A time to remember and a time to move on for local war vet

For William Geernaert, life will never be the same.

  • Nov. 9, 2016 7:00 a.m.

William Geernaert was awarded the Mention of Dispatches for his heroic actions.

Barbara Latkowski

Caledonia Courier

For William Geernaert, life will never be the same.

But the 40-year-old from Fort St. James B.C. is determined to make the best out of all that comes his way since retiring from the Canadian Forces in 2012.

“I guess a part of the reason I joined was historical,” Geernaert said. “Both my father and grandfather served.”

Wanting change and a new adventure, Geernaert was ready to join.

But this wasn’t the only reason he felt he had to do his part.

“I remember how 9/11 affected me and the entire world. It all seemed like a weird movie. Watching the news, that’s all you would hear about,” Geernaert said.

“I knew I wanted to help make a difference.”

But Geernaert’s views changed when returning from Afghanistan.

“When I came back, I saw the world differently,” he said.

“And you see life differently.”

Geernaert was seriously injured in an improvised device blast on Aug. 4, 2009. But the trooper still managed to fight off an insurgent ambush for hours before reaching medical aid.

On June 10, 2011, His Excellence, the Governor General of Canada, on behalf of her Majesty the Queen, awarded Geernaert with the Mention of Dispatches for his heroic actions.

“All in all, my experiences weren’t all bad. You get to see so much and your fellow soldiers become close friends. We were all like family,”Geernaert said.

Today, Geernaert sees his future in a different light and with a new focus.

“For me, it’s all about my kids. You just don’t know how much family means until you get through something like this,”Geernaert said.

He remembers vividly that day in August, 2009 when he made it out alive and called home.

“I remember talking to my son. He wasn’t even in kindergarten yet and he was telling me all about his day. It was such a happy moment to hear from home.”

For Geernaert today, it’s all about family but also about keeping busy.

“I like building things and I volunteer a lot whether it’s kid’s soccer or hockey. I need to stay busy.”

Geernaert also has a passion for the great outdoors and all that the north has to offer.

So, what does Remembrance Day mean to Geernaert today?

For me, it still means so much about the older guys but every soldier has their time, their important moment,” Geernaert says.

“My great-great-grandfather lost five grandsons in World War 1.”

And for Geernaert, memories of his own will always stay with him but his vision for the future remains clear.”

“It was such a big part of my life,” he says.

“And every day I remember but it’s all about making the best of it.”

“My kids keep me going and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Geernaert said.

“After all, for me, it’s all about them at the end of the day.”




Just Posted

Editorial: Go out and play

How much is too much screen time?

Fort St. James businesses get into the Christmas spirit with decorating contest

Northland Automotive Ltd. won first place in Fort St. James Chamber of… Continue reading

Couple selling fake jewelry in Fraser Lake, say RCMP

A man and woman have been defrauding local residents, offering fake jewelry for sale

Gitxsan forming cross-sector salmon management team

Nation again declares closure of fishery in territory for 2019

Tommy Chong says Canada took wrong approach to pot legalization

He also talked about the likelihood of another Cheech and Chong film

Fashion Fridays: How to change your beauty routine

Kim XO, lets you in on her style secrets each Fashion Friday on the Black Press Media Network

‘Both things are true:’ Science, Indigenous wisdom seek common ground

Reconciliation between Canada and First Nations is playing out not only in legislatures and courtrooms but in labs across the country

B.C. to move salmon farms out of coastal migration route

Broughton Archipelago plan set to start in spring of 2019

Facebook reveals bug gave apps unauthorized access to 6.8 million users’ photos

It’s believed up to 1,500 apps built by 876 developers had access to Facebook Stories, private photos

Lower-than-expected parcel volumes helping cut into backlog, says Canada Post

The Crown corporation says that’s largely because it is taking in fewer holiday parcels than expected

Trapped B.C. crash survivor celebrates second chance at life

“Life is good now. It’s good to be alive.”

Increase in downed power lines in B.C., how to stay safe

BC Hydro study finds a third of British Columbians may be putting themselves at risk

Judge sets bail at $2.5 million in 1987 slaying of B.C. couple

William Talbott II, 55, is charged with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder

Most Read