Charles Reed Waring

Home Town: Duncan, B.C.

Training Division: “Depot”

Troop: TR. 5 1970/71

Regimental Number: 28120


Divisions Served: “F,” “G,” “A,” “HQ”

Medals & Honours: Long Service Medal with Silver Clasp

Pillar Location: Pillar IX, Row 23, Column F



On the 28th day of April 1970, I was sworn into the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and assigned the regimental number 28120. The number was to become my unique identifier for the rest of my life and a tether to my experiences in the Force. I am a veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and I remember.

The leaving of all that was familiar behind. I left for Regina in the last days of a cool spring. As I gazed out the window of the rail car at the snow capped mountains, I pondered what might lie ahead. I was headed to recruit training, and my life was about to be inexplicably changed and intertwined with the lives of thirty-one other young men. Although I sensed the coming change, I had little understanding how profound that change was to be. I remember.

The first December. With resolve and in the company of other armed men, I walked miles of bush trails and prairie stubble. It was a long winter manhunt to find the killer of two of our own. I carried a Winchester model 70, a long rifle. I was confident, my grip was firm and my sight lines were clear. I remember.

The call for assistance which came on a hot July day. There had been a drowning. I dove day after day deep in the inky black water of an abandoned reservoir searching, seeking to bring home the remains of the young victim. In due course, to the sound of my scuba gear’s exhaust of bubbles, I rose to the surface with the sad burden of a lost life. Ahead was a family’s grief. I remember.

The seemingly endless night shifts of detachment life. During the quiet hours, the time was filled with checking on the prisoners in the cells, catching up on the paper work and keeping the coffee pot hot. Without warning, the typewriter’s key strokes would be interrupted with the urgency of a call to attend a wreck on the highway, an assault in the tavern, a break and enter in the sporting goods store. Later, when the note taking was completed, the exhibits locked away, and the arrest report filed, but before the fatigue took over, the uniform needed attention. Soak the blood stain with cold water, wipe away the vomit, extract the shards of glass. End of shift, now sleep. I remember.

The early dawn of a spring morning. It’s planting season. I made the drive to the elderly couple’s farm. I walked between the freshly planted vegetable garden and the old windmill, up the path to the sunlit veranda and found the front door. My knock on that door preceded the delivery of a teletype message that would shatter their lives. The last words they spoke to me as I left, were “Thank you”. I remember.

The first sun rise after months of darkness. The upper edge of the sun illuminating the tundra of the high arctic in the cold still air of 50 below as my patrol came to an end. My frost bitten cheeks, and frozen eyelashes were the reminders of a search for a missing hunter, lost on the sea ice miles from landfall. He was found. His snow machine had failed and he was walking home. Had we rescued him, or simply given him a ride to his warm house? It didn’t matter. Life there was different. The City lights, paved roads, fresh vegetables and barber shops of the southern cities were a long, long distance away. I remember.

The bride and the groom speaking their vows in a maritime church. The groom and I wore red serge and I carried the ring. In time there would be children, but they would never see him grow old. His name is inscribed in the granite of The Honour Role. I remember.

The blur of a long succession of sensitive assignments. Secrets never to be revealed. Family and friends never to be confided in. Reality, and cover stories, one blending into the other. I remember.

The years of duty in faraway places. The streets of Belfast with its grey alleys and restored shop fronts, once bomber’s targets. The ragged green skyline where the high mountain jungle canopy of Colombia hid the heroin producing poppy fields from the eyes on board the rotary wing gunship. The blood red sun sinking below the haze obscured city of Port au Prince and it’s poverty, orphans and violence riddled slums. I remember.

The file marked 28120. It reports “post traumatic stress injury”. The long ago, diffused white light of the operating room, the surgeon’s cryptic commands, the nurses’ masks, all crowded out by the shadows of imagined menace. Followed by the relentless dreams. The physical damage would heal but the phantoms would remain as unwelcome companions. I remember.

The ceremonial parades with the ringing of spurs. In the void of loss, the rank and file move forward. A red tide, the soles of long brown boots touch down on the pavement in unison. The flag draped coffins, and the sound of the bugle. Like coats of new paint over old, the new grief was layered over the grief of the past. I remember.

The gathering of colleagues and a sharing of histories. The raising of glasses. “Salut”, the finish of a career in service. As always my spouse and friend Louise, near at hand, waits as she has always done. We turn for home and the rest of life. I remember.

The half century, now passed. I can no longer summon the physical skills that were honed that spring and summer in training. My eyes have clouded and there is a small tremor which has taken up residence in my hand. The blunt diagnosis, “Age”. Now, slowed and grey, I stay close to my rural property where the early morning light gives way to the flocks of geese in the spring and again in the fall.

I am a veteran and this is my story. I remember.