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Somebody fired a couple mortars

Heroes Remember

Somebody fired a couple mortars

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Canadians have a very, very long and proud history, but one of the things that's consistent through it, we've always been very diplomatic and we've always been very conscience of the other person's differences. And growing up in, I grew up travelling around Canada. I've been across Canada four times. The cultural differences are they're here, but they're not, they're not different. They just have a different way of doing things. And they don't try to force their religion on me and I don't do it to them and, or their cultural, their cultural differences. So we, we already have within ourselves this, this calm nature, this very diplomatic nature as a nation. And the Canadian soldier from experience of Cyprus and Egypt, and that, where we had traditional peace keeping missions and that. We learn from that, and of course those lessons are passed on through the ranks and to everybody. And now in Afghanistan, I don't thinkit's any different than when I was an Bosnia. An incident that we did do, influenced and saved lives and that. The, it started off that, we weren't real happy, things had been relatively quiet for a little while, and parliament was sending over a bunch of people to evaluate the threat situation, in the efforts to reduce our danger pay. The colonel had set it up to take them over and, to the Serb site, actually go across the confrontation line. And go over there, something no politician had, had done, just certain Canadian ones, as far as my knowledge was. We were getting all geared up to go over, and we briefed them on the terrain and the area and I did my terrain briefing and everybody had taken their turn briefing, on what we were doing on the missions and stuff. We load them in the vehicles, and we had to hold them there for quite a while, somebody had fired a couple of mortars. Right over top of our observation post in the school, that I was telling you about earlier. They'd gone down and they landed in front of the hospital. And that was where we were planning on taking these people was to the hospital, to show them some work that our medical staff was doing, as well. Unfortunately they killed the 16 year old nephew of the Serb commander and we waited until the situation calmed and we, the colonel was adamant, they needed to go over. And we had them dressed in helmets and flak jackets, armoured vehicles and so they were, they were well protected. We took them over, and one of the first things he showed them was blood on the road. Then he told them what had happened. Then we took them on the tour of the hospital. The colonel went and talked to the Serb commander, and convinced him that it was a terrible act, and it was definitely . . . yes he had to agree it was targeted against civilians, because they were trying to hit a civilian hospital, not a military target. But he convinced that commander not to shell the town, but to hit a military target. And he turned a kilometre of trench lines, into a plowed field. I have no idea how many people were killed in that, but he was mad and he was angry, and his way of taking out his anger and frustration was to, with weapons. And he had them, they were in his control. But we changed it, he didn't shoot at the town, where the mortars had come from, he fire . . . he shot at a military target, it made a difference. People in the town were safe. We weren't there to make the peace. Our mission, our secondary mission was the promotion of peace. So this was our primary mission, supporting humanitarian aid. Well the only people who are supposed to get the humanitarian aid are the civilians, not the militaries. So you protect the civilians how you can.

Mr. Laxton discusses Canadian diplomacy, diverting a retaliatory bombardment away from civilian targets.

David Laxton

Mr. Laxton was born into a military family in New Westminster, British Columbia, in 1955. He enlisted in the army in 1975, knowing that it meant he could provide for his young family. Mr. Laxton's first unit was the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) (LdSH(RC)) an armoured unit in Calgary. His first UN posting was to Egypt in 1978/79 where he was promoted to MCpl. In 1984 he went to the Mapping and Charting Establishment (MCE) and trained as a topographical surveyor and obtained a specialty in Terrain Analyst. In 1994 Mr. Laxton led the first terrain team to the tactical level when deployed with the Canadian contingent of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Bosnia. He served two tours of duty there, 1994 and 1995. After leaving the service, Mr. Laxton settled in Whitehorse, Yukon, where he is currently employed by the Territorial government as a GIS specialist.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
David Laxton
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Lord Strathcona's Horse
Armoured Crewman Terrain Analyst / Topographical Surveyor

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