Cover

Memories to the grave

BENOIT AUBIN July 21 2003
Cover

Memories to the grave

BENOIT AUBIN July 21 2003

Memories to the grave

Cover

Men have changed, a lot, since Aimé Michaud was a tough 20-year-old from Quebec City, fighting for his life halfway around the globe, shooting mortar shells in the Korean War. “Our men in Bosnia today, they sleep in private rooms with showers, they have psychologists at their disposal, and they can call the wife on the phone every night,” he says. Korea was something else. “We slept in dugouts. Some-

times it was so cold that the water froze at the bottom of the pits-but we didn’t have sleeping bags. We stitched wool blankets together with dynamite wire." His tour of duty lasted more than a year. “Four hundred and fourteen days. I counted each of them."

Michaud, now 73, reached the front lines five hours before his sergeant was blown to bits by a bomb. In the ’50s, young studs like Michaud clenched their teeth when struggling with the horror, the shock, the stress, the pain of combat “We never told our stories to the outside world," he says, “We kept them all bottled up inside. There are memories ! will take to my grave."

Korea left both emotional and physical scars.

“We controlled hilltops, but the enemy roamed after dark," he recalls. “I was on a run to get rations one night and a shell exploded. Leg injuries, shrapnel in my face, skin burned brown, peeling off. Going deaf, the blast sending you flying in the air, life oozing out of your body through your nose and ears and whatnot.”

He never was the same after he came back. “To this day I have not slept with the door closed," Michaud says, his voice cracking. He recently took to seeing a psychologist. “So many god-awful images," he says, before surrendering to sobs.

But that’s OK. Today, real men can cry.

BENOIT AUBIN