From the time Byron was a toddler, he wanted to be the best. When he was young, his caring, energetic nature already shone through, and it blossomed as he grew older.

Byron was a typical little boy, brimming with mischief and fun. He loved to play a small marble game called “Hungry Hungry Hippos,” but he was equally as happy to play quietly with Lego for hours. Byron was the friend that everyone wanted: the one who would always look out for others and be a source of entertainment. Early on, hockey was an important part of Byron’s life. This passion continued into adulthood and served as a special bond between him and his young son.

Although Byron never expressed a desire to be a soldier, he did attend cadets for one year in Red Deer in grade 9. In grade 12, shortly after Christmas, he informed his family that he wanted to join the military. Byron did not come from a family of soldiers, but he had a lot of boisterous energy to channel into a cause. Two weeks after his high school graduation, Byron flew to Quebec for his basic training. He was 17.

Following basic training, Byron attended battle school at Wainwright in Alberta. Eventually, he was stationed in Edmonton, where he met the love of his life at the young age of 18. A few years later, their son was born. Byron served as a soldier, a paratrooper and member of the battalion’s reconnaissance platoon. In 2007, he was deployed for his first tour in Afghanistan.

Byron and his wife got married only weeks before his second deployment to Afghanistan. He was fortunate to make it home in time to be at his daughter’s birth, and he reveled in that time with his family before he had to return to Afghanistan.

Byron’s protective nature as a child grew to be an asset in the military. He was highly respected by all who worked and served with him, and he proved to be a dedicated, hard-working soldier. His perseverance extended beyond the military. Byron was continuously active and fit, playing hockey and enjoying golfing. He was thrilled to pass his love of hockey on to his son, and Byron would take him into the dressing room after games to hang out with “the boys.”

To say Byron was the life of the party is an understatement. He had many friends, and people were drawn to him because of his outgoing nature and infectious energy. He could be outspoken, but his sense of humour let him get away with it. Byron was a jokester, a fun-loving guy who loved to laugh loudly and play jokes.

Although he acted like a tough guy on the outside, his warm and caring personality was known by all. He willingly put aside his verbosity to become a genuine listener and confidant. In the weeks after the birth of his daughter, this warmth and gentleness was even more apparent. In his pursuit to be the best at everything, he was the best soldier; but just as importantly, he was the best husband and father.

By: Sarah J. Den Boer

Portrait by Shairl Honey