Past and present members of the Canadian Armed Forces were honoured Friday morning during a ceremony at London’s Royal Canadian Regiment Museum on Oxford Street.
Officials from the City of London joined Canada Company, the 31 Canadian Brigade Group, the Department of National Defence and the London Heritage Council to unveil the newest LAV III monument, which honours the service and sacrifice of the Canadian Armed Forces in peacekeeping missions, including the conflict in Afghanistan.
The family of Trooper Mark Wilson was in attendance at the ceremony. Wilson, a 39-year-old Londoner, was killed in October 2006 by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.
His brother, Sean Wilson, told 980 CFPL that the monument recognizes the sacrifices made by Canadians like Mark.
“Some are a little biased, thinking this represents a war machine, but it was a great idea to have these as monuments because it was such a big part of our mission over in Afghanistan trying to help the citizens of Afghanistan,” Sean said.
The monument is part of Canada Company’s LAV III Monument Program, which provides demilitarized replicas of light-armoured vehicles (LAV) to communities across Canada in recognition of the 40,000 soldiers who have served in Canadian peacekeeping missions, including the conflict in Afghanistan.
Wilson said it means so much that London is honouring Mark’s sacrifice with a monument made from the same kind of vehicle in which he spent a significant amount of time while serving overseas.
“It is an honour that this LAV is here, recognizing all past and present soldiers, but it’s also nice that London singled out Mark, which is a great honour to us,” he said. “We didn’t expect it, we didn’t ask for it, but it is nice that Mark is being recognized.”
“The goal of the LAV III Monument Program is to recognize our modern-day veterans with a modern-day monument, which marks the end of the latest chapter in our military legacy,” said Canada Company founder Blake C. Goldring.
London has significant connections to the LAV III Monument Program. The vehicles used by the Canadian Army are built by General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) in London.
To turn the LAV IIIs into monuments, the turrets and hulls are welded at London’s Militex Coatings by welding students from Fanshawe College.
The monument will remain in the Wolseley Barracks of the Royal Canadian Regiment Museum’s outdoor display area. London’s LAV III monument is one of 33 approved to be erected across the country.