Sunday, May 27, 2007

Ramp Ceremony for Cpl Matthew McCully

He's coming home...
Photos by: Sgt Craig Fiander, DND

May 26, 2007 Kandahar, Afghanistan
Comrades of Corporal Matthew J. McCully slowly march his casket to the waiting C130 Hercules transport plane. Approximately 500 members of the Joint Task Force and Soldiers from other International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) countries gathered to pay their respects for Corporal McCully during a Repatriation Ramp Ceremony.Soldiers stood in a rigid military salute as the procession passed by, and as a piper's mournful tune echoed across the base.
McCully, 25, grew up in Orangeville, Ont., but his father and step-mother live in Prince George, B.C.
He was described as a likeable and professional soldier by Maj. Peter Sullivan, acting commander of Canada's Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team, or OMLT, of which McCully was a member.
"Matt McCully was a tremendously professional soldier," Sullivan said Saturday at Kandahar Airfield.
"I found him certainly to be a mature young man, and somebody whose company was enjoyed by all, so he will be greatly missed."
The OMLT team trains Afghans to fight as organized units.
McCully, who was based out of CFB Petawawa, was killed during Operation Hoover, an operation intended to push Taliban militants out of the volatile Zhari district.
He is the 55th Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan since 2002.
The incident occurred roughly 35 kilometres west of Kandahar City in the volatile Zhari district. Operation Hoover is the largest offensive in nearly two months that Canadian troops have participated in.
McCully, a signals operator from 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Headquarters and Signals Squadron, died alongside the Afghan soldiers he helped mentor.
"During this operation the Afghan forces were moving forward, leading this operation to clear some of the areas, making sure that the Afghan people there were secure and that there were no Taliban in the area," Col. Mike Cessford, deputy commander of Canadian forces in Afghanistan, confirmed Friday.
"Our mentoring team are comrades-in-arms with the Afghans -- they share the risk, they work closely with them -- and unfortunately as the soldier was moving forward with other Canadians and other Afghan soldiers an IED was triggered and he was killed."
One other Canadian soldier, also a member of the mentoring team, and an Afghan interpreter were wounded in the incident. The Canadian was airlifted to Kandahar Airfield with non-life threatening injuries, while the Afghan stayed with the unit.
Gen. Rick Hillier, Chief of Defence Staff, said in Toronto Friday McCully served an extremely important role in giving Afghans the necessary tools to help bring security to their country.
"One of our key lines of operation is to help build the capacity of the Afghan people to do their own security," Hillier told CTV's Mike Duffy Live.
"We do that by working the Afghan National Army, which started about four-and-a-half years ago, and helping make their soldiers into trained, effective, professional soldiers. And turn those soldiers as collectives into effective units."
Operation Hoover also includes Portuguese soldiers and British air support but troops from the Afghan National Army are taking the lead in the charge.

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