Former Minister of Veterans Affairs, Erin O’Toole, business leaders and families of the fallen from the Durham region of Ontario are rallying support for a Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) III Monument in their community to honour those that served in the Afghanistan Conflict.
“Canada Company, working with some people like retired General Dave Fraser, have come up with this important way that allows communities to recognize and remember the Afghanistan mission, which was the longest single mission the CAF has served in,” said O’Toole.
The Durham project is one of several LAV III Monument projects across the country administered by Wounded Warriors Canada.
The program launched in November 2014, when O’Toole was serving as Minister of Veterans Affairs. He helped to announce the first LAV III Monument awarded to the community of Oromocto and Fredericton on June 19, 2015.
This inspired O’Toole, and other members of the Durham community, to rally support for their own monument and honour the estimated 100 individuals from the region who served in the War in Afghanistan.
The group has also secured a spot next to the Highway of Heroes to commemorate the “important rally of Canadians during repatriation.”
“Our LAV monument will have a dual purpose. It will have a national purpose, in terms of the Highway of Heroes and commemorating that. It will also have a local purpose, which is commemorating and honouring the service of people from our community,’ stated O’Toole.
To raise awareness about the project, an official launch and fundraising reception will be held June 2 at the R.S. McLaughin Armoury and will be attended by retired General Rick Hillier.
The monuments are created from decommissioned LAV III hulls donated by the Government of Canada. A LAV is made of steel, supported by an 8-wheel drive suspension and powered by a 6-cylinder 350 horsepower diesel engine. The vehicle holds up to ten passengers and can reach speeds of 100 km/h. The LAVs, once decommissioned, are stripped of their weaponry engine, steering, and communications and lighting systems. The unit is then sandblasted, all access areas are welded shut, remounted to its eight tire assembly and then repainted. The monuments are being constructed by Militex Coating Inc. and Fanshawe College students in London, Ontario.
“I think the LAV is the iconic vehicle from the Afghanistan mission. It was certainly used to protect our men and women from IEDs, and it became that sort of vehicle that was associated with the mission,” mentioned O’Toole.
The Durham community hopes to unveil their monument on Sept. 24 of this year; in time with the first Highway of Heroes Bike Ride of Wounded Warriors Canada.
The bikers will leave from Trenton on Sept. 24 and will rest after the first day of riding in Durham.
“Our plan is the bike riders of the Heroes Ride conclude their first day of riding simultaneously with our unveiling of the monument. That’s what were shooting for,” stated O’Toole.
Photo courtesy of lavmonument.ca