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The kids are really hard...

Heroes Remember

The kids are really hard...

I've seen lots of bodies, and I don't get upset about seeing them. It doesn't make me happy, either. But when you look at a. . . . one day, you drive by and there's a soccer field. The next day there's more graves than you could possibly count, and they're still burying people. And you do body exchanges and you take people, you know, return bodies to one side or the other. You don't get desensitized to it. You just find a way of dealing with it, but when it's a kid who's never, never done anything, isn't old enough to know how to do anything, but he's in an environment that's extremely dangerous. As soon as you look at one, what's the first thing you see? Your child, you know. And even if you don't have kids, you see your friends' kids and that, and you see a kid, you just see a kid. And it's not a Bosnian kid it's not a Serb kid, it's just a kid. It's not an Egyptian kid, it's just a kid. And you look at the way they're dressed and you know, some are well dressed, some aren't, and some are really needy, and some are pretty, pretty well off. Well, but they're a kid, and their world's been torn apart and they're, they're not learning a really good lesson, a life lesson or a, or a world lesson. That's what makes the job, I wouldn't say rewarding, but it, it brings reward to it, that in hopes that you can, you can change this situation that these kids are in, and maybe because of your efforts, they'll see that, that's not what the world's supposed to be. It's not all conflict. And that as they get older, they'll remember that and have hope and . . . for the future. You could say that, yeah, I guess rewarding is probably the right word for that. But the kids are really hard on you. I was standing at, next to a school, and this was well into the tour, and there was a playground. This school later was where the, some of the Vandoos that were taken hostage in '96, that's were they were . . I'm sorry in '95 that's where they were held. And we were negotiating to put an observation post on top of it and that. But I was there, I was standing there, and a young boy came up and was asking me different questions. We have small scopes on our rifles and, "Sniper? Sniper?" And this little kid, twelve, maybe ten, ten, twelve years old, he was all enthral, enthused about me having a scope on there and possibly being a sniper, because that's what he wanted to be. He wanted to be a sniper, and he wanted to shoot the people on the other side. I told him that I wasn't a sniper, and that it was better to not have a gun and be peaceful. But I left there, and I was walking around and looking at the playground. They had basketball hoops and that. And a couple of kids came in and they started playing around in there, and I noticed where they were playing, that there were the splash patterns of, of mortar shells in there. And that, that kinda, that was, that was upsetting 'cause kids shouldn't have to play in places that, that happens.

Mr. Laxton describes the plight of children in the war zone.

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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