Ernie Peaker with a photograph of himself when he first joined the Navy at age 17 - Cloe Logan photo

Parksville man disheartened by notes on windshield saying he’s not a ‘real’ veteran

Anonymous messages at Parksville golf course said he should be ‘ashamed’ of special licence plates

Ernie Peaker joined the Canadian Navy in 1969 and spent 34 years serving — often at his base in Esquimalt, but also as far away as Cambodia.

So, when Peaker saw a note on his windshield admonishing him for his veteran licence plates this summer in Parksville, he felt disheartened.

“Well I was at my golf course and I finished playing golf… I noticed there was a piece of paper on the windshield and it wasn’t very nice,” he said. “Basically it said you should be ashamed for displaying these plates, you’re taking away from real veterans.”

It happened not once, but twice, at the golf course.

“Now I just take take the notes and put them in the garbage, I don’t think twice about it,” he said. “I’m quite comfortable about being a veteran.”

It’s part of a misconception, Peaker said, that veterans who served when he did didn’t see real violence — that they’re not “real” veterans. Peaker said not only did he experience traumatic things while in the Navy, but he had to spend a lot of time away — sometimes 200 days at sea a year, “especially in the early days.”

“You know some people think because you had been in the service for a period of time, but had never seen action, that you’re not a real veteran,” he said, while sitting at his kitchen table wearing a shirt with “Navy Marine” embroidered in yellow thread. “There’s veterans that never stepped outside of Canada and have never been put in harm’s way and they deserve the same respect because they served and they were ready to go at a moment’s notice.”

READ MORE: Meet the B.C. veteran who helped fight to recognize Remembrance Day

Peaker joined the Navy when he was just 17 years old. While looking at a photo of himself taken at the beginning of his service, he can’t help but laugh while looking at how young he looks.

“Still a kid, just hardly shaving,” he said.

In more than three decades of time spent serving in the Navy, Peaker went around the world several times. He was awarded the Order of Military Merit by the Governor-General, a Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal and other accolades for his service.

“I’ve served with the United Nations in Cambodia in 1992 for six months and in 2001, after 9/11, we were the first Canadian warship from Vancouver to go to the gulf with the American battle group,” Peaker said. “We spent seven and a half months over there.”

Peaker points to his time in Cambodia as something that stands out for him.

“We were the United Nations transitional authority in Cambodia after they ousted Pol Pot,” he said, referencing the Prime Minister responsible for the Cambodian genocide, which killed an estimated 1.5 million to 2 million people. “The things I saw over there, no body should have to see, the atrocities, it’s still in my mind.”

Still, when Peaker looks back at his storied career, he feels grateful to have had so much of his life spent in the Navy.

“I never had any bad days in the Navy, just some were better than others,” he said. “I say to my buddies, if we had two Navys, I would have moonlighted in the second.”

cloe.logan@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Summerland man rescued following ATV accident

Helicopters used to transport injured man to Kelowna for treatment

South Okanagan playgrounds now open

Once caution tape is removed, playgrounds are officially open for public use

Evacuation order and alerts issued for properties in Cawston area

Flooding in region results in State of Local Emergency

Rain in Sunday forecast for Okanagan-Shuswap

Environment Canada calling for 15-20 millimetres in regions

Arena served Summerland for 26 years

Warm winters meant short ice seasons in early 1950s

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

High water levels on Shuswap Lake may close popular Canoe Beach

Rain forecast could flood entrance tunnel, city staff to evaluate

189 homes in Grand Forks area given evacuation orders

Homes are in the Nursery, Grand Forks Airport, Gilpin Rd., Johnson Flats and Granby Rd. areas

Mother bear and two cubs spotted in West Kelowna

Residents of Shannon Lake are urged to be on the look out for three bears in the area

Social justice advocate yells at Kelowna council, demands presence at Black Lives Matter rally

Heather Friesen has again taken to council chambers to make her opinion heard

Youth filmmakers tackle technology addiction, relationships, cyber-bullying

The Kelowna couple won a grant from Telus STORYHIVE

Significant flooding not expected in Summerland

Okanagan Lake now slightly higher than full pool level

Vernon videographer captures thunderstorm

See the ‘best bits’ of Saturday’s storm

Most Read