It was a tense, heart-stopping moment in Larry Minor’s house when he and his wife learned that a Canadian soldier had been killed in Afghanistan in October.
Minor’s son, Michael, is on his second tour there. As a colonel in the Canadian Forces, he is one of the personnel responsible for training the Afghan army.
“We were glued to the TV watching for news,” Minor said. “We worried because we heard it was from the training unit.”
Fortunately, Minor’s son was OK. But Minor, a part-time Campus Security guard, knows a thing or two about what it’s like to serve his country.
Minor is one of a small handful of Campus Security officers who have spent time in the service. Minor, who works night shifts patrolling the campus, spent 36 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The Wainfleet native had a love of airplanes that dated back to childhood, when Harvard planes would fly low over his family farm. “I had seven aunts,” he said, “so I think they were interested in taking a look.”
He joined the air force in 1954 when he was 17 years old. He spent much of his career working with theNorth American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), serving at small radar bases from Colorado to Thunder Bay. His first transfer was to a base on the north end of Vancouver Island in 1955, where one of his more memorable experiences occurred. His crew picked up blips on the radar that looked like aircraft traveling 1,200 knots – faster than anything could travel at that time.
“We thought we’d picked up UFOs,” he said. “That was the only explanation we could think of for why it was traveling that fast.” In the end, it was sunspots.
Minor retired about 20 years ago as a chief warrant officer, but like most former military members, it will never leave his blood. When he meets military personnel past or present, there’s instant camaraderie.
“You see the same thing with fire fighters and police officers. It’s a brotherhood,” he said. “I was an only child. I like to say I joined the air force to have a second family.”
Minor gets the same feeling now working in Campus Security. In fact, when he arrived at Brock 20 years ago, he saw parallels. The recreation centre reminded him of the air force. Residence reminded him of barracks.
“I thought ‘Boy, have I found the perfect retirement job,’” he said. “And it has been. I love the kids. They keep me young after all these years.”
Even though Minor served during peacetime, Remembrance Day strikes a deep chord in him. Every Nov. 11, he attends the service in his hometown of Port Colborne. When he can’t do that, “I take time out to myself to reflect.”
Minor fears younger generations losing their sense of history – not only our military history, but our country’s history in general. Remembrance Day is an important reminder of it, he said. His message to the Brock community – “Take the time.”
As for his son, part of him always remains on guard.
“We’re always worried, and we’re going to be worried until he comes home.”
Brock’s Remembrance Day ceremony
When: 10:50 a.m. Nov. 11
Where: Ian Beddis Gymnasium
What: Aboriginal drumming, readings from sacred text and a wreath laying ceremony