Friends, family remember Ernie Hall after verdict comes down
Sean Chase/Daily Observer Chief Warrant Officer Ernie Hall helps 42nd Field Regiment commanding officer Lt.-Col. Dave Wiley (centre) promote Sgt. Shane Learning to lieutenant during the unit's change of command in 2011. Hall was a veteran of 39 years service with the Canadian Forces.
Ernie Hall deployed to some of the most dangerous places in the world over his remarkable 39-year career in the military. However, the accomplished infantryman and expert paratrooper innocently lost his life on a darkened street outside the Pembroke Memorial Centre after leaving a hockey game.
Family and friends of the retired Chief Warrant Officer expressed gratitude Thursday upon hearing the guilty conviction of Martial Laverdure, the driver who struck Hall on the night of Jan. 11, 2015 fatally injuring him.
“For somebody who spent 39 years defending the country, justice needed to be served,” his brother, Pete Hall, said after Justice Martin James had rendered his decision.
A native of Lanark, Ontario, Ernie Hall enrolled in the forces in 1975. Following a peacekeeping tour of Cyprus with the 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, he was assigned to the Canadian Airborne Regiment serving as a section commander and pathfinder detachment second-in-command until 1986. He was subsequently posted to the RCR Battle School and Baden Soellingen in Germany. However, Hall’s numerous foreign deployments included places like Cyprus, Bosnia, Croatia, and Eritrea. He also served in the Persian Gulf War in 1990.
“He was in pretty much every skirmish since 1975 and went up as far as you can go in the military,” said Hall. ““He was so quiet about his accomplishments that you had to pry it out of him. He didn’t brag about anything. He just didn’t want to broadcast it. We’re pretty proud of him.”
Promoted to chief warrant officer in 2005, Hall was appointed the Infantry Corps career manager before returning to Petawawa as the regimental sergeant-major (RSM) of the 3rd Battalion. From 2008 to 2009, he served as the RSM for the 3RCR Battle Group in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He retired in 2014 after serving as the RSM of the Pembroke-based 42nd Field Regiment. His former colleagues lament over the fact Hall will not enjoy the retirement he had worked so hard towards.
“He was a distinguished gentleman and a war hero,” said retired Master Warrant Officer Ken Miles, a friend of Hall’s since 1976. “He served in every conflict you could think of. He took a battle group to Afghanistan and brought his guys back. So for him to come out of a hockey game ... it’s just hard for guys to wrap their heads around.”
Miles credited assistant Crown attorney Caitlin Downing will securing the conviction and also thanked the police investigators and civilian witnesses who testified during the seven-day trial. He especially appreciated those soldiers, who served under Hall in Kandahar, and who rushed to his aid the night of the accident.
“To see their boss lying in the road after what they saw in Afghanistan, you can’t put it into words,” added Miles.
Hall volunteered with the Salvation Army soup kitchen and the Lions Club Blind Anglers International Tournament. A supporter and long-time member of the Canadian Army Veterans motorcycle club, Hall served as a riding unit vice-president in 2009. He was invested as a Member of the Order of Military Merit in 2005 and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 2010.
The former RSM was buried at Beechwood National Cemetery on Jan. 24, 2015, the day he was scheduled to fly to Mexico for a vacation with some retired army buddies. His funeral with full honours was a courtesy only extended to flag officers.
“That shows you what kind of distinguished career Ernie had,” said Miles.
Ernie Hall is survived by son, Michael, and daughter, Nicole. On behalf of the family, Miles also extended thanks to the community and the Royal Canadian Regiment, in particular, for their continued support of the Hall family.