Sunday, February 25, 2007

Families of Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan
Support Group Meeting
Waterloo Region

by: Jane Annandale
The meeting at the 404 Wing, our “new home” was indeed a special event. Over 40 attended the inaugural event including 404 Wing representatives Mike Turos and 404 President Vic Snowdon.

The monthly meeting of Families of Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan was held on Saturday, February 24th at 404 Wing RCAFA on Dutton Drive in Waterloo. This is as association of families who support each other through the anxieties of having a soldier on rotation in Afghanistan. This meeting marked the beginning of their association with 404 Wing and all further meetings will be held at this location.

The large number of members and guests were honoured by the presence of two notable speakers. Mr Jawed Ludin, former Chief of Staff to President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Lt Commander Albert Wong, head of Public Relations for the Department of National Defence, came to the meeting in a private capacity to give personal and candid messages of encouragement and thanks for the great service that our Canadian Troops are bringing to the people of Afghanistan. The general population of that country know that they will benefit from the presence of NATO Forces, and that there must be peace and stability to rebuild the infrastructure, commerce and industry that will take them from one of the poorest nations in the world to a position of self sufficiency. Both speakers answered many questions and helped to give a clear picture of what our monetary and military contributions have achieved. It is only with a continued presence of the 37 countries in Afghanistan, and especially the bravery and steadfast efforts of our Canadian Troops that the country will achieve its goals. Appreciation was also expressed for the support that our soldiers receive from their families and for the sacrifice of families who have troops away on foreign service.

The next meeting of Families of Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan will be on March 31, 2007 at 7:30 pm at RCAFA 404 Wing, 510 Dutton Drive in Waterloo. Anyone wishing to attend the meeting should email or phone Kerry Townson, Membership Secretary at 519-888-9398.

LCmdr Meets with FOCSIA in Waterloo

Lieutenant-Commander Albert Wong knows all about the incidents that make the news, but he also knows about a whole other side of the Afghanistan story that rarely makes the front page — and that, he says, is really too bad, because a lot of them actually contain good news for the country and its people.
Wong, who works out of the National Defence Public Affairs office in Toronto, met with and spoke before the support group "Families of Canadian Soldiers in Aghanistan" in Waterloo on Saturday evening. His message is that Canada is making a very real and positive difference in a lot of people’s lives.
“I was in Afghanistan for one year, from August, of 2005 to August of 2006,” he says. “I was sent there as part of a Canadian government team of 15 people called the Strategic Advisory Team (Afghanistan) and our mandate was to help the government ... build the capacity for strategic planning, helping them develop plans and strategies for economic development and for the progress of the country in areas like health, education and rural development.”
Although he concedes the battles and bombs make more headlines, it’s the quiet work on the ground, in the cities and the rural countryside, that is key to getting the war-ravaged countries — one of the poorest in the world — back on its feet.
“First of all, there is a roadmap the government has for their people, and they’ve consulted widely in the country,” he says. “They have a five-year development strategy, weighted towards the rural population. Through this strategy we want to help increase the indicators of life. We need to help them find their footing after 30 years of war.”
What this means, he says, is improving the literacy rate, particularly for women, decreasing the infant mortality rate and providing employment opportunities as well as food self-sufficiency.
This, he says, comes in the form of constructing schools and medical clinics, and a national solidarity program funded through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) but run by the Afghan government. In this program, villagers elect a community development council through secret ballot and they plan, implement and monitor their own development projects.
“We see a lot of hope and promise,” Wong says. “We are still at a crossroads, but they have a clear plan and the international community is committed to that plan in terms of support,” Wong says. “We’re in the first year of that plan and we need to follow through.”
Although Wong says the aid to Afghanistan has managed to increase the daily income by 100 per cent to some of the poorest people in the country, that only works out to an increase from 50 cents per day to $1. The minimum poverty standard recognized around the world is $2 per day.
“We still have a long way to go,” he concedes.
The resurgent Taliban have caused disruptions, but only to about one percent of the projects funded by the Canadians, Wong says.
“The Taliban definitely slows down the development program,” he says. “You need security for development and very clearly the fighting has affected the development, but it hasn’t stopped it. We had significant battles last fall and in the wake of that, two things happened. First, the people who fled ahead of the fighting didn’t go to Pakistan. They went to Kandahar City for shelter. It’s an expression of confidence in their own country. After the fighting we went right back in and put in a significant amount of effort to rebuild what was destroyed, regardless of who did it.”
Of those who fled the Panjawar District, 70 per cent returned home after the fighting, another sign there’s a growing confidence in the government, Wong says.
Being able to help people in such a basic and important way was rewarding for Wong, and for many other Canadian personnel involved in the country. He says he plans to go back at the first opportunity.
“I don’t know when I’ll go back, but I will,” he says. “You talk to most of the Canadian soldiers who come back, and they would want to go back. It’s a worthwhile mission ... The biggest fear Afghans have is to be left behind by the international community again.”

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Former Chief of Staff for Afghan President Visits with FOCSIA in Waterloo

On Saturday, February 24th, 2007, Jawed Ludin, the former chief of staff for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, along with is wife and children met with Families of Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan in Waterloo. Speaking with the support group, Ludin personally thanked a couple of the soldiers in attendance who recently returned from Afghanistan, for the work they did and for attended the group's meeting Saturday in Waterloo and were thanked personally for their committment and endeavours served overseas for his country.
On June 28, 2005 at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, President Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, had issued a decree appointing Mr. Jawed Ludin as the Chief of the Staff of the President.Jawed Ludin was born in Kabul on 16 March, 1973. He went to school at Ghazi High School in Kabul and went to university in London, the UK and earned his Masters Degree in Politics and Sociology in 2001. Jawed Ludin also has experience of working for international organizations in the areas of management, international development and public relations. He has served as the Spokesman and Director of communications of the President since May, 2003.
On Saturday, February 24th, 2007, Jawed Ludin, the former chief of staff for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, currently visiting family in Waterloo, met with Families of Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan in Waterloo.
The Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan would be dead overnight if Pakistan were forced to stop supporting them, says a senior Afghanistan government official.
"The root and the sources of terrorist indoctrination, terrorist support, terrorist mobilization, terrorist financing, terrorist training and terrorist launching -- all of this happens to be based in Pakistan," Ludin said.
Every Canadian soldier who has served in Afghanistan is viewed as a hero by the overwhelming majority of the people there, Ludin said.
"Afghanistan is grateful obviously to have Canada on its side," Ludin said.
The bombings in Madrid and London, as well as the attacks of 9/11, are all linked to terrorist infrastructure in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ludin said.
"It would obviously be easier and more comfortable for all Canadians and their soldiers to be back in Canada, but life is not always about easy choices. The difficult choice is the right choice, and that's to be there," Ludin said.
The Italian prime minister recently saw his government fall over his support for keeping

He helped the United Nations organize the Bonn conference of November 2001 that laid out the democratic framework for a post-Taliban Afghanistan. He returned to Afghanistan to work for the president's office in May 2003.
"There is a large consensus internationally that it is vital for this country to become secure and stable again in order for the world to be safe from the threat of terrorism," Ludin said.
NDP Leader Jack Layton, and other MPs have called for a major change of direction in Canada's mission in Afghanistan. Those critics want Canadian troops to focus more on development work, rather than fighting.
But Ludin said both are needed at the same time.
"It's through development that you will ensure the long-term sustainability of this effort."
"You have to defeat the enemy of stability in Afghanistan in order to be able to help Afghanistan recover and develop economically," Ludin said.
The roots of terrorism in Afghanistan were planted in the 1980s. Money from Saudi Arabia was used by Pakistan's intelligence agencies to set up religious schools (Madrassas) where young recruits were indoctrinated into extremist Islam.
The Soviets were driven out of Afghanistan, but the Madrassas remained.
The Taliban came out of these schools. Talib means religious student.
Ludin said Pakistan and Afghanistan never accepted the border between the two countries when Pakistan was created in 1947.
And now Pakistani intelligence uses Islamic extremism to undermine any nationalist tendencies in the provinces that border Afghanistan.
The Muslim radicals running the Madrassas, the Taliban and Pakistani intelligence agency known as ISI form what Ludin calls an evil triangle.
"This triangle is the evil triangle that has to be dismantled if the world is ever going to be safe from terrorism" Ludin said.

For more information on the Families of Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan support group, call Kerry Townson at 519-888-9398 or e-mail

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

He's Home!

He's home!!
My son is home!!
Driving to Trenton, my cell phone rings. It's my son. (the last time this happened in Trenton was the day his plane was flying through the clouds enroute to a country so far away)

They arrived in the Prime Minister's plane.

His plane touched Canadian soil ~ home. I cried with my dear friend Rita who was trying to see the road ahead through the tears~ Her son was in that same plane!

In the terminal (with permission) we hung up my "hand crafted" Welcome Home sign - adorning the small holes in it that my son's dog had artistically created.

We put up yellow bows (of course). .. and waited. I said to Rita, "it's a shame no one is fussing when the soldiers come through the sliding door. Let's applaud them." ... soon everyone followed suit - soon, all the people in the terminal applauded as each soldier walked through that sliding door! Pride- we showed pride, pride in our soldiers and all they have accomplished, their difficult tasks, the missions being carried forth - now by the courageous soldiers of the next rotation. They walked through the door with a smile, the Afghan dust still clinging to their bags.

Soon I saw him, desert uniform, a scarf- (as seen on many soldiers), pushing a cart of bags, my son. I shrieked (scaring the staff) and ran to him to give him a hug- holding him and looking at him, looking at him the same as the day he was born - a familiar euphoria.

He is home, he is in Canada, he's home.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Ribbons Flutter in Waterloo

Yellow Bows Flutter in Waterloo!

After sending emails out and campaigning to the Tri Cities, it is overwhelming and heartening to see our soldiers' yellow ribbon welcome come to fruition.
I'd like to personally thank City of Waterloo's Mayor and Council Members for honouring our troops with yellow ribbons! It left me in awe when I saw the ribbons aligning the walkway to their city hall. As well, they have adorned the area of the cenotaph with yellow. What a spectacular "Welcome Home" to our soldiers coming home from Afghanistan and that they were not and will not be forgotten. Thank you Waterloo!


Cambridge Welcomes Our Troops Home

Cambridge Welcomes Our Troops Home With Yellow Ribbons!

Cambridge has shown great support and pride in honouring our troops home from Afghanistan. This week, Mayor Doug Craig was seen putting up bows himself! Taking a drive around the centre core of Galt, one can not help but not notice the yellow ribbons proudly tied onto the trees on both sides of the streets! In the evening when the trees are lit - the ribbons- Cambridge people, welcome our soldiers, our heroes home. We did not forget, we will not forget. Personally, I'd like to thank Mayor Craig and the Cambridge council for remembering our soldiers who are returning home from Afghanistan.
You have instilled a great sense of pride in our soldiers.
On behalf of military families and friends a big HUA!

Report from the Cambridge Times:
Ray Martin, Cambridge
(Feb 20, 2007)
The City of Cambridge is welcoming troops returning from Afghanistan by adorning public buildings with yellow ribbons and bows.
"We started putting them out last week as a symbol of remembrance and hope," said Mayor Doug Craig.
The bows have gone up in front of the municipal offices, old city hall, local fire halls, and community centres.
Ten members of the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada (RHFC), the local militia regiment, have been serving with Canada's regular forces in Afghanistan since the fall. Those troops are now being rotated back to Canada and have been returning individually and in small groups. Seven have already returned and the final three are expected back in the next few weeks.
"I've had a number of calls from people in the community and we have a staff member whose daughter is serving over there, so it only seems right to honour these soldiers as they make their way home again," Craig said.
Officials with the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada say no special ceremonies are being planned to welcome the returning troops.
"They are decompressing right now, spending time away from the army with their families," said Major Jarrett McDonald.
Although the troops have served overseas and may have seen combat, this is simply another regular troop rotation as far as the regiment is concerned, McDonald explained.
"We've got nothing special planned for our people returning from Afghanistan," he said.


With much thanks to Mayor Carl Zehr and city council members, the fluttering of yellow bows can be heard and seen on Kitchener City Hall. After seeing Guelph's City Hall, I thought "why not ask council if they could do the same?" So I did. I asked Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge.
What a wonderful way to say "thank you" to our troops. It not only honours them, but it also honours their families and friends. Many soldiers will be returning to the Waterloo Region over the next couple of weeks... the ribbons await to welcome them.

"Thank you-City of Kitchener from the bottom of our hearts! "

Below is a news release from the City of Kitchener:

For Immediate Release
February 19, 2007

Kitchener Ties Yellow Ribbons to Honour Troops

KITCHENER – In honour of local soldiers returning from Afghanistan, the City of Kitchener has attached yellow ribbons to the front of City Hall. The ribbons are a sign of the community’s appreciation for our local servicemen and servicewomen.

They are also a “welcome home” gesture for the several area residents who will be returning from duty periodically for the next three weeks.

“We truly appreciate those who left friends and family behind and travelled so far from home in service to their country,” said Mayor Carl Zehr. “We want to warmly welcome them home.”

A growing number of people are showing their support for Canadian troops by tying yellow ribbons to their homes and businesses, and several area municipalities have followed suit.

The ribbons will be in place at Kitchener City Hall until approximately March 12th.


For more information:

Cathy Gravelle
Office of the Mayor and Council
City of Kitchener

Michael May
Director of Corporate Communications and Marketing
City of Kitchener

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Waiting for You

Note to family and friends:
Display a yellow ribbon today
for our soldiers.

To our soldiers -
Your family and friends will always be
"right here waiting for you."

Friday, February 16, 2007

Display Yellow Ribbons

It was a little more than 6 months ago today that I went to Trenton for a "dry run" ha ha ( a couple weeks before my son's deployment.) There at the fence, I met a mother of a soldier (who was being deployed that day.) I stood back, and took some pictures for her of her son's plane. I sobbed, knowing I would be that mother in 2 weeks. I could only imagine how she felt.. I too would be in her shoes.. seeing a son bravely leave for a land on the other side of the world, not knowing what he would encounter and what would present itself to them.
After seeing the dot of a plane and the noise of the engine disappear into the skies, she turned and we hugged, crying together. Since that date, we have been in contact with each other, supporting each other. It's hard to believe it was 6 months ago... now our sons are coming home. As with other military moms, "Section Moms", military families, and friends, our yellow ribbons are up awaiting their return home.

"Thank you C." ~from Military Mom.

Adams' plane departing Trenton

Waving and wiping tears as the plane taxis down the runway

His plane flies up into the clouds to a land so far away,
a destiny many brave soldiers have journeyed.

Display yellow ribbons,
February 13, 2007
By Times-Journal Staff

Carol Adams looks out the window of her Talbotville home and counts.“I have three … four … five … eight; one on each post of the front porch and the three trees, and the mailbox.”She is counting the yellow ribbons she has tied as a show of support for her son, Capt. Ryan Adams, operations officer for 31 CER (The Elgins), and for other Elgins in Afghanistan.Since summer, Ryan Adams has been one of 12 members of the unit serving overseas on Canada’s mission.
With their expected return beginning this week, Carol Adams is hoping the community will join in a salute of yellow ribbons throughout St. Thomas and Elgin.“I think it would be great for the community to show its support, to welcome the troops home with yellow ribbons,” says the Mary Kay area representative who is married to retired London, Ont., police detective Bill Adams. He’s also a past president of the Royal Canadian Legion Lord Elgin Branch 41, St. Thomas.An Elgin now serving in the regular armed force, Ryan Adams and the reservists he’s with come from communities across the region. And in Guelph, Ont., the city has tied yellow ribbons to city hall and other public buildings in their honour.The continued campaign is being promoted by a military mom, who has posted it to a blog at
Adams doesn’t speak directly about her concern for her son, 29, a mechanical engineering graduate of the University of Western Ontario. A younger brother is studying political science and economics at the school.Ryan Adams was home at Christmas on leave and Carol Adams said it was difficult to see him return to Afghanistan. She repeats, “We’ll be glad to have him home.”But she says she has been heartened by the yellow ribbons she has seen already in the community.She acknowledges -- and respects -- the debate about Canada’s place in Afghanistan but says she believes everyone, no matter what stand, still can support the individual men and women who are tasked with the mission.And says Bill Adams, “People are extremely supportive.”

Keep the Home Fires Burning

Keep the home fires burning,
While your hearts are yearning,
Though your lads are far away
They dream of home.
There's a silver lining
Through the dark cloud shining,
Turn the dark cloud inside out
'Til the boys come home.

A popular song in World War I.
The lyrics are by Lena Ford and the music by Ivor Novello.
Story of Keeping the "Home Fires Burning" : During World War I, soldiers relied on their wives and sweethearts to keep the home fires burning (keeping the homes in order) when they marched off to war.
Relishing the Freedoms of Home

Master Bombardier Denis Bingham, left, and Master Bombardier Ryan Kenny sign a paper flag yesterday during Flag Day celebrations at St. Peter Catholic School.

GUELPH (Feb 16, 2007)
Ryan Kenny no longer feels the urge to keep looking over his shoulder.
It's a luxury he has enjoyed since he returned to his Guelph home last weekend after serving six months in Afghanistan.
But he didn't fully realize this new freedom until a few days ago while watching a woman walking through the mall, distracted and not paying attention to where she was going.
"In Afghanistan, everyone is always paying attention to what's going on. You are always on guard," said the 25-year-old. "But here it's safe. We really do have it made here."
Kenny is among a dozen reservists from Guelph's 11th Field Regiment who set aside their lives for a six-month mission in Afghanistan.
Local soldiers started to return one by one at the beginning of February and should all be home by the end of the month.
Kenny arrived home Saturday just before midnight and yesterday took part in the Flag Day celebration at St. Peter Catholic School along with fellow Guelph reservist Denis Bingham. They stood in the bitter cold in just their fatigues while students raised a flag in front of their Westwood Road school. It was a stark contrast to what the two men were doing just a week earlier.
Kenny, who temporarily left behind his wife and a job as a high school teacher in Mississauga, served with the artillery division in Afghanistan, operating massive guns that can launch shells at enemies as far as 24 kilometres away.
Bingham, now a reservist after serving 20 years with the regular force, was in charge of ensuring soldiers had enough supplies as well as acting as security for one of the command posts.
"You aren't so much scared as you are concerned when you are over there," said the 45-year-old Fergus man. "You are concerned that your team won't come back in one piece. Every time you go out, it's like rolling the dice."
Despite the dangers, Bingham has already signed up to return to Afghanistan in the summer of 2008.
Yesterday, he shared with the students the commitment soldiers like himself and Kenny make to their country and the important role the Canadian flag plays when you are fighting away from home.
He told them how soldiers have a flag stitched onto the left shoulder of their fatigues and flags are flown above every command post.
"For a soldier, the flag represents what we have left behind," he said.
"And everything we do when we are away reflects the values of the flag we have vowed to protect."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Welcome Home "A Company" of 2PPCLI

Soldiers Return
Makes for 'Best Valentine's Ever'

Cpl. Chartier Langrell of 2PPCLI
hugs wife Crystal and son Cyrus after
returning yesterday.
Expensive jewelry, chocolates and flowers were nothing compared with the long, warm embraces that greeted the troops at 17 Wing Winnipeg and later at Shilo, outside Brandon.
What made the moment even sweeter for Cpl. Dave Trevors was the baby girl his wife Nicole was holding in her arms when they hugged.
Trevors had not seen his four-month-old daughter, Hannah, since he came home on leave when she was born.
"It was great to see them," an overwhelmed Trevors said, holding his daughter.
"This is the best feeling in the world," Nicole said after her husband stepped off a plane in Winnipeg last night. "I'm just happy to have them home."
Based in Kandahar during their tour of duty, the soldiers are part of A Company, 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (2 PPCLI).
Trevors and his colleagues received a hero's welcome filled with applause and tears.
Exhausted by a long flight to Winnipeg from Germany, that included stops in Iqaluit and CFB Trenton, Ont., the soldiers' spirits soared when they saw their loved ones, some of them clutching homemade posters, balloons and digital cameras.
A military jazz band serenaded them.
Candace Weiss can attest to the strength and character it takes to be a military spouse with young children.
She cared for two kids, aged three years and nine months, while her husband and their father, Master Cpl. Jon Weiss, served overseas.
"It's the best Valentine's ever. I'm so happy to have my hero home," Candace said smiling.
"It's been very hard not knowing whether they are OK or not. Waiting up to three weeks at a time to hear from him."
After their plane touched down in Winnipeg, the soldiers boarded buses for an estimated two-hour trip to Shilo, about 35 kilometres east of Brandon, where they were reunited with their families and colleagues. Canadian troops are in Afghanistan as part of a UN-sanctioned mission. Canada is participating along with 36 other nations at the request of the Afghan government.

Personally, I'd like to welcome home Company A, 2nd Battalion of 2PPCLI, welcome home to Canada - and thank you for all you have done, all you have experienced - for us. ~M.M.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentines Day

To your All our Soldiers, Military Moms, Dads, Sisters, Brothers, family and friends:
Happy Valentines Day!

A note to our soldiers: You are our true sweethearts. We always carry you in our hearts!
With our love from home,
Military Mom and families.

To my son: I am so proud of you. Congratulations! Thank you for your special note - it really made my day today - with smiles and tears of love - I love you very much. Mom ox

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Mothers' Battlegroup

After hearing the latest news, mothers have decided to form
"The Mother's Battlegroup" or
"MATT" (Mothers Against Taliban and Terrorists).
With stresses within, we will look for
the biggest rock to stand on
and give them a harsh fingershaking.
Taliban..don't mess with mothers!

Taliban rockets slam into Kandahar Airfield

Feb 11, 2007 04:18 PM
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – The long period of calm at Kandahar Airfield was shattered Sunday night when two rebel rockets slammed into the base, injuring one NATO soldier.
The force of the explosion sprayed gravel into the face the injured man, causing minor lacerations, said Capt. Andre Salloum, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force. "He was treated for minor injuries at the ISAF medical facility and will be released tonight," he said. Lt-Cmdr. Kris Phillips, a spokesman for the Canadian Forces, said the injured soldier was not a Canadian. No damage to buildings was reported and, for security reasons, Salloum refused to discuss where the rockets hit inside the camp.
The Taliban have been threatening to launch a so-called spring offensive against NATO forces, but for the last two weeks have mostly confined their attacks to positions manned by Afghan police. The lone exception came Saturday when a suicide car bomber went after a Canadian convoy, prematurely detonating his explosive-packed vehicle, killing only himself and causing just minor damage to an armoured patrol car. No Canadians were injured. Complete Story

Uxbridge Supports the Troops Day

Saturday, April 21st, 2007
The town of Uxbridge has proclaimed Sat. April 21st as "Uxbridge Supports The Troops Day", large parade through town beginning at 11:00am starting from the Legion on Franklin St. and making its way to Elgin Park, a mass rally of support to begin immediately after, entertainment and guest speakers from both the political and entertainment field to be confirmed later.
Appealing to all citizens of Uxbridge township and neighbouring communities to come out, dressed in red, waving homemade signs and Canadian flags in support of our troops. All proceeds to be donated to Sapper Mike McTeague Wounded Warriors Fund to provide care and comfort to our troops and their families. the rally portion of the day is slated to begin at approx noon and last until approx. 4:00 pm

Saturday, February 10, 2007

If Guelph can do it.....

Let's Decorate Our Cities with Yellow Ribbons for Our Soldiers

In the next couple weeks, soldiers from Rotation 2 in Afghanistan will be coming home. Are we ready? Recently, I read a write up in the Guelph Mercury. (see below) Yellow Ribbons will be adorning Guelph when the troops return home. Let's do the same! Let's share our pride, our support.. and welcome our Heroes Home!

Further note: I drove to Guelph this evening and witnessed a spectacular site. Many yellow ribbons fluttered in the breeze from the lamposts in front of Guelph's City Hall and to stand there and hear the ribbons fluttering in the wind, makes your heart melt. Thank you Guelph. It has has left me filled with pride and an overwhelming sense of appreciation- I can only imagine what it will do for our soldiers.

© m.m.

Picture taken by: Military Mom


Guelph's City Hall Feb. 10, 2007 ~Picture taken by Military Mom

© m.m.

Story published by the Guelph Mercury on February 9th, 2007:

Yellow ribbons on city buildings will greet troops
GUELPH (Feb 9, 2007)
The City of Guelph will attach yellow ribbons to municipal buildings this month as a show of support for troops returning from Afghanistan, says Mayor Karen Farbridge.
The ribbons, a symbol borrowed from military campaigns in the U.S., will be placed on the front doors of city hall. Managers at other city-owned buildings will be asked to do the same, Farbridge said.
By the end of this month, 12 soldiers from the 11th Field Artillery Regiment, a Guelph-based reserve unit, are expected back from their six-month tour of duty. Some regular forces soldiers currently in Afghanistan who call Guelph home will also be here on leave this month, the military said.
As the soldiers return, the Canadian Forces are asking citizens, businesses and municipalities to display yellow ribbons in prominent locations as a welcome home.
Although the military says any yellow ribbon will do, car magnets and the like can be bought through the Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency at

Yellow Ribbons Decorate Guelph

Many thanks to D.B., for directing me to The City of Guelph's website where I found this press release! :

City of Guelph welcomes soldiers home with yellow ribbons

Yellow ribbons are blowing nobly in front of City Hall and City facilities today to honour and recognize soldiers from Guelph’s 11th Field Regiment who are returning from Afghanistan.
“We acknowledge the dedication of Canadian troops abroad, and in particular we wholeheartedly welcome the returning members of Guelph’s 11th Regiment,” says Guelph’s Mayor, Karen Farbridge. “It’s wonderful to have them back at home, and we’re thankful they’ve returned uninjured.”
The yellow ribbons are a tribute to mark the community’s appreciation for the solders’ service. They are meant to show the City’s acknowledgement of and respect for the soldiers who left their civilian lives behind for six months to serve in Afghanistan. In other displays of support, staff in the City’s Revenue and Taxation Division wears red on Fridays as a symbol of encouragement towards Canadian troops. ‘Red Fridays’ is a national initiative that acknowledges the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers and their families.

For information contact:
Tara Sprigg(519) 822-1260 ext. 2610

A further note:
MacKinnon Transport of Guelph is in the process of putting ribbons on their property and their trucks will have ribbons and many employees have the magnets and/or a ribbon on their personal vehicles as well.

A big "HUA" for The City of Guelph
and MacKinnon Transport!!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Our Wounded Warrior

Physiotherapists encourage Sapper Mike McTeague
to walk at St John's Hospital
To help other injured soldiers, his father Sean and family friend Captain Wayne Johnston have established the Sapper Mike McTeague Wounded Warriors Fund, their attempt to create something positive out of something terrible. The fund, started in October, has collected about $50,000. The goal is $250,000. The warriors fund would pay for hands-free phone sets, DVD players, iPods, laptop computers, whatever is needed. It could also help families defray smaller expenses, such as hospital parking, that add up during long recoveries back home. And, say the men, it would show the wounded they're not forgotten.
"It can aid in the healing," says Johnston, president of the fund. "It's an extremely effective way for Canadians, regardless of political leanings, to show they support the troops."
McTeague's hospital room is decorated with a poster and letter from grade school kids, and he's got plenty more cards stored away. One girl, nearly 8, wrote that for her birthday party she wanted donations to his fund instead of presents. And could he or a family member attend?
Shy and soft-spoken, McTeague reacts to the attention with a quick smile and a slight blush.
He was the kind of kid, he says, who liked playing with his army men and asking his father about his experiences in the reserves. "I'm following in his footsteps," says McTeague, who joined the reserves after high school and hopes to become a police officer.
He volunteered for Afghanistan, attracted by the money, experience and chance to travel. No regrets, says the 6-foot-1, rail-thin soldier, wearing a red T-shirt boasting an army logo.
His memories of the bombing are sketchy. He recalls being on patrol in a village, staring off into the desert, when he felt a wave hit him and he blacked out.
He woke up on a stretcher, hearing his name, feeling a tourniquet on his leg. Helicopters landed nearby. He woke up next in hospital in Kandahar with a breathing tube down his throat.
He woke up again in Germany. Doctors there removed part of his bowel. Shrapnel had entered his lower abdomen and exited on the side above his hip.
During all this, he never thought he'd die, he says. "I just kept thinking, `Now I'm on the way to recovery.'" He was upset, however, that he'd missed out – his unit had been promised two beers after the patrol.
"We were talking together before we got blown up," his buddy Denver Williams, 30, reminds him.
Williams, from the same unit, has dropped by to visit. His hand and lower legs were badly injured in the same attack. A toe was blown off, but was found in his boot and reattached. His dog tag, hanging over his heart, stopped a ball bearing. "I'd be a goner," he says.
On this day at St. John's, on Cummer Ave. in Willowdale, word spreads that a new guy has arrived. It's Master Corporal Jody Mitic from Brampton, who stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan and lost both his legs below the knees. McTeague and Williams will visit him.
The two buddies, both in Afghanistan for less than two months, talk about the trip to Europe they had planned for an upcoming leave. "We'll still make the trip, when we're healed," says McTeague.
There's a ways to go. At home in Orillia, he'll continue physiotherapy.
The extent of the nerve damage caused by the ball bearing through his neck is unknown. He can't have an MRI scan because of the metal fragments still in his body.
"We're working without a diagnosis," says physiotherapist Sydney Johnson.
Doctors at Sunnybrook hospital performed skin grafts and operated on his legs. His left leg, so shattered that a metal bar holds the bones together, can't yet fully bear his weight.
"There are days I'd get depressed," he says. "I'd think, `How much longer will I be here? When will I do things on my own?' It would feel like forever.
"Then, the next day, I'd wake up feeling better. When you make progress, it keeps you up."
A big milestone, he says, was feeding himself. Scratching himself was good, too, he remembers with a laugh.
It's time for physiotherapy and the long, lanky soldier looks like he's unwinding as he slowly stands up. Johnson has him climb stairs and come down using only one crutch. "The army mentality kicks in," she says. "He's not afraid to push hard."
Following behind, Tom Succamore, 77, pushes the wheelchair in case McTeague needs it. Succamore, a retired construction superintendent who served in the British army, heard about the injured soldiers and started visiting McTeague and Williams nearly every day.
"I leave here so enthused," Succamore says. "I rejoice in myself seeing their progress."
McTeague's therapy finished, he and Succamore head to the hospital cafeteria. A man in the
cashier line sizes up McTeague – army T-shirt, wheelchair – and says, "Proud of you, bud."
"Thanks," says McTeague, quick smile, slight blush. Complete Story

For more information about the Wounded Warriors Fund click:

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Spartacat Deployed With Next Roto?

Sens' Spartacat Scores a Hit

February 04, 2007
Ottawa's mascot, Spartacat, typically carries around a cannon-like contraption to shoot hot dogs into the crowd, but the weapon got him in hot water with a member of the Canadian armed services one night last week.
The Senators were hosting Canadian Forces Appreciation Night and Spartacat was pulling his usual antics, loading his weapon and firing blindly into the crowd. On one occasion, when he pulled the trigger without looking, he hit a soldier square in the face, drawing blood.
Mortified at what he had done, Spartacat rushed to the scene to apologize to the man, who was attending the game with his daughter, and returned with some team memorabilia to ease the pain.
At last report, Canadian authorities were looking into the possibility of sending along Spartacat when they dispatch their next round of reinforcements to Afghanistan.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Canada Goes Shopping

Boeing and Canada Sign C$3.4 Billion Deal for Four C-17s

Feb 2 -Boeing Co., the second-biggest U.S. defense contractor, signed a C$3.4 billion contract with the Canadian military for four C-17 Globemaster III's transport aircrafts for Canada's Department of National Defence to provide new strategic airlift mobility capabilities for the Canadian Forces. The first delivery will occur as soon as fall 2007. The Canadian C-17's will be based at Canadian Forces Base Trenton.
Public Works Minister Michael Fortier and National Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor made the announcement today in Ottawa. General Rick Hillier, Canada's top soldier, said the planes will help with military missions in the country's Arctic region and abroad in places such as in Afghanistan.
``It is going to enable us to be there, to be there with the right loads,'' Hillier said.
Boeing will deliver the aircraft from its Long Beach, Calif., factory where the advanced airlifters are assembled.

"Boeing is pleased that Canada joins its international partners -- the U.S. Air Force, the U.K. Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force -- in selecting C-17, the world's leading airlifter to modernize its defense forces airlift fleet," said Dave Bowman, vice president and C-17 program manager. "We look forward to delivering C-17s and a new world-class airlift capability to Canada, with industry-leading safety, quality and reliability that all C-17 customers enjoy."
As the only tactical airlifter with strategic range, the C-17 has become the world's airlifter of choice. Boeing is on contract to design, build, deliver and support 190 U.S. Air Force C-17s. The new Canadian C-17s are already factored into the C-17 production plan and will not extend the Long Beach production line beyond mid-2009, when the last C-17 is scheduled for delivery. In addition to the 160 C-17s now in service with the U.S. Air Force, the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force operates four C-17s, and the Royal Australian Air Force in late 2006 took delivery of its first of four C-17s. With today's announcement, Canada will become the fourth nation to operate C-17s.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Wounded Warriors Benefit Concert

Benefit for the

Saturday, February 3rd

8:00 P.M.

Fiddler's Green, Cambridge, Ontario

$25 per ticket

Julian Austin

Country singer Julian Austin may be coming to Cambridge for the first time on Saturday . . . but it will be for a farewell as he's going to close the bar he's playing. Literally.
After a decade on the scene, owner Nash Cohen has sold Fiddler's Green Irish Pub -- everything, including its longtime resident Emily, the oft reported ghost of the Green.
"It was an offer I couldn't refuse," says Cohen, of the closing that marks the second prominent live concert venue to disappear within six months following last year's abrupt relocation of the Lil Big Horn to Brantford.
Cohen, nevertheless, wants Fiddler's Green to go out in style, so he's organized a benefit for The Sapper Mike McTeague Wounded Warriors Fund featuring Canadian country star Julian Austin, bagpipe rockers The Mudmen and AC/DC tribute band For Those About To Rock.
Tickets are $25 and all door proceeds will go to the fund, which contributes quality of life items such as personal blankets and individual entertainment items designed to lift the morale of soldiers wounded on the front lines.
Country performer Austin will be donating $5 of each sale of his current Red & White CD to the fund, which is near and dear to his heart.
"I do a lot of stuff for the military and that's a rewarding passion for me as well, working alongside our men and women in uniform," said the New Brunswick-born Austin on Tuesday from the home he shares with wife Angela in Steinbach, Man.
"It's a great cause."
As for Austin, named Rising Star at the Canadian Country Music Awards in 1997, he's on the comeback trail, having led the kind of life worthy of an immortal country song.
In his rather frank posting, Austin writes about his previous life and arrest as a cocaine dealer and later, his rise and fall as one of this country's most promising country music stars.
Spawning an earthy likeability that captured the hearts of many Canadian country music lovers, Austin earned a platinum album for his 1996 debut What My Heart Already Knows and a big chart-topping hit with Little Ol' Kisses.
Even though his criminal days were behind him, Austin's substance abuse still remained a major bug-a-boo that the singer admits eventually derailed his career.
"Later on down the road I ran into problems with my record company BMG due to the fact that my half-a-tonne of cocaine I was blasting up my nose a day made me quite unmanageable to say the least and quite the insane madman to deal with, plain and simple," Austin writes.
Commenting on the posting, Austin says his life is an open book for a reason.
"I'm not ashamed to share my past for both good and bad," explains Austin, clean and sober since 2003.
"I receive a lot of e-mails and people come up to me time-to-time telling me they can relate with my story in that they've gone through the same thing or are going through the same thing, or they're doing better because of reading my story.
"We all have our struggles in life and we all have our demons. It's been quite a lot of time for me and my demons are at rest. And I must say, I like my life better a little toned down and not so reckless, wild and selfish."
Now living a life of "weight training, walking, jogging and eating healthy," Austin has taken two-and-a-half years to make his self-financed album Red & White, taking time wherever possible out of his schedule to entertain the troops.
"What NATO is doing and the Canadian soldiers are doing for the people of Afghanistan is pretty great," says Austin, currently working on a new album.
"I love them."
.. story continued

For More information about The Wounded Warrior's Fund:

I'd like to share some information about a group I hold dear to my heart - a group of wonderful friends- a new family - I have journeyed through these past 6 months with:


"It is our mission to provide ongoing support to extended families and friends of Canadian Forces personnel who are currently deployed, awaiting deployment, or have returned from Afghanistan and/or other overseas missions. Through meetings, special events, and community awareness programs, our group is committed to increase support for our troops as well as our members."

Goals and Objectives

  • Provide emotional support for all members of the group and individuals connected to Canadian Forces
  • Build the morale of those deployed through participation in community events
  • Promote awareness of the men and women serving in all branches of the military
  • Provide information via round table discussions and guest speakers
  • Respond to requests for support materials such as yellow ribbon pins, t-shirts, etc.

    Who We Are

    We are a welcoming community of families and friends of Canadian military serving in Afghanistan including those who have returned or have yet to be deployed. A few parents and family members first met in the summer of 2006 to share their feelings and concerns for their loved ones overseas. Through information sharing, monthly meetings, guest speakers, community events, and the media, the number of members has grown to include nearly 40 family groups. The name officially became “Families of Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan” in September, 2006.

    What We Do

    Meetings are normally held on the last Saturday of each month and often include guest speakers on such topics as stress, reunions, special events, and information about the mission. Commencing February 24, 2007, these meetings will be held at the Wing 404 in Waterloo. Special events such as Red Friday Rallies, Parades, and Talk shows on radio and T.V. have also been organized to garner support for our troops. For further information about our organization, ordering support materials, or becoming a member, please contact us at