Tuesday, November 28, 2006

November 27-06 They Begin Their Journey Home

We grieve alongside the families and friends of Chief Warrant Officer Robert Girouard and Corporal Albert Storm. They were two professional, dedicated Canadian soldiers, who made the ultimate sacrifice Monday in Afghanistan and will be greatly missed by their families, friends, military family -especially joint Task Force Afghanistan. Girouard and Storm died when a suicide car bomber drove his vehicle into a convoy of military vehicles on the outskirts of Kandahar on the highway to the Panjwaii district early Monday and detonated explosives. They were travelling in a Bison, an eight-wheeled armoured vehicle.

Chief Warrant Officer Robert Girouard
Chief Warrant Officer Robert Girouard , the Regimental Sergeant Major of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group (RCR), originally Bathurst, N.B., was a very senior Non-Commissioned Officer and a proven leader. Comrades speak highly of him and regard him as a dedicated leader. Joining the military right out of high school, he had previously served in Germany, Kosovo and Bosnia. His mother said: “"But he said they had to fight for peace in order for the rest of us to enjoy the life that we have,"Girouard, a 46 year old father of three( Robert Jr., 22, Jocelyn, 21, and Michael) and his wife Jacqueline had just purchased a home in Pembroke, Ont. Chief Warrant Officer Robert Girouard had been with his family just last week, finishing a three week leave from Afghanistan. They had celebrated an early Christmas together.

  • Remember Them

  • Corporal Albert Storm
    of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group in CFB Petawawa, On was just three years from retirement - a decorated soldier who served in trouble spots around the globe was a brave, dedicated and professional soldier. A Fort Erie, Ontario native, Cpl. Albert Storm was a 36-year-old father of two who liked to fish. He will be missed by his comrades, who have expressed he was "good-natured, a hard worker who could turn a driving job into an art - a good friend and will be missed."

    Both served valiantly against an enemy that uses arbitrary attacks to thwart any progress for the Afghan people to achieve their freedom and stability. No words can express the grief their loved ones must be feeling today. My heart and prayers go out to the family and friends and comrades of our fallen soldiers - our heros fighting to make the world a better and safer place - as they begin their journey back home.

    Cpl Albert Storm and Chief Warrant Officer Rober Girouard arrive at Trenton Airforce Base to the arms of their families.

    National Military CemeteryOtttawa, Ontario
    Members of the Bearer Party fold that flag that draped the coffin of fallen soldier CWO Girouard, RSM of 1st Bn RCR.
    An Interment Ceremony was held on December 6, 2006 at the National Military Ceremony for fallen soldier Chief Warrant Officer Robert Girouard. CWO Girouard was the Regimental Sergeant Major of the 1st Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment based in Petawawa. CWO Girouard and Corporal Albert Storm both died during an attack on their Bison light armoured vehicle just outside Kandahar, Afghanistan on November 27, 2006.
    Photo by: Master Corporal Jill Cooper, CFSU(O) Photo Services.

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    November 27-06 We Mourn

    __--------------------------------------(Photo by: Military Mom)

    NOVEMBER 27, 2006

    Our hearts are brought together as we mourn alongside our fellow military families upon learning of the news today at 6:51 am of two fallen Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan. Our prayers are with our families, as we, all mothers and fathers and families of all NATO Soldiers, stand together in prayer.

    From CTV:

    "Two Canadian soldiers are dead following a suicide bomber's attack on a military convoy in southern Afghanistan, officials confirmed Monday.
    "I have to announce that two Canadian soldiers were killed just outside Kandahar City," said the Commander of Canadian Forces in Southern Afghanistan Brig.-Gen. Tim Grant on Monday.
    "At about 8:30 this morning a suicide bomber attacked a Canadian convoy, detonating his vechicle and killing two Canadian soldiers."
    Grant said the attack took place about one kilometre outside Kandahar City. continued..."

    Our hearts and prayers go out to the families today.

    Saturday, November 25, 2006

    Donkey Mascot Enjoying Better Life with Canadian Engineers
    Saturday, November 25, 2006

    Now THAT'S a care package! :)

    Apparently it's providing great morale for the troops.

    A Canadian soldier strokes Tina, officially known as Regulator-1, in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan, Wednesday.

    As Reported by Bill Graveland Canadian Press
    PANJWAII, Afghanistan (CP) - A little white donkey has become the apple of the eye . . . for Canadian engineers in Panjwaii. Excuse the clumsy attempt at rhyming but Tina, officially known as Regulator-1 in military jargon, has troops here at this remote Canadian camp wrapped around her delicate little finger - make that hoof.
    Tina was purportedly purchased from a local farmer who had beaten her, to help carry supplies such as sandbags to the top of a mountain where an observation post is being built. But her workload has been non-existent, and now Tina has received some interesting news.
    "She is pregnant," confirmed medic Cpl. Shannon Fretter of Springhill, N.S.
    "The veterinarians in KAF (Kandahar Air Field) pretty much gave us the pregnancy stuff and one of the master corporals has been giving her some examinations and apparently she is pregnant."
    Of course being in a "delicate condition" means her workload will have to be lessened.
    "She never worked anyway," scoffed Fretter. "They put one sandbag on her just to make it look good. That's what she was for, but we baby her."
    Tina is so popular that personnel out in the field regularly inquire as to the welfare of Regulator-1 on the radio.
    For troops looking for anything to boost their morale, the little white donkey, who has less than a congenial disposition, is just what the doctor ordered.
    "She has a good life right now," said Sapper (Pte.) Jeff Quesnelle, 24, from Perkinsfield, Ont.
    "Just having an animal around ups morale. It's something you can give love to and we don't expect anything in return. It's like having our pets back at home here with us."
    "Even though it's a donkey and doesn't resemble a dog or a cat at all," he added, "it's something you can love."
    Tina is being royally spoiled by troops at the base and was being fed Pop-Tarts during the interviews.
    "She's not too happy this morning, but she was happy yesterday," worried Cpl. Jason Dunnett, 24, of Oshawa, Ont.
    "But everybody takes care of her and feeds her. She's more of a pet now than anything. She has a pen, we feed her hay and apples and oranges and I think we've given her a few Pop-Tarts obviously," he chuckled.
    Some of the engineers maintain Tina is still a working member of the unit, but the truth is out there.
    "We'd feel kind of bad if we started using her for things like sandbags and stuff like that. That's what we originally were going to do, but I think we took too much of a liking to her," he said.
    Of course if Tina does deliver a healthy baby jack or jenny, his/her regimental name is already laid out for her.
    "When the baby's born it's Regulator-1 Alpha," said Fretter.
    See story in entirety

    A Message from his Kindergarten Teacher

    A message had recently been passed to me from a friend who had a message from my son's Kindergarten teacher. (He has truly left impressions on those he meets.)
    To remember: "Nahum, Chapter 1, Verse 7" Unfortunately, not being able to recall from memory, and wanting to pass her message along, I got out my bible and looked it up. It said:
    Nahum, Chapter 1, Verse 7
    The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.
    Thank you Mrs. H. I do.
    ~From my son.

    Thursday, November 23, 2006

    University of Waterloo Supports our Troops

    November 22, 2006
    The Student Life Centre - a true meaning of the words. A place where many students congregated, hustling between classes, stopping for a bite to eat, meet with aquaintances, catching up on classwork or tonight.. taking a moment of their time to sign a banner that will be sent to our troops in Afghanistan. Almost all of the second side of the 32 foot was filled with well wishes, thank you's, and personal messages to people that are serving overseas that are probably their age - their peers. Peers helping to establish the security necessary to promote development in Afghanistan.

    Many students having signed the banner have pledged to Wear Red on Fridays. "HUA!"

    Friends Supporting Friends

    This message says it all. It's from a student whose home country was Afghanistan. Thank you Fatima. Bless you.
    The banner grew with well wishes. CF sanctioned items were for sale. A chance to purchase tshirts, magnets and pins!
    Friends say "Hi!"
    Wear Red on Fridays!
    Note to my son: Well I couldn't believe it. I found my way around the campus.. I only needed to stop to ask for directions a couple times :) haha I reflected as I walked past the gym. It was like a strange presence surrounding me as I stood in the SLC - a sense of many backflashes- Brubacher's, the big stairway, the hustle and bustle of students, yet it wasn't the same. When arriving at the table, I looked to the left and noticed this banner. I smiled and said, "I have to take a picture of this for my son" We'll have our perogies with the turkey, the pumpkin pie and the birthday cake :)

    I then looked below and saw this awning.. and then a comforting feeling filled my heart... a part of you was there with me... and I smiled while a tear trickled down my cheek.

    CTV's Merry Christmas Message from Families

    November 22-06

    "From Canada to Kandahar - Merry Christmas to our Heroes!"
    This evening, families from the Waterloo, Guelph and Hamilton Regions gathered at CTV as they were given the opportunity to send their sons a Merry Christmas Greeting! CTV is producing a special DVD which will be sent them in Afghanistan.
    It was an evening of reflections, smiles, support and tears. We were joined by Cpl Ryan Pagnacco who alongside his fiancee gave the troops words of support and well wishes.

    As well, Nicole Lampa will be featuring a segment on November 23rd on the greetings to our soldiers. Thank you CTV for giving us this opportunity to correspond with our sons and daughters at an important time of the year, a time when there will be an empty chair - a time many will reflect on past Christmases, yet looking forward to the future ones ahead. Our yellow ribbons await their return.

    Behind the scenes:

    "We're all Wrapped up in Support for our Heroes"
    (this 32 foot banner has been signed (both sides) by the many people of the Waterloo Region who have taken time to write a message of support to our troops. Thank you Waterloo Region! This banner will be forwarded soon to our troops in Afghanistan.

    Note to my son: I reflect on the past Christmases we cherished together, the snowy, stormy rides on the highway, the morning we awaken and "guess what's in the box" - I never could fool you with those noodles :) I will think of you as I look at the tree adorned with the yellow bows this year. Son, you're always in my heart and my love I send to you in my hugs in the wind. I love you always.

    Christmas Parade November 18-06

    November 18, 2006 Even Santa Wore Red!

    It was the morning of November 18th - the KW Santa Claus Parade! One of many days we shall remember our troops! The Families of Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan participated in the parade with a float . The focal point of the float was a tree adorned with a multitude of yellow bows, white lights and Canadian flags.

    The red sides were accented with garland, white lights, large yellow bows and the 32 foot banner - signed by the people of the Waterloo Region in support of our troops serving in Afghanistan.

    The "Families of Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan" warmed the cool air with pride - beaming from within. It was a day filled with comradery, hugs, glances and nods of "it's going to be o.k." and heartened support.Support not only from the soldiers' families, but from our Waterloo Region families as well - cheering and clapping as the float passed. The muffled claps were heard- muffled from mittens on that cool November morning. Little children looked up and would yell: "Merry Christmas" .. or "thank you" ( a thank you to our soldiers as conveyed from their parents standing behind them)

    Newly Re-elected Mayor of Kitchener, Carl Zehr and family stopped by to wish us well.

    Many thanks to Mr. Voison from Double R Steel Inc. for donating the use of his truck for the parade! And thank you Ken being our driver and assisting us in decorating - your devotion is truly appreciated by all!

    We're supportive and patriotic to our troops- our heroes!

    One of the soldier's moms was seen running full speed (no wonder her son is proud of her - she could pass the forces test hands down! :) she came running up the sidewalk, shouting greetings and words of support as she shivered alongside a co-worker in the cold November morning. I hope you caught my hug L.!

    Driving along King Street towards Kitchener. The support from the crowds was prevalent.



    Note to my son: Your phone call that morning meant the world to me - as it always does. I conveyed your message onto the "Families of Soldiers in Afghanistan" group. I really thought of what you said about dressing P. in red that morning and having him join us. However when there, I turned behind me to see which group was there.. and this is what I saw. (I can see you smiling:) Keep safe my son - I love you.

    (Kitchener Humane Society)

    Saturday, November 18, 2006

    Military Presence

    As the season approaches, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, children and friends think of their loveds ones overseas in Afghanistan. Remember our soldiers and all they have done and are doing for us. We love them and stand behind everything they are doing for us and our country... so brave.

    Give a family member a hug - remember them ..
    Please, would you do me a kind favour - write a letter or send a card to our soldiers - Christmas is coming soon. It's a small gesture for all our Canadian troops are doing for us. Let's stop and think of our heroes who are sacrificing themselves for us.

    Military Presence

    The embers glowed softly,
    and in their dim light,
    I gazed round the room
    and I cherished the sight.

    My wife was asleep,
    her head on my chest,
    My daughter beside me,
    angelic in rest.
    Outside the snow fell,
    a blanket of white,
    Transforming the yard
    to a winter delight

    The sparkling lights
    in the tree I believe,
    Completed the magic
    that was Christmas Eve.

    My eyelids were heavy,
    my breathing was deep,
    Secure and surrounded
    by love I would sleep.
    In perfect contentment,
    or so it would seem,
    So I slumbered,
    perhaps I started to dream.

    The sound wasn't loud,
    and it wasn't too near,
    But I opened my eyes
    when it tickled my ear.

    Perhaps just a cough,
    I didn't quite know,
    Then the sure sound of footsteps
    outside in the snow.

    My soul gave a tremble,
    I struggled to hear,
    And I crept to the door
    just to see who was near.

    Standing out in the cold
    and the dark of the night,
    A lone figure stood,
    his face weary and tight.

    A soldier, I puzzled,
    some twenty years old,
    Perhaps an engineer ,
    huddled here in the cold.

    Alone in the dark,
    he looked up and smiled,
    Standing watch over me,
    and my wife and my child.

    "What are you doing?"
    I asked without fear,
    "Come in this moment,
    it's freezing out here!

    Put down your pack,
    brush the snow from your sleeve,
    You should be at home
    on a cold Christmas Eve!"

    For barely a moment
    I saw his eyes shift,
    Away from the cold
    and the snow blown in drifts..

    To the window that danced
    with a warm fire's light
    Then he sighed and he said
    "Its really all right,
    I'm out here by choice.
    I'm here every night."

    "It's my duty to stand
    at the front of the line,
    That separates you
    from the darkest of times.

    No one had to ask
    or beg or implore me,
    I'm proud to stand here
    like my fathers before me.

    My Gramp s died at war
    on a day in December,"
    Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas
    'Gram always remembers."

    My dad stood his watch
    in the jungles of 'Nam',
    And now it is my turn
    and so, here I am.

    I've not seen my own son
    in more than a while,
    But my wife sends me pictures,
    he's sure got her smile.

    Then he bent and he carefully
    pulled from his bag,
    The red and white
    ... a Canadian flag.

    I can live through the cold
    and the being alone,
    Away from my family,
    my house and my home.

    I can stand at my post
    through the rain and the sleet,
    I can sleep in a foxhole
    with little to eat.

    I can carry the weight
    of killing another,
    Or lay down my life
    with my sister and brother.

    Who stand at the front
    against any and all,
    To ensure for all time
    that this flag will not fall."

    "So go back inside,"
    he said, "harbor no fright,
    Your family is waiting
    and I'll be all right."

    "But isn't there something
    I can do, at the least,
    "Give you money,"
    I asked,
    "or prepare you a feast?

    It seems all too little
    for all that you've done,
    For being away
    from your wife and your son."

    Then his eye welled a tear
    that held no regret,
    "Just tell us you love us,
    and never forget.

    To fight for our rights
    back at home while we're gone,
    To stand your own watch,
    no matter how long.

    For when we come home,
    either standing or dead,
    To know you remember
    we fought and we bled.

    Is payment enough,
    and with that we will trust,
    That we mattered to you
    as you mattered to us."

    Saturday, November 11, 2006

    In Flanders Fields

    In Flanders Fields

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow

    Between the crosses, row on row,

    That mark our place; and in the sky

    The larks, still bravely singing, fly

    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the dead. Short days ago

    We lived, saw dawn, felt sunset glow,

    Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

    In Flanders fields.

    Take up your quarrel with the foe:

    To you from failing hands we throw

    The torch; be yours to hold it high.

    If ye break faith with us who die

    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

    In Flanders fields.

    By: John McCrae

    Friday, November 10, 2006

    Remembrance Day - Show Them You Rememer

    November 11th - Remembrance Day is Tomorrow
    Show Them You Remember

    Take the time to..

    • Thank our veterans for the sacrifices they have made.

    • Thank those who fought in wars, as well as those who are fighting the current war in Afghanistan, protecting our freedom.

    • Thank those who left their families to battle in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

    • Thank those who did battle on the ground,in the the air and in the seas.

    • Thank those most importantly, who didn't return.

    • Thank them for their sacrifices, it's not the only day veterans should be thanked, but it's the least we can do to honour those who fought.

    On November 11th, attend your local Remembrance Day service.

    I've listed some below ( 3 in Cambridge!)

    The Waterloo Region Band and Waterloo Concert Band will take part in a parade from the Royal Canadian Legion hall to the cenotaph. The parade will leave the legion hall at 10 a.m.
    Waterloo MPP Elizabeth Witmer will provide the address.

    The legion branch in Kitchener will hold its annual Remembrance Day Parade.
    The parade leaves Kitchener City Hall at 10:40 a.m. and arrives at Duke and Frederick streets for a wreath-laying ceremony at 10:55 a.m.

    Cambridge (Galt)
    In the Galt area of Cambridge, a parade will leave the Galt legion hall on Veterans Way at 10:10 a.m., march to the cenotaph at Queen's Square for a wreath-laying ceremony at 10:35 a.m. and later return to the club for a celebration which is open to the public.

    Cambridge (Preston)
    A parade will leave the Preston legion at Westminster and Margaret streets at 10:30 a.m. Coffee will be served at the clubhouse following a service at the cenotaph on King Street.

    Cambridge (Hespler)
    The legion in Hespeler will hold a ceremony and lay wreaths starting at 10 a.m. at the cenotaph at Queen and Tannery streets near the former post office in Hespeler.

    Other Activities following the ceremonies:

    A Remembrance Day concert at 11 a.m. will be included in the Love of Music Marathon, held at First United Church in Waterloo from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is a fundraiser for the KW Symphony. For more information, call Joanne Bender at 519-885-0319.

    The non-profit group Families of Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan will be raising awareness at the Wings of Paradise Butterfly Conservatory on Saturday and Sunday. Veterans will receive free admission all weekend, and anyone wearing a red T-shirt will get in for half-price.

    A display of approximately 200 British and Canadian medals and decorations continues until Nov. 24 at the Waterloo Regional headquarters building on Frederick Street in Kitchener. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.

    Thursday, November 09, 2006

    My Son Is A Soldier

    My son is a soldier

    I can reveal this with pride

    the fear is hidden just below

    the surface, I confide

    He's a real Canadian hero

    Who believes in democracy

    yet there is an inner whisper
    that wants him here with me

    I am honored to be his mother
    I brag of him through the day
    but I can't help but wonder
    how he's doing far away?

    I wear a yellow support ribbon
    Upon my collar every day
    with the phone at my bedside, I bow my head,
    for the soldier, my son, I pray.

    I love you.

    Wednesday, November 08, 2006

    Sunday, November 5th, 2006

    Sunday, November 5th, 2006 - What a Glorious Day!

    The weather was nice, a little chilly however the warmth from the people congregating this day superceded any notions of the chill.

    A community came together this day - a day veterans would be honouored as a Canadian Veterans' Memorial was unveiled at Waterloo Veteran's Green Park.

    The buses arrived... and the day began as a parade formed at the King and Central Sts in Waterloo. A parade of veterans, regular and reserve force military personnel, cadets, politicians, band members and Families of Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan marched north from King and Central streets at 12:30 p.m. to the Veterans Green Memorial Park on University Avenue. Military vehicles drove along King Street as the sound of bagpipes, drums, applause and cheers echoed in the air.

    31 Combat Engineer Regiment Waterloo
    (Many of their comrades are serving overseas at this time.)

    Families of Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan
    bringing with them a banner to be signed by all.
    It will be sent to the troops overseas, our future veterans.
    We honour our veterans and families
    - past, present and future.

    Preceding the ceremony, honourable tributes included
    fly-pasts from historical military warplanes.

    It was moving as officers of the Waterloo Regional Police Services saluted us as we proceeded along the parade route.

    Veterans braved the cold, saluting as we passed.

    Four Harvard planes dating back to the Second World War soared over University Avenue as the procession made its way to Veterans' Green.

    Good Friends

    "People should always remember that countries achieve their highest when they remember those who sacrificed their lives for peace," said George Sim, a chaplain who had served in Europe during World War II.

    Cpl. Ryan Pagnacco of Waterloo, who was wounded in Afghanistan in a friendly-fire incident, took part yesterday in the ceremonies at Veterans' Green in Waterloo. It was an emotional day, a tear seen trickling down his cheek as he piped the Last Post Lament preceeding the moment of silence.
    "Thank you Piper. What an honour, to hear you, see you and speak with you. I have conveyed your message to my son."

    An eloquent speaker, Renee Murray-White, whose son James White is serving in Afghanistan, told the crowd it was her son's 20th birthday that day. She thanked the veterans for their service and said they are beams from the past that shine on the future. "You defined a nation and guaranteed our freedom," she said.

    Mr. Mac Voisin, Honourary Chairman of the Canadian Veterans Memorial spoke to the crowd.

    Many guests included His Honour James K. Bartleman-Lt. Governor of Ontario, Kathryn Shawcross-Damman, MP Andrew Telegdi, Region of Waterloo Chair Ken Seiling, Mayor Herb Epp, Dr. Gary Steinhoff, Veteran Mr. Leighton Steinhoff, Artist TimothyP. Schmalz and Honourary Chairman Mac Voisin.

    Here a veteran is seen writing well wishes to the soldiers serving in Afghanistan - the soldiers, our future veterans. The 32 foot banner brought by Families of Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan, provided many grateful veterans, reservists, cadets, veterans, delegates, parents and children a chance to convey their wishes our sons and daughters overseas.

    Deemed as Canada's First Multi-Dimensional Tribute to Veterans, a breathtaking, first-of-its-kind memorial honouring Canadian veterans from every war in which Canada has fought, was unveiled. This spectacular work-of-art, named The Canadian Veterans' Memorial, is carved in a timeline formation. The sculpture is 15 feet high and 23 feet long and depicts the likeness of more than 200 men and women who served in battles, from the War of 1812 to the war in Afghanistan.

    Timothy Schmalz, who created the three-tonne statue in Thailand over the past year, told the crowd he looked at hundreds of photos of soldiers during the process. "I saw fear, I saw absolute courage, I saw happiness and I saw pain. And I wanted to put that all in one sculpture," he said.
    "By using hundreds of black and white photos of men and women that served in the wars, I created a collage of not only uniforms, but human emotion on this bronze statue," says Schmalz. "In the sculpture, more than two hundred figures descend from a heavenly perspective to present an aged veteran who, in turn, presents a poppy, the symbol of remembrance. In the statue, as in real life, the veteran acts as a link to our history."
    Once again, I say "Thank you Timothy, for creating such a spectacular, eternal creation for all to memorialize our veterans. And yes as promised, I'll bring my son, to show him your work and reflect on our conversation... as soon as he's home."

    The Canadian Veterans' Memorial can be seen at:
    Veterans' Green Park,
    50 University Avenue West, Waterloo.
    (at University and Hazel Sts.)