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As You Were: The Tragedy at Valcartier [Paperback]

Gerry Fostaty
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 1 2011

SUMMER, 1974 — Six teenaged boys died and fifty-four were injured in an explosion on a Canadian Forces Base in Valcartier, Quebec. A live grenade inadvertently made its way into a box of dud ammunition, and its pin was pulled during a lecture on explosives safety. One hundred and forty boys survived, each isolated in their trauma, yet expected to carry on with their lives.

Thirty-four years later, Gerry Fostaty, who was an 18-year-old sergeant that summer and one of the first on the scene after the explosion, received an unexpected e-mail from his former sergeant-major, triggering a journey into memory, a quest for a true picture of what had happened on that day. In As You Were, Fostaty pieces together the story of how a series of preventable mistakes led to tragedy.

The only full account of an event that received minor attention at the time, As You Were is the story of a normal day turned horrific, how duty, responsibility, and honour make ordinary people take extraordinary measures, and how an embarrassed military did their best to ignore this devastating incident.


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Review

"Written in a clear, engaging voice and never descends into sensationalist finger-pointing . . . a cogent and provocative reassessment of a tragic incident the DND has done little to address." — Paul Challen, Quill &; Quire

From the Back Cover

SUMMER, 1974 — Six teenaged boys died and fifty-four were injured in an explosion on the Canadian Forces Base in Valcartier, Quebec. A live grenade inadvertently made its way into a box of dud ammunition, and its pin was pulled during a lecture on explosives safety. One hundred and forty boys survived, each isolated in their trauma, yet expected to carry on with their lives.

Thirty-four years later, Gerry Fostaty, an 18-year-old sergeant that summer and one of the first on the scene after the explosion, received an unexpected email from his former sergeant-major, triggering a journey into memory — a quest for a true picture of what had happened on that day. In As You Were, Fostaty has pieced together the story of how a series of preventable mistakes led to tragedy.

The only full account of an event that received minor attention at the time, As You Were is the story of a normal day turned horrific; how duty, responsibility, and honour make ordinary people take extraordinary measures; and how the military did their best to ignore this devastating incident.

The M207 Grenade: The M207 grenade is a fragmentation hand grenade. It is lemon shaped and has a coil of notched steel covered with a smooth, thin, steel layer. Within the coil is an explosive centre. When detonated, the core shatters the coil and the steel casing, transforming the broken particles into high-velocity, irregularly shaped projectiles that can cause casualties up to fifteen metres away. It is a very effective anti-personnel device. That is, it was designed to kill and injure soldiers or anyone within its effective range. Because of its effectiveness, the design has been widely copied by many nations.

On the morning of July 15th, 1974, a Warrant Officer organized and selected the display items and the dummy explosives that he would use in the explosives safety lecture. All of them were display models and the dummies. They were painted bright colours and marked to make them distinct from the live models and easily recognizable. One never has to guess with these. The gaudy colours and markings indicate at a glance that they were dummies. The live explosives were olive green. The Warrant Officer carefully chose the items to reflect a wide range of ordinance, including grenades, anti-personnel mines, and rockets.


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review by John Cowans April 18 2012
Format:Paperback
Gerry Fostaty, AS YOU WERE,The Tragedy at Valcartier, Goose Lane, Fredericton, NB, 2011, 197 pages, Paperback, ISBN 978-0-86492-648-7 Non-Fiction $19.95

As You Were is the story of a deadly accident that could have been prevented, when young boys were killed and many others were badly wounded. The cause of the accident was glossed over, and the resulting human damage trivialized and ignored by military authorities for many years. On Tuesday, July 31, 1974, at approximately 1352 hours, six teenaged boys, all members of the Royal Canadian Army Cadets, died and fifty-four were injured in an explosion on a Canadian Forces Base in Valcartier, Quebec. A live grenade inadvertently made its way into a box of dummy ammunition, and its pin was pulled during a lecture on explosives safety. Gerry Fostaty, a witness to this tragedy, and author of this moving account, spent six years as an army cadet, climbing the ranks until he became an instructor. Leaving the cadets at 19, he became an actor, working on stage and in film and television for more than 20 years. He now works as a marketing manager at an information technology company. He lives in Aurora, Ontario. As You Were is his retelling of the Valcartier tragedy.
The Royal Canadian Army Cadets (RCAC) is a Canadian national youth program sponsored by the Canadian Forces and the civilian Army Cadet League of Canada. Administered by the Canadian Forces, the program is funded through the Department of National Defence with the civilian partner providing support in the local community. Recognized as Canada's oldest youth program, there are approximately 21,000 army cadets in about 450 corps across the country.
In the summer of 1974, Gerry Fostaty was an 18 year old Cadet Sergeant stationed at Valcartier, Quebec.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Canadian History Uncovered March 30 2011
Format:Paperback
I am familiar with one of the subjects of this book. I am glad that finally there has been written a logical note of what happened. We have many questions which need to be answered and many who were affected by the events. I am looking forward to participating with the author and trying to understand what happened in 1974 in Valcartier, Quebec, who has been affected and how can we today remedy the situation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well worth reading June 8 2011
By duke
Format:Paperback
This is an important book about a little known episode in recent Canadian history. Kudos to Gerry Fostaty for his courage and skill in telling this story, which is also his story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Gerry Fostaty has written a book that is an enjoyable read due to his clear style and clear description of a major Canadian military tragedy that until recently was little known by most Canadians. He conveys the deep sense of injustice that followed the Valcartier incident by many of those directly involved and raises good questions about the handling of the incident. He not only describes in detail the incident and its lead up but also the aftermath and his deep personal involvement, as a young 18 year old Sargeant that day, comes across page after page. A highly recommended read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As you were a tradegy at valcartier April 12 2011
By Elaine
Format:Paperback
You have to read this book.
They were only kids and went through hell.
I have a brother who was there when the grenade exploded. He was injured with shrapnel in his arm and still to this day has some in him.
After reading this book I had nightmares, knowing what he went through but am glad the story was published.

I find it very disturbing that these cadets did not received compensation or pardon for what was done to their youth.
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