POLITICS

Mounties add civilian chopper pilot to memorial wall for fallen members

09/09/2012 06:35 EDT | Updated 11/09/2012 05:12 EST
REGINA - The RCMP added two names to their honour roll, cenotaph and memorial wall during a national memorial service in Regina on Sunday.

One of those honoured was David John Brolin, who Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says is the first civilian member of the RCMP to be added to the memorial wall.

Brolin died in January after a helicopter accident that took place while he was training with an RCMP emergency response team near Chilliwack, B.C.

The other member honoured was Const. Derek Pineo, who was killed in a collision with a moose while responding to a call near Wilkie, Sask., in July.

The additions of the names brings the total number of fallen members to 230 since 1876.

Sunday's service and memorial parade was held in Sleigh Square at the RCMP Academy.

Toews said Canadians owe a debt of gratitude to members of the RCMP.

"Most of us leave for work in the morning with the full expectation that we will return home safe at the end of our day. Police officers begin their shifts with the knowledge that they are facing the unknown and that they could very well be risking their lives while on the job," Toews said in a statement from Ottawa.

"As a result, a deep level of trust develops among RCMP members, making it all the more painful when one of their own loses their life in the line of duty."

Brolin, who was 46, was the pilot of an A-star B3 chopper that was returning to base after concluding a series of emergency response drills. The helicopter went down around Cultus Lake in an area with scattered trees bordering Department of National Defence land.

Brolin was the only person aboard. The RCMP said that he had worked several years with the Mounties. He left behind two children.

Despite being a civilian member, a full regimental funeral was held for Brolin after his death.

"Bestowing this honour on a civilian member speaks to the fact that all members of the RCMP are equally dedicated to serving Canadians," Toews said of Sunday's tribute to Brolin.

Pineo grew up in Fall River, N.S., and was married with three children. He was based at the Wilkie RCMP detachment in Saskatchewan and joined the force in 2007.

The RCMP memorial service is an annual event that started in the mid-1930s when RCMP members came to Sleigh Square to honour their fallen comrades.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson presented silver memorial medallions to the families of Pineo and Brolin during a private ceremony on Saturday. One side of the medallion has the RCMP crest on a police badge with the fallen member's regimental number. The other side has the member's rank, name and service dates.

While a civilian, Brolin still had a service number.

"RCMP members dedicate themselves to providing service to Canadians," Paulson said in a statement. "When we lose a member of the RCMP in the line of duty, it tears at the hearts of everyone across the Force."

"I'm thankful for this opportunity to gather together and remember them on this day."