Petrolia native returns home to remember

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After 21 years in the military, Sgt. Michael Lebrascuer has fulfilled a dream to march in the annual Remembrance Day parade in his hometown.

And he says it was everything he hoped it would be.

Lebrascuer grew up in Petrolia, going to St. Philips and then LCCVI for his education. Somewhere along the line he decided to join Canada’s military. He served as an artillery man for the first five years and then signed up for the Air Force hoping to learn a trade.

He did and it has taken him around the world. Lebrascuer is an aviation technician and works on Canada’s fighter jets – the CF 18s.

He’s served in Iceland for Baltic air policing and in Sicily during the Libya campaign which saw the  country’s dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, ousted.

And he recently served six months in Kuwait, preparing Canada’s fighter jets to aid the Kurdish army in its fight against ISIS. That mission was recently cut short by the new federal government.

Home from his mission and nearing the end of his military career- Lebrascuer expects to put in about four more years – the Petrolia native decided it was time to be part of the local Remembrance Day events.

He walked proudly beside Legion members and others who had served and then stood while wreath upon wreath was laid.

It was a moment he had been waiting for, for a long time.

“It’s where I came from; you always want to come back and do a parade like this in your hometown,” says Lebrascuer.

His one regret – his good friend, Frank Stirrett, who was also a veteran, would not be there with him.

Stirrett passed away several years ago. “He never really talked to anybody else…but he used to tell me all kinds of things and compare it to what I was going through and I would say ‘its not even close.’”

Even without Stirrett’s presence, Lebrascuer was moved and remembered how much worse the veterans sitting in the front row at Sunday’s service had it on the battlefield.

“Those guys had a lot rougher go than any of the rest of us have now I can’t even imagine what they would have gone through and the sacrifices they put forth during the war.

“Our lifestyle is pretty relax compared to what those guys went through…We were sheltered and well fed, some of these guys when they were in the war, they missed meals and went for days on end without food and got shelled. We never had to experience anything like that.”

The respect that Lebrasceur has for the veterans is not extended to him as a military man. When he first joined up, people didn’t show a lot of respect for the work of the military. “It’s a lot better than it used to be; we weren’t very respected in Canada. It has really come around a lot… since we’ve gotten into more conflict, people have really started to pay attention to veterans and serving members.”

And that respect was felt as he stood at the Petrolia cenotaph.

“I’ve always wanted to come back and do this. This year I decided to buy a ticket,” he told The Independent after the ceremony Sunday.

“It feels really good to stand here.”

Heather Wright/The Independent

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