Service before self.
While Sgt. Glenn Duffield and Bob Anderson’s battle experiences were a generation apart on their respective battlefields, both lived by those words.
But they are also the same words many of their fellow comrades died by in the service of their country.
For Duffield, now 46, the real significance of the phrase didn’t hit home until his term with the Canadian Forces in 2009/10 in Afghanistan.
No matter what the physical conditions
were, or the mental stress of fearing for his life day and night, or seeing the military and civilian casualties, the focus was always on getting the job done.
“Our whole purpose over there was to tr
y and bring stability to the district in Kandahar province (Afghanistan). That’s what we were there to do,” said Duffield, who was a member of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) armoured regiment. “You were constantly on guard because you just didn’t know what was going to happen, you had to be constantly watching, you didn’t let your guard down, you couldn’t b
ecause you had a mission to accomplish.”
Working now as BC Dragoons regimental quarter master, the veteran was the guest speaker at the Penticton Secondary School Remembrance Day ceremonies held Nov. 10.
According Duffield, Remembrance Day, while it was always a somber, and important day, but it took on a much greater significance after his tour of duty.
“It means so much more now, it’s so personal; that’s what Remembrance Day has become,” he said. “After I came back the first few (Remembrance services) were really hard, they were really hard. It’s one of those days where you look at the guys you’re standing with and you feel a lot of pride. It’s when you go home afterward that find that you’re still reflecting and takes me about a good solid week to get over it.”
The flashbacks for him were the kids brought to the military medical facilities after stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED) or the injured Canadians rolling through the forward base camps to be airlifted by helicopter and sent a ticket home.
“Every single (Remembrance) day that I’ve been back now, when you hear the pipes playingAmazing Grace … I don’t think anybody’s who’s got that Afghan campaign star on their chest, I don’t think there’s a dry eye,” said Duffield. “Talking to the students today I just want to instill some of that. I would just like them to, more than anything, walk up to a veteran, especially those in the Second World War and the Korean War and ask them about their medals, to take the two minutes and just say thanks or go to a Remembrance ceremony.”
Anderson, 93, also recalled the difficult conditions he faced while serving as a bomber pilot overseas in the Second World War.
“So many of our bombing (torpedo) missions we were flying were at night and we’d be just 50 feet over the water,” said Anderson, who spent three years at the controls of Wellington aircraft and more often than not, coming under enemy fire. “They would last six or seven hours but we were there to do a job and you did it.
“I think I’m one of the lucky ones. There were a lot crews that didn’t make it, so I feel privileged.”
He also participated in Remembrance ceremonies Tuesday, this one at Athens Creek Lodge, which he now calls home.
“I do think it is important to remember those people who did so much for all us, although there are a lot of things about the war I don’t want to remember and there is a lot of stuff I would never repeat,” he said. “There should never be war and then maybe we would not have to remember.”