KINDERSLEY, Sask. — A British Armed Forces veteran is facing the prospect of his first Remembrance Day without his nine medals for years of service in the Gulf War, Bosnia and Iraq.
Jim Watson's medals were stolen during a break-in at his apartment in Kindersley, Sask., over the weekend along with military memorabilia and other household items.
The 54-year-old discovered the theft early Monday when he returned from a weekend visit to his family's home in Medicine Hat, Alta. The medals, which had just been remounted for the Nov. 11 ceremony, were missing from the sideboard where he left them.
I've never attended a Remembrance Day parade and not had my medals.Jim Watson
The former staff sergeant, who now works as a general sales manager in Kindersley during the week, says the theft left him devastated and in disbelief.
"It's just sickening," Watson said Wednesday. "I've never attended a Remembrance Day parade and not had my medals."
Watson, a married father and grandfather, immigrated to Canada in 2003 after a 24-year military career and worked in the oilpatch before the economic downturn.
"We love it in Canada and couldn't imagine living anywhere else," he said. "We've always felt safe here."
Watson said he planned to leave the medals to his family in his will but that may not be possible now.
"They're going to lose that," he said. "The rest of the stuff I can replace ... Even if I got replicas, they are not the same medals. They have to be those medals."
Legion also broken into
Along with his medals, the thieves took a series of keys hanging on hooks, including one to the Kindersley legion hall. The hall was also broken into over the weekend and alcohol was stolen.
Kindersley RCMP spokeswoman Meghan Mochoruk says no one has been arrested and investigators are not sure how many people were involved in the break-in.
Watson is considering offering a $500 reward for the return of his medals. He said he hopes someone who knows something about the break-in contacts police or that the medals are just dropped off somewhere in time for him to wear them on Remembrance Day.
"This Nov. 11 is going to be really hard if I don't have them."
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