of 31 CER (the Elgins) 48 FES and Royal Highland Fusiliers Waterloo Regiment
A big HUA for Waterloo!
Article March 6-07 in "The Record"
Waterloo honours returning soldiers
WATERLOO (Mar 6, 2007)
Cpl. John Sugrim spent his 25th birthday in Afghanistan, building roads and digging trenches as part of local military reserve forces.
Last night, Sugrim was back in his military fatigues, this time to shake hands with Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran just days after returning home from a six-month tour of duty.
While he is happiest to see his family, fiancée and baby niece and goddaughter, Sugrim said he was also thankful for the support he's gotten from total strangers in the community since returning home late last month.
"When you go out to Fairview Park mall and see people with yellow ribbons pinned to their jacket or coat, it just brings a smile to your face," said Sugrim, who lives in Kitchener.
Last night, he was of 10 soldiers with local reserve units, 31 Combat Engineer Regiment, 48 Field Engineer Squadron and the Royal Highland Fusiliers, honoured by the City of Waterloo as returning veterans of war.
As she thanked each soldier, Halloran said she was surprised to see how young they were.
"That's what really struck me is your youth and what you've gone through," she told the soldiers, most of whom are in their 20s. "None of us can even imagine the experiences you've had."
The soldiers also honoured the city for its policies supporting city employees who join the reserves.
The city allows employees time off for military training and tops up salaries for those on leave. Four city employees are in the reserves, including troop commander Lt. Ron Ormston, also a scientist at development services.
Kitchener, Cambridge and the Region of Waterloo have similar policies for employees who join the reserves.
Aside from serving in Afghanistan, reservists also support their local communities, Ormston said, by cleaning up after floods or digging out after winter storms.
The presentation comes just days before the military's major recruiting drive in Cambridge aimed to attract as many as 100 new applicants.
The Canadian army increasingly relies on reserves to boost its forces in Afghanistan, said Henrik Noesgaard, of the Canadian Forces Liaison Council, which presented the city with an award.
About 300 reservists were sent to Afghanistan this year. That number is expected to double by early next year, Noesgaard said.
"It's critically important that we support our reservists," he said.
Along with Sugrim, other local Afghanistan veterans honoured at Waterloo City Hall last night were Corporals Matthew Austin, Rodney Grubb, Cameron Hunt, Vincent Lacharite, Christopher Lock, Ryan Pagnacco, Justin Prno, Jessica Umlandt and Lee Willcocks.