REMEMBRANCE DAY: Brothers in uniform
On the desk of Capt. Rod Dearing in his second-floor office inside the McGill Road headquarters of the Rocky Mountain Rangers sits a baseball cap with two words embroidered on the front.
Dearing is proud of the hat. It was a gift for local soldiers who served in Afghanistan, given by the Kamloops branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
He often wears it while out and about in the community — a display of the service he didn’t think twice about providing his country in 2008 while serving in Afghanistan, or during his other overseas deployments in the 1990s in Cypress, Croatia and Kosovo.
But, Dearing said, that baseball cap will sometimes bring about weird looks from people.
“I walk around with that hat on, like I’ll be in the mall or something, and people just don’t know what to make of it,” he told KTW.
“It’s like, ‘I don’t understand, so I don’t want to deal with it.’
“I think it just doesn’t affect them personally, so they don’t know how to deal with it.”
It’s a far cry from the ticker-tape parades for soldiers returning home from the Second World War.
It’s not disdain, Dearing said, but it’s not adoration.
“You don’t need that celebration,” he said.
“You just need people to be respectful.”
That community-wide outward showing of respect will be on display, if only for a day, at Remembrance Day celebrations on Sunday, Nov. 11.
Dearing said Remembrance Day is special for all soldiers — even those still in the midst of their military careers.
“What it means to me is I remember the guys I served with who got injured, maimed or killed,” he said.
“I have a lot of friends that have died, so I think of them.
“Like Erin Doyle. The guy was a hero.”
Doyle, a master-corporal with the Canadian Forces, was killed on Aug. 11, 2008, while defending a combat outpost in Afghanistan.
Born and raised in Kamloops, Doyle was on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan when he died. His name was added to the Kamloops Cenotaph in May — the first addition to the local monument in 65 years.
Dearing knew Doyle personally and saw him weeks before his death.
“People don’t understand what he did,” Dearing said.
“He’s a real hero.”
On Sunday, Dearing will be thinking about Doyle and the other “brothers” he’s seen killed in action.
“I don’t have any brothers, but any brothers I do have are here [in the military],” he said.
“You’re brothers — you’re friends forever. It doesn’t matter what goes on.
“That’s the reason why I’m here in Kamloops today with my arms and legs — because of the loyalty of my men.”
Lt.-Col. Kevin Tyler, the commanding officer of the Rocky Mountain Rangers, said Remembrance Day is emotional on a number of levels.
“On a family level, I have an uncle who is alive who is a World War II veteran,” said Tyler, whose 33 years of service have taken him from Australia to Bosnia to Yellowknife and a lot of places in between.
“I’ve spent a couple of Remembrance Days where I’ve gone to Calgary and spent time with him.
“There’s also the personal aspect of some friends I’ve served with who have been killed in action.”
Tyler spent 13 months in Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009, leading an effort to build that country’s national police force.
He said it’s tough to compare Canadians’ reactions to Afghanistan to what happened after the Second World War and the Korean War.
“Afghanistan, being an insurgency, it’s not really as intense — as in the death rates or the casualty rates — as World War II or Korea,” he said.
“And, after a while, people do become immune to what’s going on over there.”