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Somebody has cold hands

Heroes Remember

Somebody has cold hands

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But we got shot at, too. People would drive by our camp and throw grenades over the fence or spray their machine gun over top of the building in celebration or just to see if we'd do something. The warring factions would try and get the UN engaged in, in their fights. The classic scenario is, you're in your observation sights and whatever side, you're there... Somebody has cold hands, it's cool out. So they take their weapon, normallyan AK-47, and they stick it up over the trench and they go brrrr . . . brrrrr . . . brrrrr . . . couple rounds, and then they wrapped their hands around the barrel, warm up their hands. Well, the guy on the other side's gotta do something. He just can't be, you know . . . you, you can't shoot at me without me shooting back. So, he does the same thing. And then the other guy fires a few more rounds, and then there's a few more rounds, then it's a machine gun, then it's an, it's an RPG-7 and that's how these things escalate. We actually had an incident where observation post was up and the guys were, had two vehicles, two tow vehicles, and they had a tent just below the crust line. Then they . . . the crap started. And they started shooting at one of the vehicles, and the rounds were bouncing off the vehicle. So the Sergeant said, "This is escalating. We're gonna get the guys out of the tent, into the vehicles where, where they're safe." So, a young corporal was in the vehicle, and he had his direction. He knew what his orders were. He knew what the rules of engagement were. Sergeant left the vehicle and was getting the other guys in, into it, and this bunker fired at the vehicle again, and the rounds hit the vehicle. So, he fired a short burst right over top of the bunker, and they fired back. They were trying to get us confused of who we were shooting at and start taking on one side or the other, and that was the whole motive. So, he fired over top, and they fired back. And he fired in front, and they fired back. And he fired into it, and it stopped. The Sergeant reported all this. The liaison officers headed off and as soon as this thing started, our liaison officers were down to the headquarters, to get everybody to stop doing stuff. The UNMOs went up. They had a little place they used to go watch over things. The UNMOs are in a different spot because they’re not armed at all. They, they were watching. We fired some night illumination from our camp, over top of that. And the guys withdrew the vehicles and back down, and we weren't allowed up there for three days. And when we were allowed up there . . . the rifle ranges in Canada aren't that clean. There was no brass. There was nothing, nothing on that ridge line. And according to both sides, nothing happened that day. But the UNMOs said they saw three bodies being taken out of the bunker. The rules of engagement are very clear. If you can positively identify who's shooting at you, you defend yourself and, and your equipment. So, everything was done right according to the rules. The result was trajic.

Mr. Laxton describes provocation, escalation and the deadly consequences of following the rules of engagement.

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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