Friday, January 19, 2018

T&T must honour its heroes

Slain US soldier’s dad:


IN MEMORY: Parents of Private First Class (PFC) Le Ron A Wilson, Major Lawrence Wilson, right, and Simona Francis, and his brother Nicholas display a sign with the street name on it. At left is Port of Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee, who presented the sign. Wilson was the youngest US soldier to die in Operation Iraqi Freedom in Baghdad in 2007, at the age of 18. ­­—Photo: AYANNA KINSALE

Mark Fraser

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO must do better to honour those who do it service, the father of slain US-based soldier PFC Le Ron Wilson, who died in Iraq, said yesterday as his son’s name was formally attached to Marli Street, Port of Spain, in his memory.

Major Lawrence Wilson, who lives in Trinidad, said he will now, seven years after his son’s death, champion those who have laid down their lives for their country and are yet to be honoured for it.

Major Wilson said the names of those who died in the attempted coup of 1990 and those Trinidadians who were killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York city are generally not remembered.

He plans to embark on a campaign to change that.

PFC Wilson made headlines around the world when, in 2007, he became the youngest member of the military to die in Iraq.

Wilson was killed after volunteering for a dangerous mission on a week-long patrol in South Baghdad. He had joined the Army for his 17th birthday and was killed after serving just one year.

A new street sign that reads “FC Le Ron A Wilson Way” was yesterday placed under the existing Marli Street sign, seven years after the family’s request that it be done in his memory.

Similar signs have gone up in several places across the United States, PFC Wilson’s mother, Simona Francis, said after yesterday’s memoriam.

Major Wilson said his son has been honoured time and time again abroad, but here at home he and others like him were not so quick to be recognised.

“For a service person, the only thing you have to give afterwards is your name,” Major Wilson said.

“And for anyone who died in service, their name should live on.”

Major Wilson was himself honoured for 35 years of service to the city of Port of Spain and is a Rotary Club of Port of Spain past president.

Seeing the news last week of the shooting death of T&T Defence Force soldier, Lance Corporal Kayode Thomas, Major Wilson said he feels for the family, as no one would understand what they are going through.

His own son taught him much, Major Wilson said, and among the lessons he taken away were “Enjoy life, respect life, love life.”

Delivering the homily during a service at All Saints Anglican Church, prior to the unveiling of the new sign, Canon Dr Steve A West said it was up to every individual in this country to take responsibility for ensuring peace.

The spectacle of young men lying by the side of the road, riddled with bullets, must end, West said, as he recalled the death of Kayode Thomas.

“He was going about his business,” West said.

The fact that soldiers are being murdered in this country is a call for all to recognise they must become ambassadors for peace, West said.

In a brief address, Pastor Clive Dottin said PFC Wilson embodied a role model in a time when young black men were dying.

The impact that someone like PFC Wilson might have had on others of his age can now only be imagined, Dottin said.