Deep trouble: Cyprus, 1970

Tom Lessard on his 30th birthday in Cyprus, three years before he got into 'deep trouble.'Keeping the peace
By Tom Lessard, former UN peacekeeper

I was over in Cyprus in 1970 for a six-month tour. I was with the Delta Company, 1 RCR. I came off the outpost – I had been on the night shift – and I had a couple sandwiches and went into the shack, which was a bombed out schoolhouse. And my buddy Freddy is there and he’s down and out. Right out of it. I asked what was wrong and Freddy says, “Well, somebody stole my wallet.”
I said, “What was in it?” and he said 15 pounds. Fifteen pounds was a lot of money in those days, but his ID card and all his other stuff was in it, too, so I said, “Well what are you doing with it?”
He said the red caps are out looking for it – that’s the British military police. I said, “Well, I’ll go out and see what they’re doing.”
I found them and they were at our outhouse – a three-holer. I said, “Well, did you find the wallet?” and they said, “Yep.” Shone the flashlight down and said, “There it is right there.”
I looked down and said, “Well, are you going down to get it?” They said “No, we’re not getting the d@3^ thing… you want it, you go down and get it yourself.” So I said “All right.”
I went and got four guys, 50’ of rope, I got my respirator, and we took the seat cover off – it’s a corrugated box about 20x20x20 – and two guys got on one side of the wall and two other guys – one on each side of the hole – and we tied a rope around my feet. I had stripped down to my shorts and had just the respirator and a flashlight. They tied my feet and lifted me over the hole. I went down in and as I got past the corrugated steel, I hollered out, “Anybody else down here?”
Well, for Pete’s sake, they started laughing so much they dropped the rope. But I saw the wallet and as I went kerplush, I grabbed the wallet in my hand.
They hauled me out of there and as I got out it must have been 80 or 85 degrees anyway. As soon as they got me out, they just left me and took off. They couldn’t stand the stink and the sight of it.
So I undid the ropes, I called out for Freddy, gave him his wallet, he grabbed it, took his ID card out and threw it right back down in.
I went down to the canteen, which is right at the bottom of the building in the basement. I went in and had a couple of beer and everybody took off. Then I went and had a few showers and that was the end of that.
Six months later our time was up and they do an assessment. Sgt. Ivy, who was my platoon sergeant, wrote down under Tom Lessard: ”Volunteers to get himself in sh!t.”