It seems I had my head burried under a rock in December... I just found out about the loss of WO Wilson while on a tour of CEFCOM this weekend. We were brought to a large room that featured what was called the "wall of heroes". The wall had the picture of each soldier lost in Afghanistan to date. I made it a point to look at each and every picture and was shocked when I got to the second last one on the wall, WO Wilson.
I didnt know him very well, he was the course WO on my PLQ in the summer of 2007 (a Sgt at the time), but from what I saw of him, and the few times I managed to be able to speak with him one on one, he was most certainly in my opinion, an outstanding example of NCO leadership. He made it a point of treating his troops well. He wasnt a tyrant, as another mentioned he was soft spoken but was no pushover.
One night while in the field, I had to be rushed to the hospital. When I woke up, WO Wilson was there waiting for me. He stayed in the hospital until I was released and he drove me back to Pet. On our way back we were speaking about army stuff. He told me that being a section commander in the infantry was the best job anyone could ever have. He also said that being in the army was not a job or a career, it was a lifestyle choice.
He was firm, fair and flexible. He was a model to me and the other candidates at the time. I had been on leadership courses before, and it was rare to hear about one of the NCOs spoken of so well, at least not until after the course was over. But the troops on that course on a regular basis made it very clear of their positive feelings towards WO Wilson.
I regret my tardiness to this thread, but I wanted to share my experiences with WO Wilson none the less.
I had the great honor of being friends with Dip, and every once in a while I'll be going through pictures and I'll stumble across something like him trying to put on girls booty shorts hammered. Good times. Rest in peace.
I know this is a super old thread, but I found it after doing some googling the night before Remembrance Day and wanted to pass along a story about Mark. I’ve never met him but I put my poppy on his grave every year, and I plan to do the same tomorrow.
I’m a former reservist from Nova Scotia, serving in Bosnia and Afghanistan. I served with the The 2RCR BG in the Summer of 2007, arriving after Op Medusa. I had two friends killed on that tour, Kevin Megeny and Chris Stannix. I’d attended Remembrance Day ceremonies since I was a kid, and several in uniform to that point, but it wasn’t the same for me after Afghanistan. It was harder for the hard memories, but yet easier because I had a group of people I served with, specifically from -that- tour around me. Different units/jobs, but the same Roto.
I moved to Ottawa several years after my tour in Afghanistan, releasing pretty quickly thereafter, and I immediately noticed a difference that first Remembrance Day. I remember staying at home my first year. I felt a little overwhelmed by the thought of going to Beechwood or the National War Memorial, and didn’t want to be somewhere where I didn’t know anyone. I did eventually attend a ceremony at each in different years, and also a ceremony at the Westboro cenotaph. That was nice, and much more like the small town ceremonies I was used to.
Then on a year I went to Beechwood, I came across Mark’s grave and remembered his name. One of my best friends from back home was also a reservist. He’d spend time with the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment and had told me a bunch of stories about Mark and how his death had impacted him. His pain had resonated with me and my experience of loss, and something stuck. At the end of the ceremony I poured out some of the contents of my flask, and left my poppy on his grave. I took a picture of Mark’s grave with the poppy and sent it to my friend, to say ‘All is in good order, I poured your mate a drink and let him know he’s not forgotten.’
I’ve been doing this for the past several years now. I leave my poppy, pour him a shot and send a picture to my friend. My friend told me last year that he’s been sharing my pictures with his regimental network and the family. That makes me happy and I’m happy to keep doing it as long as I can. Again, I’ve never met the man, but I respect what he did and the clear impact he had on my friend. I’ll keep doing it for Mark’s family, whom I’m likely never to meet, but I realized I’ve also been doing it for myself.
Tonight I realized that I’ve been honouring Mark not just for him; it’s also for my friends. I was at both ramp ceremonies and we sent them home, but I never did get to pour a dram of Kevin or Chris’s graves. Being with people I’d served with who also knew them and also felt that loss made things bearable. Moving to Ottawa disconnected me from that. So, to me, putting a poppy on Mark’s grave is a way of connecting with Kevin and Chris, and honour them as well.
So, for those of you who served with Cpl McLearn or was a friend or relation outside of that, please know that there’s a guy who checks in with him every Nov 11th, and will continue to do so.