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By Mark Pavilons
Local Journalism Initiative
“If we don't tell our stories, no one else will.”
That's the reason King's own LCol (ret'd) Susan Beharriell, O.M.M., CD, shares her military experiences through a unique government program.
Reaching out to largely students from primary grades through university, Beharriell delivers talks to the nation's young people through The Memory Project, operated by Historica Canada.
“Personal stories always (help) make history come alive,” she said, noting she's helping to spread awareness among new and young Canadians about our military history. It's very rewarding, Beharriell notes, for speakers to engage with others.
“It's a great way to contribute to Canadians' understanding of our country.”
Through the program, teachers or organizations can request speakers to address their students or members. While many visits were previously done in person, they are now conducted online until the pandemic is under control.
Historica Canada (makers of the Heritage Minutes and The Canadian Encyclopedia) offers programs that the public can use to explore, learn and reflect on our history, and what it means to be Canadian.
Beharriell is often sought after because she was a high-ranking female officer, a Senior Air Force Intelligence Officer who served during the Cold War, and Peacekeeping eras in the Canadian Forces.
Beharriell was a bit of a trailblazer, moving up through the ranks in a male-dominated profession that began in the 1970s.
“Throughout my career, men have often told me that I could not do things, simply because of being a woman.”
Beharriell proved them wrong, every step of the way, from officer's training and joining the Security and Intelligence Branches, to flying in a fighter jet.
“They told me I couldn't fly in a high-performance jet aircraft, because ‘my female parts would be damaged.' I have over 80 hours in the back seat of fighters, including the most modern aircraft, the CF-18. It was quite a thrill breaking the sound barrier at 100 feet, climbing straight up, and doing rolls and loops above the clouds. Seven years after I left Cold Lake, the first two women became fighter pilots.”
One of her more exciting memories is being part of the first team to successfully intercept, with the brand-new CF-18s, a pair of Russian Tupolev Tu-95 (“Bear”) bombers testing Canada's defensive capabilities. She has some really neat photos of the aircraft.
Beharriell notes that she faced discrimination, sexual harassment, physical assault, ignorance, prejudice, and male chauvinism. But these only made her stronger, more resolute.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I have had a motto. That motto is, ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained.' Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Try it sometime. You may just surprise yourself.”
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the end of the Gulf War. Historica Canada launched a new video, “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” to mark the anniversary. It examines the conflict through the eyes of four veterans. One of the veterans is Beharriell. She was Chief Intelligence Analyst and briefer at Allied Air Force Central Europe HQ, Germany, during the Gulf War, in 1990-1991. You can view it here:
YouTube Video: YouTube.com/watch?v=CCknJrOYlCU
Excerpt: “If we don’t tell our stories, no one else will.” That’s the reason King’s own LCol (ret’d) Susan Beharriell, O.M.M., CD, shares her military experiences through a unique government program.
Post date: 2021-04-19 10:16:33
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