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Former Royal Regina Rifle troop member honoured with official headstone marking

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Swift Current, Sask. -

Family members and military officials gathered Friday in Swift Current for one final salute to a former Royal Regina Rifle troop member.

“The last time I saw him, he was putting me on the train from Swift Current to go back to Montreal,” said Mariette Leblanc, Rifleman Dennis Denniel’s niece.

Rifleman Denniel served in WWII with the Regina Rifles, one of the many regiments that landed on Juno Beach on D-Day.

He was wounded in battle and was later discharged. Denniel settled in Swift Current and passed away in 1968 at 51-years-old.

His was buried in the Field of Honour at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Swift Current with his gravesite marked with a white wooden cross and a metal plate. His name, however, was misspelled and it stayed that way 56 years.

“At the veterans plot and the surrounding cemeteries, I found 22 unmarked graves. From that, I began my research to identify those folks and confirmed that they were actual veterans that were entitled to a permanent marker,” said Brad Hrycyna, a volunteer researcher with the Last Post Fund’s Unmarked Graves Program.

Denniel has become the first gravesite in the Field of Honour to receive a permeant headstone.

“It’s terrific for the family to see a relative honoured and remembered that way,” added Hrycyna.

“All of this is just absolutely wonderful. I just have no words to describe,” explained Leblanc.

The ceremony also coincided with the 80th anniversary of D-Day coming up on June 6.

“We asked the last post fund if they would be willing to arrange to have the stone be placed just before D-Day so that we could have an event around D-Day so that the event can be linked here and also with France overseas,” said Col. Randy Brooks, a retired veteran with the Royal Regina Rifles.

There are 12 other markers in the plot that have been submitted to receive a permanent headstone.

Five are believed to be allied veterans and still need to be certified as a troop member, leaving four that are still unknown. 

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