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‘They’d be better off if there was never another war’

Leo Sampson served as quartermaster in the Royal Canadian Navy. He plans to attend the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Astor Theatre in Liverpool Nov. 11.
Leo Sampson served as quartermaster in the Royal Canadian Navy. He plans to attend the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Astor Theatre in Liverpool Nov. 11. - Aethne Hinchliffe

Korean War veteran reflects on importance of marking Remembrance Day in Queens County

If Leo Sampson hadn’t joined the Navy, he might not have met his wife.
The year was 1952 when the HMCS Oriole sailed to Liverpool, and that’s when Sampson met the woman who would eventually become his bride: Carole MacDonald from Liverpool.
Sampson, who’s from St. Peter’s, Cape Breton, was a quartermaster in the Navy. Being a quartermaster meant being on the wheel at sea and on the gangway in harbour.
“I always wanted to join the navy,” said the 85-year-old Liverpool resident.
Sampson said what interested him about the Navy was going to sea. He joined in 1949 and served until 1957. While serving, Sampson spent time on many ships. The ship he was on the longest was the HMCS Ontario.
“I went to the west coast to join her, and we brought her back around to the east coast a year later,” he said.
Sampson also spent time on the HMCS Huron and HMCS Nootka. During his time in the Navy, Sampson served on the west and east coasts of Canada and in Korea.  
“It was a good life,” he said about serving in the Navy.
He said he had great shipmates and everybody looked after each other. Enjoying being at sea was a “big plus,” he said.
Remembrance Day
When the Remembrance Day ceremony takes place at the Astor Theatre Nov. 11, Sampson will be one of the veterans remembering.
“It means a lot to me,” said Sampson.
He wasn’t the only one in his family to serve in the military. His father and younger and older brothers also served.
“My father was in the First World War, my older brother was in the Second World War, and then I was in Korea,” Sampson said.
His younger brother served in the Navy for about 35 years.  
Sampson said he believes it’s important for young people to be reminded Remembrance Day exists for a reason. The day provides a way to remember all the wars that have taken place.
“They weren’t very good situations, but we had a lot of people in this country that served, and they should be remembered for their service,” Sampson said. “I think that’s about the biggest reminder for those younger ones that they’d be better off if there was never another war.”
Back aboard the Oriole
A few months ago, Sampson got to step back on the sailing ketch that took him to Liverpool.
“I was aboard her in Halifax. She was sailing with the tall ships,” he said.  
The HMCS Oriole is now a training vessel, which is being refitted in Lunenburg. While on board, Sampson met the skipper.
“That was great,” he said. “I didn’t even think she was sailing anymore; I thought she was long gone. She’d be 98 years old now.”
Sampson had an old photograph of four or five guys on the ship’s deck. He took the photo and gave it to the captain. In return, Sampson received a coin. The coin has Canada 150 on one side and on the other is a crest of the HMCS Oriole.
Sampson hopes to get back on the vessel again at some point before she returns to the west coast to continue to be used as Navy training ship.
The ceremony at the Astor Theatre is set to begin at 11 a.m. Nov. 11.
For information about Veterans’ Week, visit http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/get-involved/remembrance-day.

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