Pte. David Robert James Byers grew up in Espanola, ON, with his mom and dad and an older and younger brother. He had a caring, gentle manner combined with a strong, brave character that included being a bit of a dare devil on occasion. As a child, David was full of action and could be found swimming in the summer or skiing at the Espanola Ski Hill in the winter. Determined and strong-willed, he was always looking for new adventures.
David became a licensed scuba diver at the young age of 14 because he was a great swimmer, loved the water and wanted to explore the world beneath the water. He also enjoyed the best and newest video games – always looking for the latest release and frequently riding his bike 70 km to Sudbury to get them! David met his best friend in daycare when he was two years old and they remained good, good friends throughout his life.
David’s mom worked at a veterinary clinic and he enjoyed helping her take care of the animals there. Once David was giving his mom a hand treatng a cow and a rogue rooster attacked him! As a young man, he enjoyed the outdoors and loved to go camping with his family at Fairbanks Provincial Park.
David also enjoyed visiting his grandmother in her nursing home and sometimes even danced with her friends – they thought he had arrived for a party and David danced with them happily. His friends frequently joined him on these visits and they all laughed about the one senior lady who liked to give them wedgies!
David graduated from Espanola High School in 2002 and took a semester of the Police Foundations Program at Cambrian College in Sudbury, ON, before joining the Canadian Forces. He graduated from basic training in November 2003.
When David decided upon the infantry in the forces, he was stationed with the Second Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in Shilo, MB. He excelled in marksmanship and received the top shot award that goes to the soldier who best combines shooting abilities with physical fitness and shoots the highest score in the platoon during personal weapons tests. Being left handed, winning this award made David proud.
He was looking forward to the next part of his life. David and his fiancée Chantal were thrilled to be expecting their first child in early 2007 and they were buying their first home together in the summer of 2006. Their daughter Layla was born on March 2, 2007, only seven months after David was deployed to Afghanistan on Aug. 2, 2006. The family sees so much of David in Layla, both in her looks and behaviour.
David was happy and proud to be part of the Canadian Forces, and he volunteered for the mission in Kandahar. He felt he had found his niche in life and that the mission in Afghanistan was an important and profound one.
On Dec. 1, 2012, David’s home town of Espanola honoured him by naming a new road Private David Byers Drive for the courage, sacrifice and valour that was such an important part of David’s character.
By Sheryl A. Campbell