FOCUS - SEPTEMBER 2016 39 FOCUS - NOVEMBER 2018 39 he year was 1999. The place was a small village in wartime Kosovo. Army Sgt. Vince Tripp was stationed with his platoon of 18 people in an old schoolhouse. His job was that of a vehicle techni- cian/tank mechanic. Local kids would come around to play in the old school- yard. There was a tree swing made out of a towrope, which they enjoyed. Superiors warned Vince that it could be unsafe for the children to come there to hang out because there were army tanks on the property. “These kids have been around tanks all of their lives,” Vince pointed out. He took the children under his wing, and assumed the responsibility of ensuring their safety while they visited the base. He gave them little chores like sweeping the parking lot, and paid them with chocolate bars. Friendships formed. “I guess we had a big impact on them,” Vince recalls, because a few months later, when his platoon was set to move on, 10-year- old Nemanja started to cry. He gave Vince a photo of himself and his little brother, so Vince wouldn’t forget them. Vince, in turn, gave Nemanja a photo of himself with his wife Laura and daughter Alexandra. It was these photographs that would connect them again years later. Recently, Vince started wondering about whatever happened to that lit- tle boy in the picture. He googled his name and village on Facebook, but at first, he got the wrong Nemanja. (This is apparently a very common name in Kosovo.) Being a small village, the boy Nemanja he tracked down happened to know the Nemanja that Vince was searching for and he put them in touch. Vince sent along the photo of the two brothers and asked,” Are you in this picture?”, and the answer was yes! Nemanja shared the photograph that Vince had given him almost 20 years ago. The fact that each had kept the photographs that they had exchanged led to an online reunion and renewed relationship as Face- book friends.Ayoung man of 29 now, Nemanja has a girlfriend and a pretty good job, which Vince was happy to learn. “It was unreal to get in touch with him again,” Vince commented. “Some day I’ll go back to Kosovo for a visit.” Vince Tripp is part of the new generation of veterans who are some- times overlooked because they did not serve in one of the Great Wars. Now at age 47, Vince’s tours of duty included Somalia in 1993, Bosnia in 1997 and 1998, Kosovo in 1999 and Afghanistan in 2003. He also spent three years in the army as a reporter for the army news. He enjoyed writing for the Maple Leaf newspaper, plus doing videos and photography. Especially fasci- nating was the study of battles and what the outcome may have been if things had been done differently, by the Germans, or the Canadians, etc. ThreeWWIIvets–onearmy,onenavy, and one air force – all participated. One memorable interview was with Jan de Vries, who parachuted in at the Pegasus Bridge, and years lat- er, told his story right at this historic site. Another story featured Vimy tour guides. Check out Postcards from the Battlefield on YouTube for some interesting historic information and images. TheformerArmySgt.,VinceTripp, has served as the Sgt. At Arms at Port Perry Legion Branch 419 for almost a year. He’s in charge of decorum, and he also does the drill commands for the colour party when on parade. He participated in the Vettes for Vets Nemanja, far left, along with some friends, hang out and clean up the compound. Vince gave them chocolate bars for helping. This 1999 photo shows Vince being tackled by a group of boys. Fun for all! T ...................... Please turn to page 40 ––– ARMY SGT. VINCE TRIPP ––– A Heartwarming Story of Wartime Friends