Honouring Veterans

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 3:33 p.m. November 11, 2015

Hundreds of Service members marked Remembrance Day at headquarters, many of them having served in the military or in policing roles alongside troops.

A man in TPS uniform bows his head
Constable Craig Dickie stands as an honour guard during the ceremony

Constable Craig Dickie, who served as an honour guard at the ceremony, is proud to have served Canada as both a soldier and police officer.

“For me, Remembrance Day is one of the most important days of the year,” he said. “The least we can do is thank our veterans for the enormous sacrifices they made to make this world a better place. My dad served in the British Merchant Navy and left a legacy for me to follow.”

As a Reserve, Dickie was with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, prior to joining the First Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment.

Dickie spent 24 years with the Canadian Armed Forces before joining Toronto Police Service in 1998. In 2009, he was among the first rotation of police officers to be deployed to Afghanistan.

“To do a mission in Afghanistan was the perfect fusion of my two passions,” he said, of serving as a soldier and police officer. “It allowed me to contribute at a ground level and really see a tangible result in helping to establish the rule of law in Afghanistan.”

Dickie lived part-time at an Afghan police station and actively patrolled villages with a squad of U.S. American soldiers and Afghan police trainees. 

He instituted a setup, used successfully back home, where command-level staff and community leaders meet frequently to discuss issues of concern. Under his direction, all village elders within a district met with the police commander to address issues ranging from insurgent activities to petty crime and drug trafficking. 

The 31 Division Major Crime Unit officer and member of the Chief’s Ceremonial Unit also successfully initiated a project using North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) assets to cover the $700,000 cost of repairing a bypass road heavily used by commercial trucks. In its deteriorated condition, the road not only damaged trucks but provided a prime area for insurgents to plant IEDs.

Following this year’s Remembrance Day event at police headquarters, Chief Mark Saunders presented Dickie with an operational service medal.

Serving in Afghanistan was a big honour for 22 Division Sergeant Tyrone Hilton, as was being asked to read the poem You Bought Me Time at the Remembrance Day ceremony.

“To be part of the military veterans and to be asked to be part of the program honouring their sacrifices is a tremendous honour for me,” said Hilton, the Toronto Police Military Veterans Association vice-president.

He served in Afghanistan from May 2013 to March 2014.

A man in TPS uniform saluting
Constable Tyrone Hilton

Toronto police officers who have served on peacekeeping and training missions, along with war veterans, gathered in the Grenville lobby for this year’s Remembrance Day service, marking the 97th year of the first Armistice on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Retired Staff Sergeant Gord Barrett and William Talbot paid tribute to family member and close friend Frederick Topham, by laying a wreath in his honour. Topham was Barrett’s great-great-uncle. 

A medical orderly who parachuted with his battalion into a strongly defended area east of the Rhine during World War Two, Topham was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry. He died in 1974.

“Many of the men paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives and we will always remember them,” said TMPVA president Dana Gidlow, who read the names of the fallen and recited the poem, They Shall Not Grow Old.

After 33 years with the TPS, Gidlow did three years of military service, including a tour of duty in Afghanistan. The reservist was also posted overseas with the Canadian Armed Forces in Kosovo and Ethiopia.

Gidlow’s father, Jack Gidlow, served in the Second World War and his late mother, Mary McCulloch, was a recruiter for Britain’s Army Territorial Service. His two sons are also in the military.

Accompanied by Merv Henry on keyboard, vocalist and Quiet Hour Ministries Canada executive director Pam Lister sang the national anthem andAmazing Grace.

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