Monday, December 31, 2007

Canadian Soldier Killed - Four Others Wounded in Afghanistan

He Is Coming Home
It is with sadness that we announce another fallen Canadian soldier, especially at a time when people are celebrating the incoming of the New Year to which Gunner Dion was enroute to KAF (only 20 kms away) to join his fellow soldiers in doing so as well. God Bless.

December 30th, 2007 - At approximately 9:10 a.m. local time (in Kandahar) today, one Canadian soldier was killed when the Armoured Vehicle he was in struck a suspected Improvised Explosive Device. Four other Canadian soldiers were also injured.The incident occurred during a routine patrol, approximately 20 km West of Kandahar city, in the Zharey District. Helicopters were used to evacuate the soldiers to the Multinational Medical Unit at Kandahar Airfield. The wounded soldiers are in stable condition and have contacted their families.
The identity of the deceased soldier is Gunner Jonathan Dion. Gunner Dion was 27 years old and a member of 5th Regiment d'Artillerie legere du Canada, based in Valcartier, Quebec.

The thoughts and prayers of the men and women of the Canadian Forces and families of soldiers go out to the family and friends of the Gunner Dion.

To Send Condolences to the Dion Family or View the Guest Book, click below:

Statement from the Minister of National Defence
The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, issued the following statement today on the death of a Canadian soldier and the wounding of four others in Afghanistan:"I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Gunner Jonathan Dion, who was killed today in Afghanistan. I also wish a quick recovery to the four other soldiers injured in this incident.Gunner Dion was an exceptional Canadian who deserves the utmost gratitude and respect of this nation. This is a tragic loss for Canada and the Canadian Forces.

These soldiers were participating in a patrol in southern Afghanistan when their armoured vehicle struck a suspected improvised-explosive device. The patrol was part of Canada's efforts in this region aimed at creating the conditions necessary to allow reconstruction and development in a country devastated by decades of war and turmoil."

My further note:
In some reports I have heard, they have reported him as being a reservist and not "full time". Let me set this straight. This was not the reason of his demise. Gunner Dion was a SOLDIER.. trained and prepared to expectations of the Department of Defence...leaving his career, job, his family, his friends on hold while serving overseas with all and alongside all... his military family.

En Francais..

Fin d’année difficile pour les militaires de Valcartier en Afghanistan. Un autre soldat québécois, l’artilleur Jonathan Dion, âgé de 27 ans, a été tué dimanche par l’explosion d’une bombe artisanale. Quatre autres militaires ont aussi été blessés.
L’accident est survenu peu après 9h dimanche matin, à 20 km à l’ouest de Kandahar dans le district de Zhari. Les militaires prenaient place à bord d’un T-LAV, un blindé léger sur chenilles, lors d’une patrouille de routine lorsque le véhicule a roulé sur un engin explosif. Les militaires ont été évacués par hélicoptère et transportés à l’hôpital de la base militaire de Kandahar, où le soldat Dion est décédé peu après son arrivée. Les blessés sont quant à eux dans un état stable et ont pu téléphoner à leur famille. L’un d’eux a même reçu son congé de l’hôpital.Jonathan Dion, du 5e Régiment d’artillerie légère, s’était enrôlé dans les Forces armées canadiennes en janvier 2005, a indiqué dimanche Bruno Tremblay, officier d’affaires publiques à la base de Valcartier. Il s’était envolé pour l’Afghanistan en août et en était à sa première mission à l’étranger. Le jeune homme, né à Val d’Or, en Abitibi, a par la suite grandi à Gatineau. La famille n’a pas encore indiqué quelles informations elle souhaitait divulguer sur leur proche, a ajouté le lieutenant Tremblay.La mort de ce soldat porte à 74 le nombre de militaires canadiens tués en Afghanistan depuis le début de la mission, en 2002. Les derniers décès dans les rangs des soldats de Valcartier remontent à la mi-novembre, au moment où deux militaires ont perdu la vie lorsque leur véhicule blindé a roulé sur un engin explosif. Depuis le déploiement des troupes de Valcartier cet été en sol afghan, six militaires québécois y ont perdu la vie.«Nous sommes attristés par la perte tragique de notre frère d’armes», a déclaré le brigadier-général Guy Laroche, à la base de Kandahar. «Nous porterons le deuil. Nous l’honorerons et nous le garderons dans nos mémoires. Ce faisant, nous continuerons, avec la même résolution, notre mission d’aider le peuple afghan à trouver la paix et la stabilité.»À la base militaire de Valcartier, un communiqué a été émis dimanche en fin de journée. «Nous avons perdu plus qu’un collègue aujourd’hui, nous avons perdu un frère, a déclaré le lieutenant-colonel Dany Fortin, commandant du 5e Régiment d’artillerie légère. Nos cœurs sont avec la famille et les amis de ce brave soldat. Nos esprits se portent par ailleurs vers nos collègues toujours présents en Afghanistan qui, professionnels et fiers, continuent à aider les Afghans au quotidien.»Comme à l’habitude dans ce genre de circonstances, le premier ministre Stephen Harper a transmis ses condoléances à la famille du soldat Dion par voie de communiqué, tout comme le ministre de la Défense, Peter MacKay. Le premier ministre Jean Charest a quant à lui tenu à souligner «le courage et la bravoure de ceux et celles qui servent en Afghanistan pour venir en aide aux

The repatriation ceremony for fallen Canadian soldier Gunner Jonathan Dion, 27, of 5th Régiment d'Artillerie légère du Canada, based in Valcartier, Québec is tentatively scheduled for:

Wednesday, Jananuary 2nd, 2008

2 p.m.

at CFB Trenton

In attendance will be General Rick Hillier and Defence Minister Peter MacKay.
Please join in honouring Gunner Dion on overpasses along the Highway of Heroes (Hwy 401 west of Trenton to Toronto)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Some soldiers sang Christmas carols Monday night on the main drag in this sprawling military base. Others hurried off to the Canadian Christmas party for their seasonal beer ration.
Still others filed into the airfield chapel for Catholic and Protestant services led by the top military chaplains in the Canadian Forces. It's looking like Christmas in Kandahar - however without a speck of snow in sight, Canadian troops say it just doesn't quite feel like it.
Christmas trees and colourful lights have been popping up across Kandahar Airfield and at military bases throughout the province in the lead up to the holidays.
Carols, festive fare, dance parties, and king can beer rations have even been plentiful this Christmas Eve.

Sitting at his observation post high over Panjwaii District, in Kandahar province,
Pte. James Arnal reads a Christmas card sent to him.

Missing Family
"I must say it started getting harder (the day before Christmas Eve)," the Capt. Patrick Hannan, Sorel, Que., resident said as he and fellow soldiers accepted a gift of some $70,000 worth of hockey equipment donated by a Calgary-based sporting-goods company.
"Once your family starts moving around and celebrating and you're all alone here, before that the morale was pretty good but now that it's Christmas Eve and the family is celebrating, it's hard."
It's difficult spending Christmas without family. It's difficult sitting in a church listening to Christmas carols without shedding a tear, walking in a store and hearing "I'll be Home for Christmas", unwrapping gifts and wondering how your loved one is doing overseas.. if he or she is enjoying their Christmas care package sent with care and love. You miss them at dinner when their place is sitting empty - yet raise a glass of cheer in their honour and bow your heads and pray for them. Since we can't pick up the phone to call them, we wait and when that phone rings with that distinctive number that has now become familiar at this point of the tour... we become overjoyed - we welcome their voices, send our love and wishing them a them a Merry Christmas - yet yearn to hug them.
Merry Christmas to all our Soldiers serving throughout the world today.
God Bless and Keep Safe.
And to all Military Families awaiting home - with my heart, I'd like to extend my wishes for a Merry Christmas Season - you are not alone- we're all here with you.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Canadian NORAD Region Names Santa's Escort Pilots

As Christmas gets closer, the Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Region has put the finishing touches on plans to track and escort Santa Claus when he visits Canada by naming four CF-18 fighter pilots as his official escorts.
Capts. Dave Moar and Craig Sharp of 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta., and Capts. Colin Marks and Yannick Jobin of 3 Wing Bagotville, Que., will take on the responsibility of welcoming Santa when he arrives in Canada on his annual Christmas Eve journey, and escorting him safely through Canadian airspace.
The pilots will also take photos and video of Santa and his sleigh using special NORAD SantaCams mounted on their aircraft. The SantaCams instantly download the photo and video imagery so that it may be viewed by children worldwide on the NORAD Tracks Santa website,, on December 24. All of this information will be available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.
In coordination with the North Pole, NORAD has been informed that Santa intends to begin his journey at 4 a.m. EST, on Dec. 24. The Canadian Air Defence Sector Operations Centre at 22 Wing in North Bay, Ont., will alert NORAD when their radars detect Santa entering Canadian airspace. Two CF-18 Hornet fighter jets from 3 Wing will welcome Santa as he enters Canadian airspace off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. As Santa flies across Canada from east to west, two CF-18 Hornets from 4 Wing will escort him out of Canadian airspace and turn over escort duties to the Continental U.S. NORAD Region so that he may continue his Yuletide trip.Children can also receive updates on Santa's Christmas Eve journey by calling the traditional "NORAD Tracks Santa" telephone hotline at 1-877-HI NORAD, or by emailing NORAD at
Last year, the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center was staffed by more than 750 volunteers on Christmas Eve, who answered nearly 65,000 phone calls and 9,600 emails from children around the world.
NORAD uses a network of ground-based radars, sensors, air-to-air refuelling tankers, and fighter jets to detect, intercept and, if necessary, engage any threats to the continent. NORAD personnel are on duty 24 hours a day protecting North America.

NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center
Beginning at 2:00 am MTN on Christmas Eve, you can track Santa Live as he makes his historic journey around the world! This is exciting, as Santa travels fast and NORAD Santa Cams take photos of Santa and his reindeer!

Download Google Earth in preparation for tracking Santa in 3D on Christmas Eve.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

When my son was overseas (although I had great confidence and pride in him) tears came easily. This video reminds me of one of those times. I was picking up a few things at the grocery store and this song come over their intercom. I stopped and the tears wouldn't stop. And do you know what? Everytime I went into a store, it was like fate - this same song came on. I know whow difficult a season this is for military families and friends to go through at this time. My thoughts are with you throughout your deployment and especially through our Christmas Season.
The song? "I'll be home for Christmas" by: Michael Buble
Many thanks go out to "heresastraw" for creating this video for us to see.

Canadian Forces Snowbirds Announce 2008 Season


The Canadian Forces Snowbirds were delighted to announce their 2008 show season schedule December11 in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America, during the International Council of Air Shows Convention."We are looking forward to a fantastic 2008 Season and to flying Canada's colours across North America," said Major Robert Mitchell, Commanding Officer, Canadian Forces Snowbirds. "Both in the air and on the ground, we remain committed to strive and represent the best of the Canadian Forces and to preserve our tradition of excellence."During the 2008 Season, the Snowbirds are scheduled to participate in 65 air shows in 43 locations, proudly telling the Canadian Forces story through their inspirational flying and engaging team members. The team is also scheduled to conduct fly pasts of the following significant Canadian events: Canada Day, Calgary Stampede, The Formula 1 and Edmonton Grand Prix.As ambassadors of the Canadian Forces and Canada, the team will travel as far North as Yellowknife, N.W.T., as far South as Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as far West as Victoria, B.C. and as far East as Halifax, N.S. The team is also looking forward to celebrating the 400th anniversary of Quebec City, Que., 14 and 15 June and to performing in their hometown of Moose Jaw, Sask., 23 August.During the team's 38-year history, the Snowbirds have performed in about 2,100 air shows, before more than 125 million spectators.The Canadian Forces Snowbirds' mission is to represent the professionalism, skill and teamwork of the Canadian Forces and to inspire Canadians to consider an exciting career in Canada's military.For a complete list of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds' show sites, please visit the team's website at or

If you ever get a chance to see the Canadian Snowbirds.. do so! It's an exasperating experience watching the precise and difficult synchronized manoevers of the pilots of this team. I can't wait.. See you at the Air Show! ~ m.m.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kitchener Woman Sends Care Packages to Troops

Hearts and Packages Sent to Our Troops -
I had noticed that a friend, Lt (N) Terri-Leigh Saunders had been pretty busy lately. She had been busy preparing care packages for the troops! I have posted some of her pictures through this entry.

Photo credits: Terri-Leigh (thank you for sharing them with us- you're a true inspiration to all)

Care (comfort) Packages are ready to go!

"I had a really great time putting them together!" said Terri-Leigh. She had already been preparing a care package for her friend - and continued packing.. for many others.

What actually sparked it was an officer that she served with out west, Lt (N) Jean Cyr. Her husband is also a Lt (N) and is currently serving in Afghanistan. He was noticing that a lot of his troops weren't receiving anything! No cards, no care packages, nothing! He got in touch with other CO's in the area and was hearing the same thing.

In turn, they compiled a last of names for troops who had not received a single piece of mail or anything since arriving in Afghanistan. All together there was about 250 names!

Cyr got in touch with other officers she knew. The challenge was on - get cadets involved with supporting our troops. Since the cadet unit Terri-Leigh works with is rather small, doing up many care packages was challenging. Every cadet signed Christmas Cards for everyone on the list!
From there, she approached the Naval Association in Waterloo for additional support for care packages. With donations from the Naval Association and Ladies Auxiliary, as well as personal donations from members they ended up with about $750.00!

Terri-Leigh then used that money to purchase items to go in all the care packages, as well as the stockings and the t-shirts (They were $25.00 each with $5.00 from each shirt going to the Juno Beach Centre in memory of fallen comrades)

They purchased many items in bulk quantities (cost effective) and some things were donated.

Each package in the end ended up being worth about $85.00.

"Like I said, it was really fun putting the packages together. Each one also got a card, and a letter. I was already doing up a package for my friend CFS Alert so this was just added fun! After the holidays we're going to see how many are left that didn't receive packages, or if we can send additional ones." said Terri-Leigh.
On behalf of military families, a big HUA and THANK YOU goes out to Lt. (N) Terri-Leigh Saunders, Lt (N) Jean Cyr, her husband, the CO's overseas, the Waterloo Naval Association, Ladies' Auxilliary and Cadets!
Merry Christmas!
***** Note: If you have any care package pictures or stories, send them to me at and I'll publish your story.*****

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kite Runner Boys Exit Afghanistan

Kite Runner Actor Ahmed Khan

The four child stars of The Kite Runner have been flown out of Afghanistan over concerns for their safety, the makers of the film have said.
The boys arrived in the United Arab Emirates last week, confirmed Megan Colligan from Paramount Vantage.
The move comes amid worries the actors could be targeted over a homosexual rape scene in the film.
The Kite Runner is based on the 2003 best-selling novel by Afghan-American writer Khaled Hosseini.
Film executives said they felt they should get the boys out of the country before the film opened in the US on 14 December.
'Safe and stable'
Paramount had delayed the release of the film by six weeks over fears for the stars' safety.
"Last Friday, the four child actors from The Kite Runner left Afghanistan following the recommendations of several non-government organizations and Afghan experts concerning their security," the film company said in a statement.
"Their safety and well-being has always been our utmost concern and we are thrilled we were able to get them to a safe and stable location."
The Kite Runner tells the story of a young boy living through the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of the Taleban.
The harrowing scene - in which the novel's protagonist witnesses his best friend being raped but fails to intervene - is a pivotal moment in the story.
Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada, who plays the victim of the attack in the film, has earned glowing reviews, with the New York Times describing it as being "among the great child performances on film".
Although The Kite Runner is not scheduled for release in Afghanistan, there are concerns that pirated DVDs could reach Kabul and some residents could react violently to the controversial scenes.
There are also fears that the film could stir tensions for playing on stereotypes of Afghan ethnic groups.
Another reason our troops are present.

Author Khaled Hosseini website

HTAC - Help the Afghan Children

Monday, December 10, 2007

400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron Gives Santa's Elves a Lift for Sick Kids

Members of 400 (City Of Toronto) Tactical Helicopter Squadron will give Santa's elves a lift to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children on Tuesday, Dec. 11. The flight is part of Operation Sick Kids HO HO HO.
A Griffon helicopter, nicknamed "Rudolph," will leave Canadian Forces Base Borden at 12:45 p.m. and travel to Toronto, piloted by Lieutenant-Colonel Doug Moodie, the squadron's commanding officer. It will land at the hospital helicopter pad with six of Santa's elves, along with a load of toys, books and donations.
Griffon overview
Local businesses in Barrie, Borden and Alliston, as well as the military community provided all donations for this event. The elves will also read to the children in the hospital's reading room at 2 p.m.
A big HUA for members of 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron!!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Christmas Greetings from CF Deployed Soldiers in Afghanistan

With assistance of the Department of Defence, our troops currently deployed in Afghanistan and the Arabian Gulf have sent Holiday Season Greetings for families and friends. I have posted them below for you to see (and I will continue posting as I get the videos). All I ask is, if you know families of the soldiers below, could you please share this with them.Thank you. ~ m.m.
Message 1 Holiday Greetings from: Bdr Christopher Coelho, Bdr Matthew Flynn, Capt Brandy McKenna, Capt Carolyn Gervais, Capt. Giles McClintock, Capt. Stan French, Capt. Yvonne Brierley, Civ. Janet Harrington, Cpl. Christian Nungisa, Cpl. Cindy Ryan, Cpl. Denise Hache, Cpl. Joseph McEachern.

Message 2 Holiday Greetings from: Cpl. Kate Thomasen, Cpl. Krista McKeough, Cpl. Tim Mackenzie, LCol. Heather Coombs, Lt(N) Clay Cochrane, Lt (N) Micheal Greer, Maj. Lee-Anne Quinn, MCpl. Andrea Plante, MCpl. Chris Misztal, MCpl. David Larocque, MCpl. Jason Papineau, and MCpl Scott Vandervaate.

Message 3 Christmas Greetings from: MCpl. Tricia Soucy-Phillips, MS Danny Moores, Pte. Patrick Rodrigues, WO Chris Seefried and WO Larry Leduc

Molson and Employees Support Canadian Troops Worldwide

The 200-year tradition continues with global shipment of Molson Canadian for the holiday season.

This holiday season, Molson will be sending close to 7,000 cans of Molson Canadian to Canadian troops stationed around the world. Molson employee, Robert Baragar, helps out recently in Toronto by loading a shipment destined for CFB Trenton near Belleville, Ont.

In a continued show of support for Canadian troops stationed throughout the world, Molson will once again ensure that soldiers will enjoy a cold Molson Canadian during the holiday season.

Molson is proud to play our part by donating Molson Canadian to our troops stationed not only in Afghanistan, but all around the world – in Africa, the Balkans, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Southwest Asia, and the Arabian Gulf Region. The beer is designated for special occasions set to take place on Canadian Bases such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when off-duty soldiers can partake in the season’s festivities.

“We want to acknowledge, in our own way, all the Canadian troops stationed around the world,” said Kevin Boyce, President and CEO, Molson. “We are proud to continue a long-standing tradition of supplying support to our troops by sending Molson Canadian cheer to those who are working so hard every day to make a difference for us back at home.”

In addition, Molson is donating 3,000 custom-designed duffle bags – one for every single deployed troop. The bags will be included in holiday care packages sent by the Department of National Defense’s Operation Santa Claus program.

“Molson has, for many years, supported members of the Canadian Forces deployed to various locations around the world and their families waiting at home in Canada,” said James Peverley, Director, Deployment Support for the Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency. “Through donations of beer to the troops in Afghanistan and participation in programs such as Operation Santa Claus and Military Family Resource Centre events, they have helped to boost the morale of soldiers and their families. The Canadian Forces appreciates this visible support to our troops.”

Molson and its employees continue a long-standing tradition of support through a variety of initiatives:

Recreation Facility at CFB Halifax

Molson will fund and support the construction of a multi-purpose recreation facility at Canadian Forces Base Halifax (Shearwater). The project will provide a facility for ice hockey, ball hockey and a skating park for the Canadian military forces.

Tickets For Troops

Molson joined the Edmonton Oilers in a program called ‘Tickets For Troops’ that allowed the club’s season ticket holders to donate their tickets to members of the Canadian Forces stationed at CFB Edmonton for the Oilers home game on November 24. More than 5,000 tickets were donated. Molson was the largest contributor, donating over 100 tickets. All donated tickets were distributed to active members of the Edmonton Garrison and their families.

Employee Support

In partnership with The Docks, a bar in Edmonton near the garrison, Molson sales representative Ryan St. Peter created his own in-bar Red Fridays promotion to raise money for the Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) in support of families of deployed troops from the area. St. Peter’s efforts raised $5,000 – one dollar from every Molson product sold on a Friday over a four-month period. Through Molson’s Matching Gifts Program, the company donated an equal amount for a total of $10,000 for Edmonton’s military families.

A History of Support

Supplying support to Canadian troops has been a tradition at Molson as far back as the late 1700s when John Molson served his country as a politician in peacetime – and as a soldier during war. Throughout the War of 1812-14, Mr. Molson – the force behind the establishment of the country’s first commercial steamboat enterprise – enlisted in the force along with two of his sons and dedicated his steamships to the service of the Crown. The Swiftsure was the first steamship to be used in war.

About Molson
With roots dating back to 1786 and a time-honoured tradition of brewing quality beers, Molson is proud to be the nation’s preferred brewer. The Company proudly offers the most popular brands in Canada with an award-winning brand portfolio which includes Molson Canadian, Coors Light, Molson Export, Molson Dry and Rickard's. Molson also partners with other leading brewers to offer such global brands as Heineken, Corona, Miller Genuine Draft, Foster’s Lager and Tiger. Molson employs 3,000 Canadians, operates six breweries, including the boutique brewery Creemore, and invests in communities from coast-to-coast through its various charitable initiatives and sports and entertainment sponsorships. Molson is part of the Molson Coors Brewing Company.

A BIG HUA for Molson!!
And a BIG thank you to Debra Douglass (pilot pmr) from Molson Canadian for supplying us with this info.
Merry Christmas to the Staff at Molson Canadian!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Christmas Care Package Ideas

Is there a soldier on your Christmas list? Here are just a few holiday care package ideas for your soldier. Captured here is the spirit of the season through items that relate to the sights, sounds, smells, and the tastes of the holidays. Add your own touches for a sure fire way to make a soldier's spirit bright!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

  • Santa hat
  • Stuffed reindeer
  • Christmas movie
  • Kid's craft — paper snowflakes
  • Fake snow
  • Fake tree
  • Lights
  • Handmade ornaments
  • String popcorn and cranberries
  • Tiny wrapped packages (use gum, mints, or small items to go under the tree)
  • Advent calendar
  • Picture book (include pictures from past holiday gatherings)
  • Small wrapped items to the theme of the "Twelve Days of Christmas"
  • A box of Christmas Cards stamped and addressed to the soldier's family
  • Avon's keychain slideshow
  • Recordable ornament
  • reindeer antlers (the fabric kind of course)

Just hear those sleigh bells ring-a-ling….

  • CD of you (and your children) singing Christmas carols
  • CD of Christmas music
  • Jingle bells
Jack Frost nipping at your nose…
  • Holiday scented candle (pine, cinnamon, baking)
  • Holiday scented oil
  • Pine cones (scented)
Now bring us some figgy pudding…

  • Fresh baked cookies (packaged just right)
  • SPAM (Christmas "ham")
  • Vienna Sausages
  • Sausage and cheese (eg Hickory Farms)
  • Holiday RITZ crackers
  • Mixed nuts (in shell) with a nut cracker
  • Candy canes
  • Christmas m&m's
  • Advent calendar
  • Holiday coffee & creamer
  • Hot cocoa or cider
  • Hot chocolate mixed with candy canes
If you can think of more to add, let us know in the comments section... Happy Shopping!

Thank You!

If you get a chance, take a peek at the map to the right of this entry. ( Where the green right column turns blue.) It shows where readers are from all around the world. (there's a bigger one at the bottom of my blog) As the key shows, each yellow dot, represents 1 to 10 readers. Thank you EVERYONE worldwide for taking the time to read the entries. Amazing!

I'm wondering about those dots that look like they are in the ocean. I'm hoping these are islands or waterproof laptops to say the least!
Read safe. Stay safe. Be safe.


Well, I'm back (for now). It was a harrowing week, but at times when I just needed to take my mind off "things" I took to reading my books. Well, let me tell you, "15 days.." by Christie Blatchford has proven to be an excellent insight into our soldiers' mission, feelings and thoughts. You feel as though you're there.. alongside the troops. Now I know why, (other than confidentiality purposes), my son has spared me many details-yikes.) These men are true heroes. Oh..while reading this book, the interview with Christie Blatchford appeared on the hospital's tv.

I think fate and thoughts of my son were with me. For a change of pace, I picked up a magazine laying in a bin at the hospital door. While perusing it, with great interest, I started reading one of the articles. It was a story of our soldiers in Afghanistan. But what really caught my eye??.. were the names of some of the soldiers serving alongside my son!

Then... the next evening, at my dad's bedside at the hospital, I turned that small portable tv on for him. With the sound of the monitors and the hiss of the oxygen, I suddenly heard a new sound - my dad's excited voice shouting: "Look! It's my grandson.. on tv!" A news station had published a story of soldiers training in the snowy forests of CFB Petawawa.

With worries of my dad, wherever I turned this past week, my son was with me.

"Bears?" ;)

Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.
- Glenn Turner

Appliance Parts Pros Send Comfort Packages

While away, I received an email from Dave. (thank you for your support letting us know about all the efforts Appliance Parts Pros are doing for US troops serving overseas! )

Appliance Parts Pros, has set up to send care packages to the men and women overseas. The contest is called Comforts of Home and in addition to the 80 care packages they've already sent, they will deliver items like calling cards and writing materials to the Troops so they can stay in touch with loved ones this upcoming holiday season.
To help send additional items and packages, Appliance Parts Pros is asking for people to either write about their holiday cooking horror stories, or to post messages of support to the Troops on their blogs. Thank you Appliance Parts Pro for supporting the troops! Sends 80 'Comforts of Home' Packages to US Troops Overseas Packages have been sent to soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan in time for the holiday

US soldiers serving in theater will soon receive 80 care packages that contain items they have requested online in various forums and message boards. The packages contain a 300 minute calling card and writing materials for the soldiers to connect with their loved ones back home this holiday season, as well as magazines, protein rich snacks, and personal hygiene materials such as hand sanitizers and lip balm. The packages also include a card with well wishes from the staff at in California.

"Our troops are performing a tremendous service for our country and we wanted to help them feel comfortable while they are away from home this holiday season," said Roman Kagan, CEO of Appliance Parts Pros. "I work with a former Marine and recognize the hardships that our soldiers face on a daily basis. After seeing requests for these types of items on message boards and forums we decided to help out."The "Comforts of Home" packages have been sent to the men and women of Alpha Co. 3/69 AR and 2ND PLT, A BTRY 1-9 FA in Iraq and 1-508th PIR 82nd ABN DIV in Afghanistan.The 80 packages have a retail value of $60 each, not including shipping.

"Serving overseas for long periods of time can be tough on both the soldier and their family back home. We wanted to make sure the soldiers can connect with their loved ones over the holidays and we hope including the 300 minute Military Exchange Prepaid Calling Card in the package helps them do that," stated Kagan.

"Lament for the Dead" by Will Oliver

This is a tribute to our fallen soldiers by singer Will Oliver.
Thank you Will on behalf of military families.
We shall always remember them. ~m.m.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fifteen Days and A Thousand Splendid Suns

Preparing to be with by my dear Dad's side at the hospital this week, I pondered which reading material to take with me so as to pass the time as I nervously sit (don't tell him that) in the waiting room.

After reading an article by Ian Elliot. I decided that I will have to make a stop enroute to my favourite bookstore to pick up Fifteen Days: Stories Of Bravery, Friendship, Life And Death From Inside The New Canadian Army, by Christie Blatchford ( ah yes- and on advise of a friend ->>and a peppermint hot chocolate while there.) The other, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, I need to finish first being it's on loan to me by friends (thank you Patty and Jane)

I'd like to share the article and book information with you:

Fifteen Days: Stories Of Bravery, Friendship, Life And Death From Inside The New Canadian Army Author: Christie Blatchford

Photo Credit: Michael Lea
Reporter profiles Canadian Forces troops serving in Afghanistan
Posted By Ian Elliot
Christie Blatchford is an unabashed champion of the Canadian Forces serving in Afghanistan, and wants the rest of the country to know where they are and what they have been tasked with doing.
Blatchford was in Kingston yesterday to meet with Royal Military College cadets and give a talk about her new book, Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death From Inside The New Canadian Army.
The title refers to the 15 significant days from her initial three tours as an embedded journalist for the Globe and Mail when significant events happened. They were usually the deaths of soldiers she had come to know in attacks. Those days, and their aftermath, make up the structure of her book.
The subtitle refers to the change, perhaps not in the military itself but in the public perception of it, as it engages in the first actual fighting war in more than a generation.
"I became the unofficial publicist for the army within five minutes of me being there for my first tour," Blatchford said in an interview at the college yesterday.
An unabashed supporter and friend of the young men and women she covered, Blatchford's book steers clear of the politics or the strategies of the Afghan mission, instead presenting a corporal's-eye view of life on the ground in a foreign and often hostile land.
Among the soldiers she profiles is Capt. Nicola Goddard, an RMC grad who was well-known around Kingston. Goddard was killed in Afghanistan last May and is described as a "smart, switched-on, charismatic young woman."
While undeniably sympathetic to the men and woman in uniform who surround her, Blatchford, who returns next spring for her fifth tour in Afghanistan, does not glorify them, nor does she let the book turn into a hagiography.
"I don't think I used the word 'heroic' or 'nobility' in the book - I tried not to exaggerate," she said. "I just wanted to write a book about the people who are doing the soldiering for us. The least we can do is know who these people are."
Blatchford, who lives in downtown Toronto, said she found it frustrating that many people there, and in other urban centres without a major military presence, seem oblivious to what the country's military is doing overseas - it was another reason she wanted to write the book. "It's true of a lot of urban areas, but particularly of Toronto," she said.

Christie Blatchford has been a high-profile Canadian journalist for over 25 years, with columns covering sports, lifestyle, current affairs, and crime. She started working for The Globe and Mail in 1972 while still studying at Ryerson, and has since worked for the Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun and the National Post. She returned to The Globe and Mail in 2002. She is a winner of the National Newspaper Award for column writing.

Fifteen Days by Christie Blatchford
Published:October 9, 2007
Dimensions:400 Pages, 6.2 x 9.28 x 1.15 in
From the PublisherLong before she made her first trip to Afghanistan as an embedded reporter for The Globe and Mail, Christie Blatchford was already one of Canada’s most respected and eagerly read journalists. Her vivid prose, her unmistakable voice, her ability to connect emotionally with her subjects and readers, her hard-won and hard-nosed skills as a reporter–these had already established her as a household name. But with her many reports from Afghanistan, and in dozens of interviews with the returned members …+ read moreLong before she made her first trip to Afghanistan as an embedded reporter for The Globe and Mail, Christie Blatchford was already one of Canada’s most respected and eagerly read journalists. Her vivid prose, her unmistakable voice, her ability to connect emotionally with her subjects and readers, her hard-won and hard-nosed skills as a reporter–these had already established her as a household name. But with her many reports from Afghanistan, and in dozens of interviews with the returned members of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and others back at home, she found the subject she was born to tackle. Her reporting of the conflict and her deeply empathetic observations of the men and women who wear the maple leaf are words for the ages, fit to stand alongside the nation’s best writing on war.It is a testament to Christie Blatchford’s skills and integrity that along with the admiration of her readers, she won the respect and trust of the soldiers. They share breathtakingly honest accounts of their desire to serve, their willingness to confront fear and danger in the battlefield, their loyalty towards each other and the heartbreak occasioned by the loss of one of their own. Grounded in insights gained over the course of three trips to Afghanistan in 2006, and drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews not only with the servicemen and -women with whom she shared so much, but with their commanders and family members as well, Christie Blatchford creates a detailed, complex and deeply affecting picture of military life in the twenty-first century.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
After more than two years on the bestseller lists and over four million copies in print, Khaled Hosseini returns with a beautiful, riveting, and haunting novel of enormous contemporary relevance.

Published:May 22, 2007
Dimensions:384 Pages, 6.5 x 9.5 x 1.25 in

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives—the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness—are inextricable from the history playing out around them. Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heart-wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love—a stunning accomplishment.

About the Author:

Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and moved to the United States in 1980. His first novel, The Kite Runner, was an international bestseller, published in thirty-six countries. In 2006 he received a humanitarian award from the United Nations Refugee Agency and was named a U.S. goodwill envoy to that agency. He lives in northern California.

What DOES SEARS Kitchener Support?


Well, a week ago I had the opportunity to walk through the Sears Store in Kitchener again to see if anything has changed with the placement of the Support Our Troops merchandise. If you recall, the last time, it was obscured by the placement of a men's underwear display.

Well this time.. giving hope and holding my breath I rounded the familiar corner to the men's wear department.

Well.. the underwear was moved, but now sharing the "pillar space" with t-shirts and hats (embroidered with the yellow ribbon - waiting to be worn in support of our troops working through all elements and dangers overseas) were....... SIMPSONS TSHIRTS! - DUFF BEER T-SHIRTS. Cartoons - a joke!

However, I as a military mom and friend to soldiers and their families - I'm not laughing. I do not believe that the seriousness of the mission and of our soldiers should be taken lightly.

To Sears Kitchener, the Support Our Troops Merchandise is a novelty, a promotional item. However, to Military Families and friends, this is taken seriously, especially in the light of our many wounded and fallen soldiers and many sons, daughters, family members and friends that are serving from that region.

Oh. And the display - it was difficult to get to. Why? It was blocked from the aisle by a table of sweaters. Sears Kitchener, if you're supporting our troops, please show us (military families) by at least showing it through your display. At least dedicate a whole quarter of the pillar to our troops.

My pen is ready for combat.

The Soldier Bear

The Story of "Soldier Bear"
Soldier Bear comes all the way from Nova Scotia to help the children and families of the Canadian Forces personnel deployed to Afghanistan. Soldier Bear was created by Fred Herman, a Veteran to the forces, to show his appreciation of the contribution of the men and women who are serving our country and others.
For only $20.00 Soldier Bear can be purchased at most MFRC's across Canada,Irving Oil Locations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland which include Irving Big Stops, Irving Mainways and Irving Blue Canoe outlets,The Military Family Resource Centres in Halifax, Moncton, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Canadian Forces Base Shilo, Canadian Forces base Winnipeg, Canadian Forces Base Moose Jaw and Canadian Forces Base Edmonton.The Hudson Group outlets at the Halifax Robert L. Stanfield International Airport, Calgary International Airport and Vancouver International Airport,Also available at CANEX outlets at Canadian Forces Base Greenwood, Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, Canadian Forces Base Halifax, Canadian Forces Base Shearwater and Canadian Forces Base Stadacona, Halifax. The Soldier Bear can also be purchased from inventor "Fred Herman" by the following means of contact:

Residence: 1-902-883-6607
Cell Number: 1-902-488-9269 or
Fax: 1-902-883-1067
I have one and it is the softest bears I ever held-what a comfort!- - and he's dressed in desert cadpat!
Shown here: Fred Herman inventor of "Soldier" and Honorable Peter MacKay, Minister of Defense for Canada
About Fred Herman: After serving for 33 years in the Canadian Armed Forces, Herman later followed that career within the Military environment for an additional 10 years. During his lengthly career, he was a multi-decorated Canadian Forces Peacekeeper. He then decided to seek out other opportunities to contribute to society and escape the possibility of boredom during his retirement years.
Upon retirement from the Canadian Armed Forces/Military environment, Herman joined the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires in Nova Scotia and was assigned duties at the Halifax International Airport (recently renamed the Halifax Robert L. Stanfield International Airport) where he was employed on security duties. His duties at the airport have been very enlightening while his tasks have varied considerably as all assigned tasks are driven by requirement.
At one point, Herman was assigned the task of escorting a fallen comrade who was being returned from Afghanistan for burial in his home province of Newfoundland. This, to Fred Herman, was an honour and an extremely important and touching task which brought back memories of his Peacekeeping duties in war-torn countries such as Lebanon, Israel, Cyprus, Syria and Egypt to him. After completing his missions in these troubled countries he appreciated the fact that he returned safely and unscathed to Canada. Although it was an honour to represent our marvellous country of Canada, Herman says he must admit that there were many times during these missions that fear of his personal safety and that of his fellow soldiers were of great concern. As he carried out my duties of escorting the fallen comrade, his heart was full of sorrow and sympathy for the soldier's family. During this ceremony Herman had the opportunity to speak with some of the soldiers present and recalling his own experiences, he was inspired to do something to contribute and show appreciation for their efforts in trying to make this particular country a better place for all residents.
After much thought and consideration Fred Herman settled for the idea of creating and producing a small Teddy Bear to represent the present day Canadian Soldier now serving in Afghanistan. After a considerable amount of artwork, many prototypes and nine months later, "Soldier" the Teddy Bear, pictured here was born.
Following the birth of "Soldier" Herman set out to secure an agency to support his efforts as well as having support for the Canadian Forces in their mission in Afghanistan. That agency was the Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) with an office in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The staff at this centre was inspired by Herman's project and he committed himself to contribute a portion of the proceeds from the sale of "Soldier" to all Military Family Resource Centers across Canada who participate in the sale of "Soldier" as a fundraiser for their MFRC. These centres all across Canada provide tremendous support for families of our soldiers serving in Afghanistan as well as other war-torn counties.
Herman now contributes funds every six months to the MFRC's who are participating in this endeavour of fundraising for their particular MFRC.
Herman is dedicated to this venture and promises to pursue every avenue open to him to make it a success. This precious little item, "Soldier", represents our Canadian Forces personnel deployed in Afghanistan.
A BIG HUA to Fred Herman!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Teary Morning

Today in the classroom during O Canada, I had noticed one of my students had stopped singing. He then lowered his head for a couple of moments. Upon lifting his head and he made a sign of the cross using his pointer finger. Looking up, he continued on singing the National Anthem to the end. After the music stopped and the rest of the students sat down, this little boy came to me and said: "I was praying for the soldiers that were killed in the war."

They Are Home

The mournful strains of Amazing Grace mingled with traffic noise at a sombre repatriation ceremony Tuesday, November 20th, 2007 to honour the latest victims of Canada’s military effort to bring order to Afghanistan. With dignitaries and family on hand, the flag-draped coffins of Quebec-based Cpl. Nicolas Beauchamp, 28, and Pte. Michel Levesque, 25, were lowered from a military transport to waiting hearses.

"He will never cease to live among us and in our hearts," Levesque’s family said. "He will always be a hero to us."

Above: Military pallbearers carry the caskets of Cpl. Nicolas Beauchamps and Pte. Michel Levesque Jr. who were killed in Afghanistan on Saturday, during a repatriation ceremony at Canadian Forces base Trenton, Ontario, Tuesday November 20, 2007. Photo credit: Fred Chartrand

Beauchamp’s spouse, Cpl. Dolores Crampton, a medical technician based with the same unit, accompanied his body back to Canada. Crampton laid flowers on his coffin before returning to stand with Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier on the windswept runway. Also on hand was Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean and about 100 members of the public, who pressed against the fence that circles the base to watch the ceremony.
ABOVE: Chief of National Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hiller stands
with Cpl. Dolores Crampton, wife of Cpl. Nicolas Beauchamp.
Photo Credit: Fred Chartrand
"Nicolas was strong, generous, proud and convinced that he could make a difference in this world," the Beauchamp family said.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Industry Minister Jim Prentice bow their heads along with other Members of Parliament for a moment of silence in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Tuesday (Photo Credit: Tom Hanson)

Supporters were seen along overpasses of the Highway of Heroes, a section of the TransCanada Highway renamed in honour of Canada's fallen soldiers, as the hearses made their way to Toronto .

Veterans from the Trenton, Ontario area drape flags from an overpass as the motorcade carrying the caskets of Cpl. Nicolas Beauchamps and Pte. Michel Levesque Jr. drives by on the Highway of Heroes. (Photo Credit: Fred Chartrand)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Repatriation Itinerary in CFB Trenton

Our fallen soldiers, Corporal Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp, 28, 5e Ambulance de campagne, and Private Michel Levesque, 25, 3e Bataillon, Royal 22e Regiment, both were based out of Canadian Forces Base Valcartier, Quebec, are tenatively scheduled to return home to Canada tomorrow (Tuesday November 20th, 2007) - to be confirmed by CFB Trenton.

Where: 8 Wing Trenton, Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ontario.
When: Tuesday November 20, 3:00 p.m.

Present to pay their respects will be Her Excellency, the Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, The Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, the Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and other dignitaries.

After the repatriation at CFB Trenton... tentatively at 4:00 pm, a motorcade carrying the soldiers will travel the Highway of Heroes from Trenton to Toronto. it has become the custom for people to line the overpass bridges along the route to honour the soldiers and their families.

The Oshawa Navy Club plans to form an honour guard at the Harmony Road overpass in Oshawa while Whitby-Oshawa MP Jim Flaherty is organizing a bridge tribute at the Brock Street overpass in Whitby.

Welcome them home and honour our soldiers along our Highway of Heroes
(401 West from Trenton to Toronto)

Ramp Ceremony in Afghanistan

Hundreds of soldiers attended a twilight ramp ceremony Sunday at Kandahar airfield to pay tribute to two Canadian soldiers killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.
Cpl. Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp, 28, and Pte. Michel Levesque, 25, were riding in a light armoured vehicle that drove over a large improvised explosive device early Saturday.
The blast, 40 kilometres west of Kandahar, also claimed the life of an Afghan interpreter and injured three Canadian soldiers.

The flag-draped casket of Cpl. Beauchamp of the 5th Field Ambulance in Valcartier, Que., was carried by his fellow medics to a waiting Hercules transport plane to take him on his journey home. Photo: Cpl Simon Duchesne

Photo: Cpl Simon Duchesne

Cpl. Dolores Crampton (common law wife of Cpl. Nicolas Beauchamp) walks behind the casket of her husband. She carried his beret as she walked behind the coffin and later boarded the plane with him for the long journey home.

Photo: Cpl Simon Duchesne

The flag draped casket of Pte. Lévesque, of Quebec's Royal 22nd Regiment at Valcartier is carried by his fellow comrades to an awaiting Hercules plane to bring him home to an 18-year-old pregnant fiancée in Rivière-Rouge, a small village north of the Laurentians. Just last week, the young couple became engaged while Levesque was on a two-week leave.
Photo: Cpl Simon Duchesne
They are coming home. Bless Pte. Levesque and Cpl. Beauchamp and their families - their military families still serving over seas and their families awaiting their arrival home. They shall be remembered always.