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News | Oct. 18, 2006

Canada honors fallen warrior with new air defence complex

By Lt. Steve Neta

Canada's Minister of National Defence, Gordon O’Connor, officially opened the Sergeant David L. Pitcher complex during an Oct. 12 naming and dedication ceremony at 22 Wing North Bay, Ontario.

Canada’s new air defence complex is named after Sgt. David Lindsay Pitcher. Pitcher was killed, along with the rest of his E-3B Airborne Warning and Control System crew, in a crash in Elmendorf, Alaska, Sept. 22, 1995.

The dedication ceremony marked the end of an era in the Canadian military. The Sgt. David L. Pitcher building brings Canada’s air defence personnel out of an underground, Cold War-era bunker into a aboveground, state-of-the-art facility with a new command and control system.

The ceremony was also an opportunity to pay tribute to a fallen warrior.

“It’s an honour to be here today to dedicate this complex in memory of Sergeant David L. Pitcher, who gave his life serving Canada and the North American Aerospace Command mission,” O’Connor said. “I like to think he would have been proud to know that this complex, which bears his name, will stand for years in defence of the country he loved.”

Among the many dignitaries attending the event was Maj.-Gen. Charlie Bouchard, Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division/Canadian NORAD Region.

Bouchard said, simply, “We will remember."

At a time when the Canadian Forces is facing casualties overseas, and just a day after the remains of Trooper Mark Andrew Wilson were returned home, it was an opportune moment to remember all soldiers, sailors, and aircrew who have made the ultimate sacrifice serving Canada.

In an emotional address, Maj. Robert Pitcher, brother of Sgt. David Pitcher, reminded the audience of the threats in the world today.

“We need protectors," Pitcher said, "protectors like my brother David. And with his name on this building, he will continue to protect us now and in the future, and we can all sleep a little more soundly at night.”

Sgt. David Lindsay Pitcher is the only Canadian air defence technician to perish in the line of duty.