Report #101 filed
9:30AM from Valhalla Apartments, Unit 34, 505 Second Street, Nelson, BC, Canada
Call me “Mac”. I’m Colin McKenzie, Staff Sergeant, RA 28998847. In accordance with the Geneva Convention, that’s all that’s required.
When Ben Perrini called this morning, I was having my first cup of coffee and watching TV. It was the usual depressing breaking Vancouver 9:00 News on CBC Channel One. Ben’s call was a welcome interruption. After briefly exchanging old times trivia, Ben said he had a dead Native American on a slab in the lab and needed help with identifying it. He said he thought that my job as Provincial Forensic Investigator could add a real value to his investigation. I have some discretion as to working hours and I wasn’t due at the office in Trail until Noon. So I made a tactical decision and told him I should be able to make it to Deer Park by around 4:00 PM.
Ben and I met each other for the first time in Boa Loc, Vietnam in 1962 when neither of us was supposed to be there. We were both part of a shadow incursion military mission sent by the US to advise and aid Saigon in it’s struggle with Hanoi for control of the country. The war wasn’t officially acknowledged until either late 1961 or the middle of July 1965, depending on who you want to believe. The United States Department of Defense has said no obvious and verifiable start date exists. By late 1961, the United States began a transition from advice and support to a direct combat role. This led to the participation of U.S. military personnel in South Vietnamese operations. For Ben and those of us who survived or didn’t by mid-1965, combat dominated and remained the major, but not the only role of US forces in the Vietnam War until 1971. July 1965 was when the US made a commitment to win the war. Our job was to help the US complete its transition from advice and support to direct combat.
Ben was the Avionics Tech and I was the port side door gunner on a Marine Sikorsky Seahorse Utility Chopper. Looking back, it seems like a miracle that we’re both still here. When we finally got home our job skills were limited and focused. The only training we received was how to wear a uniform and carry and use a weapon. And the only jobs that sort of fitted that skill set were in law enforcement. Transitioning from search and destroy to serve and protect was awkward and difficult. We’ve both survived Vietnam and a career in law enforcement, so far.
When he called this morning, Ben said he thought my experience with the First Nation Band’s St’at’ima Chief’s Council in BC might be helpful. Driving down to Deer Park gave me plenty of time to try and remember what might work.