Laken Pavan from Parksville, shakes hands and thanks veterans during a D-Day celebration in France at Juno Beach. (Submitted photo)

Laken Pavan from Parksville, shakes hands and thanks veterans during a D-Day celebration in France at Juno Beach. (Submitted photo)

Canadian Armed Forces gave direction to Parksville’s Kevin Pavan

‘All my friends were getting jobs, moving on. I was doing the same old thing’

Serving in the military runs in retired Master Cpl. Kevin Pavan’s family. On his mother’s side, his great grandfather served during the First World War, and his grandfather served during the Second World War.

Pavan said his grandfathers’ military career didn’t impact his decision to join the Canadian Armed Forces, but he remembers exactly when the idea first came to his mind.

“I was in Grade 7 and was watching TV when I saw the soldiers in Bosnia, the Canadian troops,” said Pavan.

That image has always stuck in his head, he said.

“They were over there, helping people, and I thought I’d like to do that one day.”

Before joining, Pavan said he was “going down the wrong path,” and attributes the military to “sorting him out.”

“All my friends were getting jobs, moving on. I was doing the same old thing.”

He credits the military with giving him “a sense of direction,” and stability that provided him medical and dental benefits, plus a paycheque every two weeks.And friends that he’ll never forget.

“It (serving for the Canadian Armed Forces) gives you a sense of accomplishment.”

READ MORE: Field of Crosses honouring soldiers to be erected in Qualicum Beach

Pavan joined in 2001 at age 22, as a combat engineer. After his pre-training, he then went to a combat engineer regiment in Edmonton. From there, he was deployed in 2003 to Bosnia for six months. Then was part of the first rotation to Afghanistan in 2006.

“That was some of the heaviest fighting,” he said. “Haven’t seen fighting like that since really Korea. It was new to all of us.”

His service did not come without a cost. Before being medically discharged, there was an attempt to retrain Pavan, where he tried to be a dog handler for improvised explosive devices. Retraining was unsuccessful, and Pavan was medically discharged in 2017 with a post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I wanted to get back over there, but my limitations kiboshed that. I got a bad back, shoulders, and knees too… Just regular wear and tear. ”

Pavan served with the Canadian Armed Forces for 17 years and 80 days.

Originally from Port Moody, Pavan is a single father and currently lives in Parksville with his 14-year-old son, Laken. Though Pavan said that even Parksville is too crowded for him, and hopes to one day move out to “somewhere like Port Alice.”

Laken, a cadet and Kwalikum Secondary School student, plans on becoming a Master Corporal and wants to join the Assault Pioneers infantry.

In June last year Pavan and Laken went on a Liberation Tour, with special VIP access, for the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. Their whole battlefield tour lasted more than a month and ended in Germany.

“Every time we saw a vet, me and my son got to run up and shake their hands and congratulate them. It was a really moving experience.”

For his son, the trip had meant so much more than just a vacation. “For him (Laken) to see an actual World War II combat vet, since it would’ve proba

bly been one of their last trips out there, it meant a lot for me and him to thank them all.”

Laken apparently stole the spotlight from his father during the trip though, as veterans gravitated towards him.

“You could have the Prime Minister standing beside us, and they would talk to my son because he was in his cadet uniform, and they just loved him.”

As a new member of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 49, Pavan’s duties are currently data entry, but beyond the hours he puts in at the legion, Pavan enjoys the outdoors and staying in shape by working out at the gym every morning.

He said he’ll be carrying the flag on Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, at the Parksville Cenotaph, which as a public event during the COVID pandemic will be limited to 50 people in attendance.

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