For the vast public, global historical events are experienced through either television broadcasts, reading newspaper articles or remembering where one was during a given moment in time. For retired Lieutenant Colonel Al Price, an Airdrie resident, the historical events that have been written about in books are something he has seen with his own eyes. 

Lieutenant Colonel Price joined the Canadian Army in 1963 as a vehicle technician. Price, who comes from a long line of military men, enlisted at the tender age of 17 and his very first overseas deployment was when he was 20 years old. Price would travel to the Middle East and be stationed there for 11 months.  

"I was part of the contingent of Canadians [in Egypt] at the time who was responsible for some of the logistics aspects of maintaining the force that was there. I was a young vehicle mechanic at that point in time and did a variety of jobs, rebuilding things, and fixing things, especially during a vehicle recovery out in the desert," Price said. "I actually celebrated my 21st birthday on the airplane going to Egypt." 

Price would experience first-hand the dramatic implications of one of the most consequential conflicts in the Middle East: The Six-Day War. The conflict that arose between Israel and a coalition of Arab states ended with the geopolitical and geographic map of the Middle East being withdrawn. And as Price remembers it, Canadian forces who were stationed there had to leave hastily and quickly as conflict brewed. 

"We reduced our camp in size; the Egyptians started coming through the wire and going through into our quarters and stealing everything that wasn't bolted down. In fact, they came into our quarter one night and stole all our wallets. It got a bit scary at that point in time." 

Price said that even though he was literally inside a historically pivotal moment, it never occurred to him because his thoughts were focused on coming home to Canada safely. Price would serve as a mechanic until 1974 when he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and shortly after he was offered his commission in the Royal Canadian Electrical Mechanical Engineers. By 1981, Price was once again deployed, this time to Germany, where he would be promoted to Major. Price would be stationed in Germany until 1984.  

When Price returned to Canada, he would command the Base Workshop in Edmonton and while there, he was selected as the military coordinator on the staff of Her Majesty The Queen Mother, The Duke and Duchess of York and His Holiness Pope John Paul II during their visits to Alberta. 

"Those were certainly exciting times and I think the reason I was selected, was because I was a sort of a token army guy on an Air Force Base, and pilots were busy," Price said. "Once you did one and it was a half-decent job, you ended up doing the others. But it was quite an experience, something I really cherish." 

In his 37-year military career, Price said that the last four years of his time with Canada's Armed Forces were perhaps some of the most challenging and the most rewarding.  

"I was the senior logistics coordinator for all offshore land, sea and air operations. I did 41 trips across the Atlantic in 48 months, and a lot of them were in hostile areas. We would go in, often before the peace treaty was signed, to establish where the Canadians could go, what they could do and how they would do it."  

Price's long list of military and civil awards range from the Army Commanders Commendation for Leadership, to being awarded the Order of Military Merit, Canada’s highest peacetime decoration for extraordinary work and dedication to the Canadian Forces. In 2019, he was awarded the Governor Generals Sovereign Medal for Volunteerism and in 2020, Price was awarded the Quilt of Valour for his service to Canada. 

Though Price has seen many conflicts, spanning many continents across the globe, he continues to reflect on what all this means, not just to him, but to those who never came home. 

"I remember those that I served with and those that didn't make it home. I think it's very important for Canadians to understand what the Canadian military does because often they don't know what we do. I am part of the Memory Project, which is part of Historica Canada. Every year at this time I speak to students in schools," he said. "I tell them what we do in the way of peacekeeping and why we live in such a peaceful world; it is because of those Canadians that have gone and sacrificed on our behalf." 

Price, like many veterans who are a part of the Memory Project - a volunteer speakers bureau that arranges for veterans and Canadian Forces members to share their stories of military service at school and community events across the country, tries to impress upon the younger generations that everything that Canadians have, including dearly cherished rights and freedoms do have a price. 

"We're allowed to go to school, we have our parents at home, and we have a nice house. There are lots of kids in the world that don't have those opportunities at all. There are lots of kids who are afraid to go to bed at night because they don't know if they're going to wake up or if their parents are going to wake up in the morning. All that we have, doesn't come free." 

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