David Evans, a veteran of the 13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary’s Own) had been invited to spend the day at Catterick Garrison, where he unveiled a centrepiece statue of a stone-carved locomotive on the camp’s central roundabout.
It had been commissioned as a memorial to the tens of thousands of soldiers who arrived at the old Catterick Bridge railway station to begin training for the trenches during the First World War.
Statues of a soldier and of Lord Baden-Powell, who created the camp in 1914, were also unveiled.
Mr Evans, who lives in Leyburn, said he was “honoured and humbled” to unveil the work.
“It is a powerful piece that will remind generation after generation of the sacrifices that have been made over the years,” he said.
“The military has meant everything to me since I joined up as a 17-year-old, so this comes as a wonderful birthday present.”
The Garrison commander, Lt Col Joe Jordan said the statue was “a masterpiece that will live on through generation after generation”.