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I'll find another task, then

Heroes Remember

I'll find another task, then

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The Colonel had another task for Recce Squadron, to locate a mine field and a crossing points on the Bosnia river, so we could support the repair of the power line from Command down to Sarajevo. And he said, "Talk to Sergeant Laxton before you go." Well, Major wasn't really keen on having to ask a Sergeant for assistance, so as the orders group broke up, he said, "Sergeant Laxton, I have to go talk to the Colonel, when I come back, you have thirty seconds." So, I grabbed Master Corporal Dowling, Dave, and I said, "Power line crosses the highway. We need to know about the river and the mine fields." And I turned to the, one of the Ops people, and I said, "You get the mine field stuff. Get it for me now. Dave, can you get out the rivers?" And we quickly got out the stuff, we put it together and we had about two minutes to summarize everything we were looking at. The Major came over and he's, and he was ordered by the Colonel to come and talk to me, so he wasn't gonna go break that, but he wasn't gonna make it easy on me either. And I said, "There are no crossing points on, on the river. The banks are too steep and need too much preparation work. The, the current is too strong, and the bottom is, is mud and silt, and there's not enough water to float our vehicles. The mine field is located here. This is where the, the power line is. There's another mine field here, we suspect. We suspect there's a mine field there. We have information on this. And here are the over watch points for the Serbs and the Bosnians, and that . . . and he looked at it. He turned around and the Colonel happened to be in the hallway, and he said, "Sergeant Laxton informs me there's no place to cross the river and there's mine fields." He said, Colonel said, "I'll find another task, then." And it was that simple. I had proven myself now, and the Major was upset because he was looking for . . . but, he got another tasking. And we had to find observation posts for two squadrons, so I tasked Dave to look after one of the squadrons, and I looked after the other one, and we did our magic with our things. And up until this point, the way it had been done traditionally and in the past, was the CO or the person in charge, would sit down with a map. And they would do their best map recce, and that, and they would look at a point, and say, "I think from there, I should be able to see this." And they knew roughly where the warring factions were and where things were located, and what they wanted to over watch. So then you, once you've done that, then you have to go to the war infractions, and you have to say, "I want to go here, and look at this. And I want to go over here and look at this." And, and get their permission, and once both sides agree that you're allowed to go, then you go back to the side that has the route in and you negotiate when you can go there. And we actually ended up with an observation point that had been established by the group before us. Had a great view of Sarajevo, wonderful You could see the ski hills and, and the arena and everything else was just skyline. But they couldn't see what was going on a hundred feet in front of them, which was what they really needed and wanted to see. So, we did our thing, and we picked points, and we went out, and we negotiated to go to these points. And I went along with them and that. And we got asked by the warring factions, "How did you pick this point?" And I'd been told by the Colonel to . . . I was allowed to tell people what my job was, and how, what I did, but not necessarily how I did it and where I got the information from, because it is still classified. So, we would actually say, they would say, "Well, Sergeant Laxton picked the, picked the point." And I'd say, "I'm a, I'm a terrain analyst. I do terrain evaluations and, and ways of measuring things and that, and that's why I picked this point." And it turned out every point that I had picked, was one that they had also picked.

Mr. Laxton describes applying terrain analysis in the field.

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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