The Afghanistan bridge vigils left deep impressions on reservist Bill Walker.
“It was incredibly moving,” he said. “I remember being there and wanting to do something more than just have a yellow bumper sticker that says ‘Support our Troops.’”
Witnessing the return of the coffins of Canadian soldiers from a bridge over Hwy 401 made Walker realize his own connection to military service and sacrifice.
Bill Walker, 56, looks back at his father’s career as an aircraft engineer in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. Paired with the sentimental moment experienced on that bridge with his family, Walker decided to join the reserve force of the Canadian military.
“Training was very demanding,” Walker said. “But you understand that it’s nothing personal. They’re training you to react to the situation.”
Howard Walker, 88, remembered his own experiences as an aircraft engineer. In 1941, he joined the Air Force. He was trained in aircraft engineering mechanics and became part of the aircrew working near Moncton, N.S.
“I was nervous,” Howard Walker said. “Once you put your name down you don’t know what you’re going to do.”
Howard Walker recalled the positive moments in the military when he would receive a letter from his family.
“It was nice to get a letter,” he said. “It reminds you that you’re not alone.”
Bill Walker is now in the Canadian Reserve Forces, Ontario Regiment, Armoured Reconnaissance. He feels honoured to continue the legacy started by his grandfather and continued by his father Howard Walker.
“There’s a family legacy in the military,” Bill Walker said. “As a reservist, my focus is split between civilian and military life.”
Howard Walker has mixed feelings about his son’s desire to serve in the military.
“I really don’t want him to go,” Howard Walker said. “But that’s up to him.”
Howard and Bill Walker attend the Remembrance Day ceremony held at Centennial College every year. For the father it is a time to remember his formidable experiences and for the son it is a reminder of his family’s legacy and to carry on that legacy.