No re­grets for mil­i­tary man

It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber, says CAF vet­eran

The Beacon (Gander) - - Front Page - BY CLARENCE NGOH clarence.ngoh@gan­der­bea­con.ca

GAN­DER, NL – Lew Pearce’s ca­reer in the Cana­dian Armed Forces be­gan on July 19, 1963 when he and his friends de­cided to join the army.

“Fol­low­ing your peers was the nor­mal thing to do in the 1960s,” said Pearce, and there was no re­gret in that choice af­ter serv­ing for 28 years.

“Life was pretty good – I got to see parts of the world that I would never have seen, and it pro­vided a liv­ing for me and my fam­ily,” Pearce said.

And that meant the fam­ily moved when Pearce had a new post­ing, which oc­curred ev­ery three years, tak­ing him to most parts of Canada but also on peacekeeping mis­sions in Cyprus and Egypt.

With a young fam­ily in tow, Pearce’s wife Rita found it es­pe­cially chal­leng­ing when her hus­band was away on ex­tended mis­sions.

“Our youngest was sick for the first year of his life. So, when he was away, it was a lot (to deal with). We de­pended on our friends and neigh­bours – you had to, right?

“And when he came back, you’re like, thank God, but then he would be in­ter­fer­ing with things you’ve al­ready changed,” Rita laughed.

Pearce spent the first three years in the in­fantry divi­sion, but ap­plied for a trade trans­fer to some­thing me­chan­i­cal.

“I was sick of dig­ging fox­holes,” Pearce chuck­led, and adds, “I wanted a civil­ian trade, and be­ing in in­fantry, there was no trade – you are a foot sol­dier. I chose me­chan­i­cal be­cause I al­ways liked work­ing on trucks and cars. I did that for 25 years.”

The hours were long and tax­ing, but Pearce ac­knowl­edged that ba­sic train­ing pre­pared the sol­diers phys­i­cally and men­tally. “Ba­sic train­ing was de­signed to push you to your lim­its – to go fur­ther than what you think you can do, and still do the job. You learn that you will never give up,” Pearce said.

“Some­times you go 24 hours with­out sleep, some­times longer. But you did learn to cope with it. You learn to adapt – your body does not want to, but you al­ways fin­ish your job first, and sleep af­ter.”

Pearce re­called sev­eral proud mo­ments in his ca­reer. He was part of the hon­our guard for the Queen when she was in Char­lot­te­town, and part of the pa­rade at the change of flag cer­e­mony when Canada went from fly­ing the Union Jack to the Maple Leaf. He was part of the chang­ing of the guard in Ot­tawa.

As Re­mem­brance Day draws near, Pearce be­lieves it’s im­por­tant for sto­ries of war vet­er­ans be heard “so that you don’t make the same mis­takes.” “Re­mem­brance Day is re­mem­ber­ing what hap­pened – re­mem­ber­ing your friends, and friends that have passed on,” he said. “It is an act of re­mem­brance. The poppy that you put on the war me­mo­rial – that is your act of re­mem­brance.”

CLARENCE NGOH/THE BEA­CON

Lew Pearce served in the Cana­dian Armed Forces for 28 years, and re­tained the rank of sergeant. He is pic­tured with his wife Rita.

CLARENCE NGOH/THE BEA­CON

Lew Pearce served in many parts of Canada, as well as peacekeeping mis­sions in Cyprus and Egypt in his 28 years of ser­vice in the armed forces. He keeps him­self busy with vol­un­teer work at the Le­gion and the Ma­sonic Or­der.

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