

He retired in 2007 after almost 26 years with the military.

“Prior to us moving—the last eight months I was housebound,” said Bachmier. “I was so paranoid of the outside world. I thought people were coming to get me. I was at the height of my hyper-vigilance and anxiety with PTSD. I was having a really hard time dealing with it.”

In 2009, he and his wife left Comox and moved to Grand Forks.

“We ended up buying 35 acres on the back of Spencer Hill,” he said. “That was the start of the recovery process that led to me being able to run a business instead of hiding.”

It took about a year and a half before Bachmier felt confident enough to leave the mountain without his wife or dog. “I felt okay,” he said. “That was when I knew I had to move forward. We began training my dog Pinnaar to be a PTSD service dog.”

Although Pinnaar isn’t yet fully certified as a service dog, Bachmier said they are working towards that through Wounded Warrior Canada.

“At the end of (the program) you come out with a federally registered and certified training dog with her own identification that gives you more access,” he said. “We can start going to movies again, start going shopping again, start going to the all-candidates forum, which I couldn’t go to. There’s a huge building with so many people and so many unknowns. She gives me the strength that I actually own and run a business in town through her support.”




Grand Forks Gazette