Straight out of high school in 1997, Langley boy David Scrivens joined the Canadian military. His first choice was to be an RCMP, but they weren’t hiring at the time, so Scrivens made an almost 20-year career out of trips overseas, learning, teaching, and now recruiting.
“My first tour, I was 19. I was in Bosnia on a peacekeeping operation.”
David Scrivens described his peacekeeping missions as a lot like what an RCMP officer would do in Langley.
“I went there and patrolled a lot,” noted Scrivens. “I was excited my first time. I was young… it was an opportunity for me to see if I wanted to join the forces full time.”
Surprisingly, it wasn’t until 2010 that he became full time, when he joined the Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre Pacific.
Those years in between gave Scrivens a lot of experiences to talk about.
“My actual job in the military is infantry,” he explained. “When we got there [Bosnia] everything is set up for you, which is good. The briefings scare the life out of you.”
He noted the biggest concern in Bosnia during his tour was the mines.
“No one can go in the woods and chop firewood because it’s all mines,” he explained.
When the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks occurred on the World Trade Centre in New York, Scrivens briefly thought about joining the American military. He wanted to go overseas to assist.
He stayed with the Canadian military, though, and did eventually go to Afghanistan in 2008 as a master corporal where he served for seven months.
“I got tons of vitamin D,” he said of his time in Afghanistan. “The first three months were awesome.”
After that first part of his tour, he took a brief vacation to spend time with his new wife. Upon returning, he said everything was different.
“My first day back, they informed me that a prison exploded and all the prisoners broke out,” Scrivens recounted.
It was his job to hunt them down.
From that point forward, he was in a firefight every day.
“Sometimes twice a day,” he said.
In one of those firefights, he was hit in the helmet by a 25mm canon shell. Fortunately, it hit him sideways – launched from an explosion – and not shot from a gun. It didn’t peirce his helmet.
His platoon had been ambushed and Scrivens was one of the lucky ones to make it out.
When asked if he was aware of how proud most Canadians are of the country’s troops for serving overseas, he said, “It’s always drilled into you, that Canadians are watching you. There’s a pride, satisfaction, when you’re just doing your day-to-day job.”
Scrivens felt that patriotism significantly when he carried the casket of Master Cpl. Colin Bason, a fellow member of the Royal Westminster unit, along the stretch of the local Highway of Heroes.
“It was awesome, seeing all the people there,” he said. “It helps.”
While not a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Scrivens is grateful for the work that legions do.
“The Legion helped me and I don’t think I can ever thank them enough.”
Scrivens received money from the poppy fund when his wife had cancer and the couple’s son was very young. The price for his wife’s medication was covered by that generosity.
Although uncertain exactly how he will spend this Remembrance Day, the service of those like Scrivens contributes to the pride of many Canadians.
PHOTO: David Scrivens has video of his time abroad, a stark contrast to his life in Walnut Grove.