By Lyonel Doherty
There’s nothing worse than boredom, but in Alan Clause’s case, it pointed him in the right direction as a restless teen.
“I got bored with high school at 17. I asked my parents to give me their permission to enlist in the Canadian Forces, which they did.”
Born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1947, he grew up with a passion for the outdoors. But he got antsy in secondary school and needed something more at his age. After his mom and dad let him join the army, he was sent to the infantry regiment called the Royal Canadian Regiment 2nd Battalion.
Clause spent six months in London, Ontario where he became an armoured personnel carrier operator for A company.
At the age of 18, he was sent to Soest, Germany for 30 months with the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade. Then he became a gunner for an anti-tank platoon.
“It was a good education to see Europe,” Clause told the Pioneer.
In 1968 he was honourably released with a special service medal with a NATO bar, Duke of Edinburgh Brooch, Queen Elizabeth 11 Golden Jubilee medal, and a Nijmegen marching medal.
Boredom caught up with him again, so he joined the United States Marines in 1968.
“I got my wish as a heavy equipment operator; I built and repaired roads, loaded and unloaded convoys, built runways and helicopter pads, and did road sweeps in the mornings looking for booby traps.”
Clause served 17 months and seven days overseas in southeast Asia in Vietnam and Okinawa, and was honourably released as a sergeant in 1971.
His most memorable experience?
“The only thing I can remember when I arrived in Vietnam was the heat, the smell of the country, and the red dirt. Oh, and when I flew to Dong Ha from Dang we came under small arms fire. When we got out of the way of the cargo, which was let loose after we left the C-130 (Hercules), it never stopped, which we called ‘touch and go.’ We were in the middle of the runway looking for shelter when someone yelled ‘over here!’ Then we took off like scared rabbits.”
Clause received a Purple Heart for his service. It was Labour Day weekend in 1969 when he got hit by four pieces of shrapnel. He spent three hours in an aid station, and the next day was spent in the bunkers. He was sent out the following day for a job at another base down the road.
Clause also received the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with four stars, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Medal, and the Meritorious Mast.
Locally, Clause was presented a Quilt of Valour for his service.