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How far’d you get?

Heroes Remember

How far’d you get?

We were unloading the gear from the truck and the, and the Colonel came down. And I'd met the Colonel a number of times, so I wasn't surprised at all. And he said, "You're here. I got lots of work. Get set up. How long's it gonna take?" And, so, we started going in and just trying to figure out what to do and what was going on. And one of the first things I did is . . . I just established myself in the Colonel's O-group. The orders group was a large table. All of his commanders sit around the table with the RSM, and the RSM is traditionally and normally the only NCO there. The rest are all officers, and the gallery around along the wall And the guys I was working with were the intelligence guys, and they were Strathconas, as well. And they would come in and do the intelligence briefing, and they would leave, and that was their part of the, of the stuff. So, the first day, I was sitting there, and I picked my spot carefully. I sat so that when the Colonel turned his head, I was in his peripheral vision. The RSM came in and nodded at me, the orders group went on, and he assumed I was there to do a presentation. He didn't ask me what I was there for, and orders were finished and we all left, and I hadn't done a presentation, said anything, done anything. So, the next day I was sitting there the same thing happened. The third day, the RSM came and said, "Why are you here?" I said, "It's my job to be here." He said, "Why?" I said, "I need to know what the Colonel is thinking and wanting to do, so I can create products and anticipate, in anticipation of what the tasks are. And if I don’t know what's going on, I can't do my job." He said, "Fair enough." And there were a number of times, when as the Colonel would give his orders, he would go around the gallery, questions comments. And he would come to me, and I would have a comment or question. One that really made the difference, the big stick my neck out and get my head cut off or survive, we'll find out here in a second, the Colonel had said to B Squadron Commander, that he wanted to go up onto a plateau area called Sremska (inaudible). And he was anticipating that there was a battle gonna happen up there, and he wanted to have a look at it. We'd had three days of rain. So when it came around to questions, the Colonel said, came to me and, "Questions, comments?" And pointed at me, and I said, "Yes sir. Are you planning on taking a wheel vehicle or a track vehicle when you go up on Sremska?" He said, "Why? What difference does it make?" "Well, sir, it's very dangerous, and I would actually recommend that not go. I recommend that we don't send anybody up there. The roads are cut very poorly. They're high on the, on the bank side and they drop off to a very steep bank and cliff. The, they're not prepared roads, they're predominantly silt and, and, and clay. So, they're gonna be very slick with three days of rain." He said, "Okay, Sergeant Laxton, when do you suggest we go?" "Well, the weather report says the rain's supposed to subside this afternoon, so I would give it two days to dry, two to three days to dry out. Wednesday would be a good day." And he turned and looks across the table at the engineer officer, and the engineer officer just gave a slight nod, Major Lewis. And said, turned back, said, "Very well. With Sergeant Laxton's permission, B Squadron will go up on . . . Wednesday, was it Sergeant Laxton?" So we left there, and the Colonel went off and did his thing, and I was off working, and just before supper time, I tracked down the Colonel's driver. And I just asked him a quick question. "How far'd you get?" He said, "Not far." I said, "Yes." So, that was the, that was a big turning point because it actually proved the fact that I needed to be there and then, now sort of proving the products and stuff that we could produce.

Mr. Laxton describes gaining the confidence of the command group by proving the value of terrain analysis.

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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