Class of 1980 Buds,
So Brian Read and I have been up to no good … harkens back to being rook roommates that summer and fall of 1976. About six weeks ago he gave me a call asking for my opinion. Brian had just heard of a program being sponsored by Canada Company ( a group of “Captains of Industry” who provide support to Canadian Armed Forces members and their families https://www.canadacompany.ca/en/) whereby decommissioned Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) are being offered to communities as a way to recognize the Afghanistan mission http://lavmonument.ca/en/index.htmn . Brian suggested that this might be something that our Class could do for Kingston and its military community given our 35thwas coming up. Thinking about the idea for all of a few seconds, I said “brilliant”.
Brian had come up with something that seemed right to me on a number of planes:
– First and foremost there is a requirement to recognize the service and sacrifice of what arguably was the war of our generation. Over 40,000 Canadians served, 158 gave their lives. The Kingston military community saw significant service there including from both CFB Kingston and the Army Reserve regiment, Prince of Wales own Regiment (there may have been some from HMCS Cataraqui as well). Over the decade of our time in Afghanistan many hundreds of RMC grads served (including from our Class) and I believe three ex cadets were killed;
– Our 35th Reunion was coming up and although not necessary, it is kind of nice when Classes do stuff for the College. In that regard our Class is relatively poor in terms of funds. There are Classes who have funds in excess of $1 million, ours sits at about $50,000. The deduction is that if we are going to do something it would have to be modest from a money perspective. The LAV Monument would be relatively modest financially but high impact.
We had been holding off on passing on this whole idea until we determined whether it was even feasible. Well it looks like it is, although it will be a case of “hurry up battle procedure”. We have secured the very strong support of the Commandant, BGen Sean Friday. In fact, he has appointed an OPI and to a large degree the College will make the various things happen. The second step was to apply for one of the LAVs from Canada Company. I have attached our submission. Again this received strong support from the selection committee headed by MGen (Retd) Dave Fraser, who just happened to be my Commander in Afghanistan. So it looks like we have a LAV and probably for our Reunion Weekend. I met last week with BGen Friday’s OPI, LCol Corey Crosby, and they have chosen a site front and centre across from the Commmandant’s residence and between the naval gun and Centurion. They are working with CFB Kingston to confirm site approval and then contracting the necessary pad. Additionally, they are looking at whether the Base could transport the LAV from London using Base Transport and then have Base Maintenance install the vehicle. Finally, LCol Crosby has even come up with a backup plan that if the pad was not constructed in time that it could be temporarily placed adjacent “Bruce” on the 25 Pounder artillery piece pad (the latter would be sent out for painting). This would give us some profile at the Reunion and at a minimum be a great Class photo op.
So to the cost. Bottom-line up front, the full costs will be covered by a certain benefactor no matter what happens. That said, I believe to really make it a Class gift there is a need for the Class to contribute. Canada Company has estimated the costs for the LAV Monument as follows: LAV $15,000; pad $10,000 (design attached); and low bed transportation TBC. There would also be a requirement for a cairn with brass plaque or just brass plaque. The College would also expect our Class to maintain the Monument. Given that it is an armoured vehicle it would not be much. At most this would be every five years or so putting on a coat of paint. I figure a great activity for our five year Reunions until we are pushing 70 plus. Don’t laugh, I was the guy who put the Bailey Bridge in at the RMC entrance and that got painted by a group of Kingston Sappers in grubby clothes and a few cases of beer (seven years later it still looks fine). Once we are too old interest off our Foundation account would easily cover it. Like I said, our benefactor will pay BUT we should make this a Class thing. My proposal would be that each of us contribute $100 (or more if you want) on a one time basis. This would generate $10-20 K and at that stage we could certainly say that the Class owned the gift. The RMC Foundation is establishing an account for donations separate from our Class account. Details to be announced in my next email to you. Brian and I will be the first to have our $100 in. I would like to think you guys will make this grow.
I know this comes out of the blue but it was a case of “dynamic targeting”. There was a fleeting target of opportunity and we went for it. You basically know about this only days after we have confirmed the feasibility. The Executive Vice President of the RMC Foundation, Rod MacDonald, says that it is often a challenge to get Classes to work together in gifts to the College. I would like to think we are different and that we will all come behind this initiative. Much of it is cracked but would still like to hear your thoughts and hopefully positive ones.
Class of 1980 LOA with College and Foundation