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'Blessing of the Pete’ Rekindles Moving Soldier Memorial

BROSSARD, QC — “Tabarnouche I was so surprised I could hardly believe what I saw.” Owner-operator Raynald Bouthillier is talking about his reaction to events Wednesday afternoon when he stopped by Creations Jules shop to pick up his freshly painted 2005 Peterbilt Classic 379.

On hand inside the studio waited a small crowd, including a handful of soldiers; two clergy members (one to pray in each official language) a bag piper, some friends and acquaintances and two very special couples, who really wanted to simply touch Bouthillier’s truck.

Like Raynald and his wife Elaine Bouthillier, the two couples had both lost sons to the fighting in Afghanistan.

Because the Bouthillier’s truck carries the names of all 158 Canadian fatalities on the back of the sleeper berth, the parents just wanted to express their gratitude and literally run their hands over their sons’ names.

“Yes, it was kinda moving,” Bouthillier says.

If at this point you’re thinking ‘haven’t I read this somewhere before? Like when it was news?’ You’d be partly right.

The Hearst, ON- based Bouthilliers lost their son Jack to a land mine in Afghanistan in early 2009. And at that time, in his honor, Raynald and Elaine painted a Pete 379 with the names of all the lost soldiers emblazoned on the rear. (Jack’s 20-year-old face graces the sides of the sleeper.)

That project attracted media attention (including from Today’s Trucking and various TV outlets) and the truck became a familiar site around Ontario and Quebec, piloted mostly by Raynald’s friend and trusted driver Luis Dufour. The driver became accustomed to attracting attention and thumbs-ups from passers-by.

But then, on Dec.14, 2010, on an icy road near the tiny Northern Ontario village of Moonbeam, a car driver lost control and veered into Dufour’s lane. His load of logs came crashing through the rig. Dufour miraculously suffered just a few minor injuries and the woman was unscathed.

The truck? Totalled.

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Filed Under: Raynald Bouthillier Tribute truck Soldiers
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Maureen Heffernan

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I appologize for my typo of the spelling of the Bouthillier's name, in my comment.

Maureen Heffernan

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This is a beautiful, warm story of courage, good and caring people. To me this town, the people, the Buthilliers are what Canada is about, showing our true Canadian spirit.

Anonymous

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As a retired Vet of 28 years it makes me very proud to see this type of support. We must never lose sight of the sacrifice our Service people regularly make as part of their job. The other critical piece of the puzzle is the Families of our Service people who endure the anxiety, lonliness and stress from having a loved one deployed for extended periods. God Bless the families and those that keep the movement alive!

Anonymous

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Hi ! That is a very good thing to see people do stuff like that to honor their son but also all the others who made the scarifice of giving their life for thew others .

Anonymous

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The devotion that Raynald and Elaine have to remember Jack and other Fallen Soldiers is beyond many expectations. We are very proud of Raynald, Élaine and Michelle Bouthillier's achievements and support them in their quest. The first truck was a challenge to organize with the wrap, the second wrapping gives a stronger message from the family, to stand tall and be strong what ever happens in life, keep on fighting and caring for others. We all need support. Many parents, across Canada, of fallen soldiers will find the moral support through the Bouthillier's actions to rebuild the 2005 Peterbilt Classic 379. Lise Charron and the Bouthillier are friends since many years, both from Hearst, Ontario, it is an honour to call them our friends. Their path in life brought them back closer as friends who are spreading the message of support for the troops. Fantastique work Raynald, Élaine and Michelle, we support you all the way. Lise keep up the amazing work that you are doing, you are a wonderful caring person on a beautiful journey. Marcel

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