Members of 8 MSS build crosses to support military interments

Some of the members from 81 Construction Engineering Flight, 8 Mission Support Squadron (8 MSS) in 8 Wing Trenton involved in the construction and delivery of the wooden crosses included (from left) WO Robert Pinet (CAF NMC Coordinator), Col Gary O’Neil (DCSM), Capt Peter Warford (81 CEF Flight Commander), WO Eric Keding (81 CEF Flight Warrant Officer), MWO Deborah Hodge (CAF NMC LO), Cpl Shane Christie (Construction Technician) and Cpl Alex Holmes-Makcrow (Construction Technician). ***Parmi les membres de la 81e Escadrille de génie construction du 8e Escadron de soutien de mission (8 Esc Sout Msn), à la 8e Escadre Trenton, qui ont participé à la construction et à la livraison des croix en bois, on compte (de gauche à droite) l’Adj Robert Pinet (coordonnateur du CMN des FAC), le Col Gary O’Neil (D Gest SB), le Capt Peter Warford (commandant d’escadrille de la 81 EGC), l’Adj Eric Keding (adjudant d’escadrille de la 81 EGC), l’Adjum Deborah Hodge (agente de liaison du CMN des FAC), le Cpl Shane Christie (technicien construction) et le Cpl Alex Holmes Makcrow (technicien construction).

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By Sergeant Jeffrey Lacroix-Wilson

Members from 81 Construction Engineering Flight, 8 Mission Support Squadron (8 MSS) in 8 Wing Trenton have constructed and delivered 30 handmade wooden crosses to the National Military Cemetery in Ottawa to support military interments.

The four-foot-tall wooden crosses—painted white and staked into the ground—are placeholders for the fallen until their permanent granite headstone is installed.

In the past, the National Military Cemetery of the Canadian Armed Forces has resorted to hiring private contractors to build crosses because the National Capital Region does not have a dedicated carpentry shop. All this changed in early March, however, when the 8 MSS graciously offered to construct and deliver them in person.

“We saw this as an opportunity to provide something back to the members and families that have given so much,” 8 MSS Commander Captain Peter Warford says. “If we can play a part in assisting the Canadian Armed Forces to bring comfort to the family, then we will.”

Accompanied by members of 8 MSS—including Warrant Officer Eric Keding, Corporal Shane Christie and Corporal Alex Holmes-Makcrow—Captain Warford’s team set aside their pre-deployment training for the day to drive upto Ottawa with a trunk full of crosses and see the National Military Cemetery for themselves.

“There’s something about it,” says Master Warrant Officer Deborah Hodge, liaison officer for the National Military Cemetery. “It’s more meaningful to know military members are building the crosses. There’s a greater sense of attachment, a stronger link between those who currently serve and those who have passed away.”

While several members who built the crosses have since deployed to Kuwait on Operation Impact—as part of 8 MSS, they will form the bulk of construction engineering personnel during their rotation—Master Warrant Officer Hodge and Captain Warford hope the relationship between the National Military Cemetery and 8 MSS continues long into the future.

The National Military Cemetery was officially opened in 2001 in order to honour Canadian Armed Forces personnel who have faithfully served their nation in times of peace and war. As part of the Canadian Armed Forces Transition Group under Director Casualty Support Management (DCSM), it is a national focal point for a grateful nation to honour those who have placed themselves in harm’s way on behalf of the people of Canada. As of today, more than 2,300 soldiers, sailors, airwomen and airmen have chosen the National Military Cemetery as their final resting place.

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