In the Fall of 1999, the first Mine Awareness Training Area of its kind in Canada was created and brought into operation. The goal of this training area is to save lives. In the past half-century, hundreds of soldiers, many of whom were Canadians serving on Peace Support Operations, have fallen victim to landmines. The majority were seriously maimed, while others made the ultimate sacrifice. One such soldier was Sergeant Ivan Lethbridge Stark. In the heat of the Egyptian desert in 1957, the jeep in which Sergeant Stark was travelling struck a land mine. Sergeant Stark was the first Canadian Peace Keeper to be killed by a landmine while serving on a Post-Korean War peace support operation. It is hoped that future deaths by the indiscriminate use of landmines will be avoided through the use of this Mine Awareness Training Area.
Sergeant I.L. Stark's name was chosen for this training facility in honour of the sacrifice he made in the service of peace.
The following is the Adress given by LCol BG Jackson, CMDT PSTC
MRS YVETTE STARK, THE STARK FAMILY, MGEN AND MRS JEFFERIES (ASSISTANT CHIEF OF LAND STAFF), MR OLIVERI NICOLOFF (REPRESENTING AMBASSADOR LIVERMORE OF DFAIT) MGEN ARP (COMD LFDTS), THE HONOURABLE JOHN GERRETSEN (MPP FOR KINGSTON AND THE ISLANDS) HIS WORSHIP MAYOR GARY BENNETT (MAYOR OF KINGSTON), COL SIMPSON (ENGR BRANCH ADVISOR), COL SKIDMORE (COMD CFB KINGSTON), MR ANDREW RASIULIS (DMTAP), MWO (ret’d) AND MRS BOB TAYLOR, OTHER GUESTS, FELLOW STAFF AND STUDENTS OF THE PEACE SUPPORT TRAINING CENTRE, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
WELCOME TO THE PEACE SUPPORT TRAINING CENTRE AND TO THE DEDICATION OF THIS MINE AWARENESS TRAINING AREA.
THE MISSION OR PURPOSE OF THE PEACE SUPPORT TRAINING CENTRE IS TO CONDUCT PRE-DEPLOYMENT TRAINING FOR MEMBERS OF THE CANADIAN FORCES WHO HAVE BEEN SELECTED TO DEPLPOY OVERSEAS ON A PEACE SUPPORT OPERATION --- WHAT IS MORE COMMONLY CALLED “PEACE KEEPING’.
WHAT THIS MEANS IN PRACTICAL TERMS IS THAT APPROXIMATELY 1000 MILITARY PERSONNEL (WHO ARE DEPLOYING TO PEACEKEEPING MISSIONS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD) COME TO KINGSTON EACH YEAR RECEIVE A PACKAGE OF TRAINING. THESE PERSONNEL ARE PRIMARILY MEMBERS OF THE CANADIAN FORCES AND REPRESENT ALL THREE SERVICES (LAND, SEA AND AIR), RANGE IN RANK FROM PRIVATE TO COLONEL, ARE MALE AND FEMALE, REGULAR AND RESERVE, AND REPRESENT ALL MILITARY OCCUPATIONS AND CLASSIFICATIONS. AS WELL, UNDER THE MILITARY TRAINING ASSISTANCE PROGRAMME (KNOWN AS ‘MTAP’)WE HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE TO HAVE OFFICERS FROM A LARGE NUMBER OF FOREIGN COUNTRIES PARTICIPATE IN OUR TRAINING. WITH US TODAY WE HAVE STUDENTS FROM: EL SALVADOR, JORDAN, KENYA, GHANA, TANZANIA, BANGLADESH AND NEPAL. WE ALSO HAVE INSTRUCTORS FROM ARGENTINA, BRAZIL AND SWITZERLAND. I WISH TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE ROLE PLAYED BY MTAP IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS TRAINING FACILITY. WITHOUT THEIR SUPPORT WE WOULD NOT BE AT THE STATE OF DEVELOPMENT WE ARE TODAY.
THESE 1000 OR SO STUDENTS WILL PARTICIPATE IN EITHER AN 8 DAY BASIC COURSE – OF WHICH WE CONDUCT 28 PER YEAR; OR AN 18 DAY MILITARY OBSERVER COURSE -- FOUR OF THESE ARE CONDUCTED ANNUALLY. THE MTAP OFFICERS ARE JUST – TODAY - COMPLETING MILITARY OBSERVER TRAINING. EACH OF THESE COURSES INCLUDES LESSONS AND TRAINING ON SUCH SUBJECTS AS: DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT THE MISSION TO WHICH THE INDIVIDUAL IS DEPLOYING, THE GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE OF THE MISSION AREA , THE CULTURE AND LANGUAGE THAT ARE INDIGENOUS TO THE AREA IN WHICH THEY WILL BE SERVING, RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, BENIFITS AND ALLOWANCES, SUPPORT FOR THEIR FAMILIES WHILE THEY ARE DEPLOYED, AND A VARIETY OF SKILLS THAT WILL HELP THEM DO THEIR JOBS AND ASSIST IN REDUCING RISKS WHILE THEY ARE IN THEIR THEATRE OF OPERATION. ONE OF THE PRINCIPLES SKILLS IN THIS REGARD IS BEING ABLE TO RECOGNIZE THE THREAT OF LANDMINES AND THEREBY HAVE THE ABILITY TO AVOID THEM, OR IF FOUND TO BE IN A MINED AREA - TO EXTRACT ONESELF OR OTHERS TO A SAFE PLACE.
THIS IS NOT DEMINING – WHICH IS THE REMOVAL AND DESTRUCTION OF MINES - RATHER IT IS PROVIDNG ALL OF OUR SERVICE PERSONNEL WITH THE ABILITY TO RECOGNIZE THE THREAT OF LAND MINES AND AVOID THEM AS THEY PERFORM THEIR DUTIES IN THEIR MISSION AREA. THE ONLY PERSONNEL WHO HANDLE MINES ARE EXPERTS IN THE COMBAT ENGINEER REGIMENTS.
THE MOST EFFECTIVE TRAINING IS THAT WHICH IS PRACTICAL; THAT IS TO SAY ‘HANDS ON’ ‘TO TOUCH AND FEEL’ OR ‘TO SEE AND EXPERIENCE SOMETHING ONESELF’. WITH THIS IN MIND THE STAFF OF THE PSTC CONCEIVED OF AN AREA WHERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF LAND MINES AND OTHER EXPLOSIVE DEVICES COULD BE LAID OUT IN THE GROUND AND SET UP IN BUILDINGS USING VARIOUS TECHNIQUES AND MEANS OF DELIVERY – AND THEN LEAVE THEM IN PLACE. BY DOING THIS OUR STUDENTS THE ARE PRESENTED WITH THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEE AND EXPERIENCE FIRST HAND A MINED AREA AND TO BE ABLE TO RECOGNIZE THE DANGER SIGNS AND INDICATORS. THE ABILITY TO RECOGNIZE TRIP WIRES AND BOOBY TRAPS, AND EXTRACT ONES SELF FROM A MINED AREA IS ALSO NECESSARY - AND THE CAPABILITY TO PRACTICE THESE SKILLS HAS BEEN INCORPATED INTO THIS TRAINING FACILITY.
ONCE CONSTRUCTED, IT WAS APPARENT THAT THIS MINE AWARENESS TRAINING AREA WAS UNIQUE IN THE CANADIAN FORCES – AND INDEED THE WORLD – AND WE FELT THAT IT WOULD BE APPROPRIATE TO HAVE IT PROPERLY DEDICATED. AFTER SOME DISCUSSION IT WAS AGREED THAT THE MOST MEANINGFUL DEDICATION FOR A MINE AWARENESS TRAINING AREA WOULD BE TO THE FIRST CANADIAN PEACE KEEPER TO BE KILLED BY A LAND MINE WHILE SERVING ON A PEACE SUPPORT OPERATION (THAT IS ON A PEACE KEEPING MISSION IN PEARSON MODEL – A CANADIAN CONCEPT AND INITIATIVE).
DETAILED RESEARCH BY A PSTC SNR NCO - SGT GARY KETT - REVEALED THAT SGT IVAN STARK, ROYAL CANADIAN ENGINEERS, WAS KILLED ON 27 SEPTEMBER 1957 WHILE SERVING IN THE SINAI DESERT WITH THE UNITED NATION EMERGENCY FORCE. SGT STARK, WHILE NOT THE FIRST CANADIAN PEACE KEEPER TO DIE ON A PEACE KEEPING OPERATION, WAS THE FIRST TO FALL VICTIM OF A LAND MINE.
WE KNEW THAT THIS WOULD BE A VERY PERSONAL AND SENSITIVE ISSUE
FOR SGT STARK’S FAMILY BUT WE WERE EXTREMELY PLEASED, WHEN UPON CONTACTING
MRS YVETTE STARK – SGT STARK’S WIFE – THAT SHE AND HER FAMILY WERE SUPPORTIVE
OF THIS DEDICATION.
WHICH BRINGS US TO TODAY AND THIS MOMENT.
TO FORMALLY MARK THE DEDICATION OF THIS TRAINING AREA A CAIRN HAS BEEN CONSTRUCTED. THIS CAIRN, I HOPE, WILL SERVE THREE PURPOSES:
FIRST - IT WILL RECOGNIZE THE SACRIFE MADE IN THE NAME OF PEACE BY SGT STARK AND THE MANY OTHERS WHO HAVE FALLEN VICTIM TO LAND MINES – INCLUDING MCPL MARK ISFELD WHO’S WIFE – CAROL- IS WITH US TODAY.
NEXT - THAT IT WILL PERSONALIZE THE REAL AND PERSISTENT THREAT THAT LAND MINES POSE TO THE THOUSANDS OF CANADIAN FORCES AND FOREIGN STUDENTS WHO WILL PASS THROUGH THIS TRAINING AREA IN THE FUTURE AS THEY PREPARE TO DEPLOY OVERSEAS. IN DOING SO IT SHOULD MAKE THEM MORE KEENLY AWARE OF THE DANGERS THEY FACE EVERY DAY WHILE DEPLOYED AND THEREBY INCREASE THEIR LIKELIHOOD OF RETURNING HOME SAFELY ON COMPLETION OF THEIR DUTY.
FINALLY - I HOPE THAT THIS CAN BE PLACE TO WHICH THE STARK FAMILY AND
OTHERS CAN COME TO REMEMBER AND HONOUR THE MEMORY OF IVAN LETHBRIDGE STARK.
I WILL NOW ASK MRS STARK TO COME FORWARD AND UNVIEL THE PLACQUE.
Ivan Stark decided to return to military life on 21st Jan 1952 as a member of the Royal Canadian Engineers. His position was that of Bricklayer in the 57 Ind Fd Sqn RCE. On 29 Jan 1952, Ivan Stark was transferred to the 23 Fd Sqn RCE. He worked his way up through the rank Cpl and upon completion of his Small Arms Course 15th Feb 1957 was promoted to the rank of Sgt. Sgt Stark embarked for Egypt on the 20th Sept 1957 and was killed seven days later.
Ivan Stark was killed when the jeep he was in struck an anti-tank mine. He was sitting in the passenger seat listening to Sgt Talyor (the person he was taking over for) explain about mine field locations. The jeep hit the mine along the edge of the road (which was known to be cleared). It was felt that perhaps a Bedouin had placed the mine there for the UN troops to pick up. Sgt Stark was instantly killed and Sgt Talyor was thrown from the jeep with few physical injuries. The blast had knocked Sgt Taylor unconscious. A Beduin stayed with Taylor until help arrived.
Sgt Stark's body rests in Plot 16, Row B, Grave 5, Moarscar Military Cemetery, Ismalia, Egypt.
A mine-awareness training area, the first permanent facility in the country that simulates a mined environment, opened at CFB Kingston yesterday in the name of Sgt. Ivan Stark, the first Canadian peacekeeper killed by a landmine.
The training area, where military personnel from throughout the world
will come to practise dealing with landmines, is part of the Peace Support
at CFB Kingston.
It is an impressive addition to the internationally renowned centre.
The new area features mock-ups of situations soldiers may encounter, including two recently constructed houses that recreate booby-trapped environments and a covered sandy area, where officers practise the time-consuming techniques for detecting the explosives.
According to Capt. Yvonne Cooper, public affairs officer of the base, the Peace Support Center conducts 28 seven-day and four 18-day courses per year. Approximately 1,000 Canadian and foreign soldiers undergo training at the centre each year.
Soldiers from countries such as Nepal, Brazil, Tanzania and Kenya attended yesterday's ceremony, in addition to senior military officials from across the country.
Lt.-Col. Brian Jackson, commandant of the Peace Support Center, said citizens must never lose sight of the personal losses that result from landmine explosions.
"By commemorating this cairn in Sgt. Stark's memory, we're recognizing the sacrifices made in the name of peace [and we're] personalizing the real and persistent threat of landmines."
Sgt. Stark was only 29 years old when his jeep struck a landmine in Egypt during a 1957 United Nations mission.
Jackson stressed that the mandate of the centre is not to teach landmine diffusion and removal but to offer practical training for detecting the devices and escaping a minefield unharmed.
In his remarks, Col. Michael Snell noted the school's unwavering commitment to removing the "ubiquitous threat of landmines."
"We've learned and we've innovated policies, procedures, equipment and training [to come out] on the leading edge of mine awareness and training," he said, "[and] we continue to seek a better way
"That is the first step in this process É we're further improving [our ability] to protect and defend soldiers against the landmine threat."
The facility brings Canada once again to the forefront of the war against landmine use.
In March 1999, Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy played a central role in encoding the 1997 treaty banning landmines into international law. Two-thirds of the world's nations have banned the weapons which, according to some estimates, kill or maim about 25,000 people worldwide each year.
Chief W.O. John Pople explained that increasing awareness about various
types and placements of landmines is essential to ensuring the safety of
"There are hundreds of types of landmines and literally thousands of ways they can be set up," Pople said.
He added that the most challenging aspect of landmines is the large number of them that remain in previously war-torn areas.
"In the former Yugoslavia, much time was spent on figuring out the most effective design of trip wires," he said. "[The newest forms] are several steel wires coated in rubber. Because of that coating they can last up to 50 years ... They're still there."
Three Photos from the cermony.
Photo 1 - Cairn
Photo 2 - Plaque
Photo 3 - Sgt Stark's family. Mrs. Yvette Stark(left front),Son Bob(left rear),daughter Linda(right front) and son Larry right rear).Col Simpson presented a coloured photo of the cairn to Mrs Stark from the CME Branch.
My thanks to Jim Murphy and Capt D. Quinn, DCDS/Mile for providing information.