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We watched a real war going on

Heroes Remember

We watched a real war going on

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Myself and Dave were on the, the third rotation in, the third flight, and so the Colonel was already there and had things going on. And the Colonel didn't . . . he tasked off figuring out who came on what plane, as for the various requirements and how they wanted it organized and stuff, and we didn't really fit and, and nobody knew what we were to do. They didn't know what we were, we were doing at all. They didn't know what a terrain analysis was. Most of them never heard of mapping and charting establishment or anything like that. So, we're getting off the plane in, in Split, Croatia, and I stepped out of the doorway onto the staircase, and Warrant Officer, Kevin Mulhern, was at the bottom. "Laxton!" "Hey, Kevin. What's up?" "Get down here! Where's your partner? Where's your gear? Colonel wants to see you today!" We, we were in Croatia. We still had to get to outside Sarajevo, that"s a long way to go. We didn't make it that day. But we were issued flak jackets, helmets, rifles, ammunition, and our gear was loaded into two jeeps, and Dave was in one, I was in the other. And the next morning, we, we headed off in . . . we went through Mostar, and as we went through Mostar, we were looking at the mine fields and the bombed out buildings and the people that were out of homes and kids on the streets. And as we got part way through Mostar, the Serbs started firing into the city, and Croats started firing out, and the Bosnians on the other hill started shooting in, into the city and up on to the hill on the other side. And we drove through as all this was happening. Got up on the top of a hill and stopped and looked around and watched a real war going on. It was . . . okay, it's kinda like being on the football team and sitting on the bench for many years, and all of sudden the coach says, "Get in there." The game's on, and you know, you're, you're in the middle of it. We got to the camp, and as we arrived in the camp, a helicopter landed, bringing in the bodies of two military observers, two UNMOs, that had been killed in a mortar attack, that they had been unfortunately caught in. So, it was . . .it became very real, very fast.

Mr. Laxton describes landing in Bosnia and viewing first hand the reality of war.

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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