Tuesday, July 31, 2007

TUAV Flight- Roto 2

Corporal Aaron Dycke recently returned to 19 Wing Comox after a six-month tour as a Safety Systems Technician packing parachutes for Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (TUAV) in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Here is a story Cpl Dycke wrote for the "Totem Times" about his experience. Welcome Home Cpl Dycke.

A TUAV launches from its platform
at Kandahar Air Field last November.

Our tour in Kandahar has been a time I shall never forget. I had the distinct pleasure of serving with the Tactical Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle (TUAV) flight as a part of the Battle Group of Op Athena, Task Force 3-06 at Kandahar Air Field (KAF) in Afghanistan.
The flights are comprised of CF members from all three elements with the most current flight, roto three, being made up of members from 403 Helicopter Operational Training Squadron and the 4th Air Defence Regiment both from CFB Gagetown. I volunteered for the job because of my experience and qualifications packing parachutes.
Our job was to maintain visual surveillance for the troops on the ground with a large remote control aircraft. Most of us had trained together a year before our tour started and developed a strong friendship before even landing in this theater of operations. Air Force, Army, Navy, French and English, men and women, with such a diverse group we have worked together as a seamless team with very few faults or problems.
At first I was a little nervous but mostly excited about coming here. But as soon as we got off of the aircraft there was a small party of people to welcome and help us into the KAF routine. When I first volunteered for this tour I didn't really realize how important Canada's role here was until that first welcome speech given to us by an American General. He stated that "Having a Canadian face on this conflict will make the rest of the world realize just how vital it is to secure this country and establish their new government. Because the world recognizes your ethical and moral values and that you won't enter or be pushed into a conflict unless you truly believe in its goal." Hearing this from a General from another country emphasized this statement even more.

Cpl Dycke's TUAV Flight served in Afghanistan
between August 2006 and February 2007.

We started our training in September of 2005 and spent some time at Canadian Forces Base Wainwright, then CFB Suffield and then more training at CFB Edmonton. That was when I started to grow fond of the "field life" that I had missed out on at an Air Force base. Most of our TUAV Flight is from CFB Edmonton and I think that is where I learned the most. Not only the pre-deployment training which taught soldiering skills relevant to the mission, but also taught us about our team members. Spending time with them we had some dinners and barbeques and got to know each others' families. It takes a certain kind of person to be a military spouse. Strong and supportive doesn't even begin to describe them. We all had to spend a lot of time away from our families - some of our guys have been in KAF for nine months!
I can't speak for everyone but from my perspective, (and I'm sure not everyone will be able to understand this) but it brought my wife and I even closer, and made me realize the things I have to change about myself to be a better father and husband. I also realized, (which I'm sure thousands did before me) that it's not easy being a husband, father, and a soldier. But we just keep reminding ourselves that what we do here protects them at home. Having a wife that grew up as a "base brat" helped since she already had a firm understanding of the military life since her father and grandfather were both in the military. Knowing there is a strong support network at home for your family also helps alleviate the separation anxieties.
Now I'm not going to throw tales at you that we lived in holes in the ground and ate bugs and stuff like that. We stayed in semi-permanent shelters, rarely left the base but lived by the pager waiting to be called to work. We lived with the Battle Group and watched them come and go. Now that is a hard life which I can't even begin imagine! These men and women go out on the front lines for around a month at a time. They have bottles of water for their showers, eat field rations, and then they come back for a day or two, have a hot shower, do their laundry, have a warm meal and then go back out.
Corporal Aaron Dycke receiving the General Campaign Star from Brigadier-General Timothy Grant at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan in February 2007. CREDIT: DND
Listening to them talk you have to admire their courage and bravery. I remember hearing one saying to his buddy in passing "man, I didn't think I was coming home from this one." Personally I felt that I wasn't doing enough to help them but whenever I mentioned I was with TUAV I always got a big "thank you!" from them. When I heard that because we where there, watching, flying over head they could sleep easier at night just hearing the sound of our engines knowing someone was watching out for them and they knew they weren't alone it made me feel like my little contribution was worth it.
I'll admit there where some times when we first came here when we got rocketed or mortared that I worried for my mortality but after a month we became desensitized to them. And they became more of a nuisance than anything. We'd hear the explosion, have to stop work, get our gear on go to the bunkers and sign in and wait for the all clear and then go back to work. But it's these protocols that keep us alive. Frustrated at times with the crazy hours of operations or trying to order parts and living on mess food we all developed an odd sense of humor that was unique in our own. One has to have a dark sense of humor to keep their sanity in check in a place like this.
All in all it was an amazing experience that I wouldn't have traded for anything. I learned a lot about myself and my fellow man, got a new found respect for life, deepened my love of our country, and I know this may sound cheesy to some but after years of absence at my own fault I even found God again. I also had some amazing instructions in patience and tolerance and feel that I have matured a great deal. This... is the military life.

Ribbons Support Troops, Not Politics

Editorial - Friday, July 27, 2007
The Sault Star

We see nothing wrong with the fire department, the police department or any other public service vehicle displaying a modest public sign of support for our troops in Afghanistan. This issue has raised some criticism in other municipalities. The concern centres around the idea that the public service - especially emergency response workers - should never show overt displays of political sentiments while on the job.

We agree, but this isn't the case with yellow ribbons recently placed on Sault Ste. Marie firetrucks. Wishing the best for our men and women in harm's way is a universal sentiment. Or at least it should be. If you believe we should pull out of Afghanistan now, or if you believe we should double our efforts there, you can still support or troops. You can vote Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Green or whatever and still support our troops. Anyone who suggests otherwise is playing a cynical political game. Our firefighters and soldiers are kindred spirits. Both jobs involve workers heading into a dangerous situation. They recognize there are risks involved and they accept these risks. It's natural they would support each other.

What are your thoughts? Send in your comments below.

Yellow Ribbons and More Support in Sault Ste Marie

July 31, 2007

Thank you J. for bringing this to my attention! Amazing news!
Below is a copy of a email from Sault Ste. Marie city councillor Susan Myers after council unanimously decided to place support decals on the city vehicles.
A big HUA to Susan Myers, Jennifer, May Adshead, City Council and Sault Ste. Marie Military Family Support Group!

July 26, 2006

Hi Folks,

In response to May Adshead ’s note below to the Military Family Support Group supporters, I want to share the following.

On behalf of City Council, I extend a hearty thank you to May Adshead for her work in coordinating the media event this morning with the SSM Police Services, ER and Fire Services. It was a low key event, not intended to become a political statement at all.

As most of you know, I worked with May to bring forward at her request, a resolution to City Council (seconded by Councillor Pat Mick ), for approval to direct City Staff – Police Chief Bob Davies and Fire and ER Services Chief Lynn McCoy to display the yellow Support Our Troops ribbons on all Police, Fire and ER vehicles.

It is important to note the significance of the fact that Council, by a unanimous vote, approved this resolution.

You might wonder why that was required – as Chief McCoy mentioned this morning – the City owns these vehicles and thus it is necessary for Council to provide this approval. Secondly, Chief McCoy further mentioned to me that this is historic in that many, many groups and organizations have asked over the years, for an opportunity to place some sort of “logo” on Police or Fire vehicles. The media picked up on the same issue and while interviewing me, Brian Kelly from the Sault Star asked me “why is City Council permitting this display and what will you say to other groups such as Breast Cancer should they want their pink ribbon displayed?”

My response to both Chief McCoy and Brian Kelly is that this is a unique circumstance. Our troops are not an organization, they are us. They did not ask us to “market and promote them”, their loved ones asked that we show them our support. The troops are our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, Mothers and Fathers, friends – our loved ones.

Other organizations, regardless of how worthy and commendable their cause, would not see this Councillor bringing or supporting a similar resolution. Brian Kelly further asked “what do you say to those who do not like this move by the City because they are against the war?”

I reiterated what I said at City Council when I put the resolution forward – this is not a political statement. City Council is taking no position on the war. City Council IS however expressing an act of support to our citizens who have served, are serving and will be serving. In April, City Council presented plaques expressing our gratitude to the first group of reservists who returned from their mission. This is a logical extension of that support.

I am taking the time to express this information to you all as background in understanding that I am proud that our City Council and staff did not hesitate or waiver in this step to support our troops and in this “politically correct” society of today, where often common sense goes out the window, I am grateful.

Thanks again to May in particular for her work on behalf of the SSM Military Family Support Group.


Susan Myers
City Councillor Ward Two


by Brian Kelly

The city’s decision to put yellow decals and magnets supporting Canadian troops on emergency services vehicles “means a lot” to men and women serving overseas, a reservist soldier says. “When you’re in uniform, it’s kind of an unspoken thing — you’re always there to help and support each other,” said Capt. Grant Iaconis. The 49th Field Regiment member, who completed a six-and-a-half month deployment in Afghanistan in February, said the public show of support boosts morale of soldiers who are thousands of miles away from home. “It feels good to know that everyone is behind you — especially emergency services like this,” he said. “It’s one big family of people helping people, whether it be the police, fire, ambulance or the Canadian forces. We’re all in it for one purpose and that’s to help people.” The markers, with the message Support Our Troops and a Canadian flag, were put on about 40 police patrol, fire service vehicles and ambulances Thursday.
The magnets and decals, paid for with taxpayer money, cost less than $200. “We are supporting their efforts,” said Chief Lynn McCoy of Sault Ste. Marie Fire Services. “We’re thinking of them. We care about them.” The move follows a resolution passed unanimously at a July 9 city council meeting calling on the decal placement to “indicate our support for our troops.” Ward 2 Coun. Susan Myers, who moved the motion, said Canadians serving in Afghanistan are “top of mind” for her. Close friends of hers have a son serving in that country. The first-term councillor went to high school with Sally West, whose daughter, Capt. Nichola Goddard, was killed in action in 2006. Goddard’s grandparents, Dr. Michael and Kathleen West, live in Sault Ste. Marie. “That hit me very strongly,” Myers said Thursday at the main fire hall on Tancred Street. “I thought we really need to be supporting our Saultites and all Canadians.” There is no time limit on how long the decals will be on the city vehicles. “It’s totally open-ended,” said Myers. Similar decals remain on Toronto fire trucks and ambulances after a ruckus about their possible removal. They were supposed to be removed in September after a year. But in June, city council voted unanimously to keep the decals on for an undisclosed amount of time. Some Toronto residents expressed concern that the decals suggested the city supports the military’s presence in Afghanistan and not just the soldiers. Sault Ste. Marie isn’t taking a stand on the fight against the Taliban with the decals and magnets, said Myers. “This is not a political statement of the war one way or another,” she said. “It’s to support our troops serving.” Five Sault-based reservists were recognized with a plaque of appreciation by city council in April. “I thought this was the next logical step for us as a community to make a statement,” said Myers. “We support our troops. Period.” May Adshead said her son, Brandon, “is very happy” about decals being put on emergency service vehicles. The Sir James Dunn collegiate graduate, a corporal with the 49th Field Regiment, ends a six-month tour in Afghanistan in August. “It’s good to know that there is support here back home,” said Adshead. While Myers backed Canadian soldiers, she won’t support charitable groups wanting to see their decals affixed to city vehicles. “Instead of it being looked upon as a marketing opportunity to in some way promote a cause or a mandate, we initiated this as a statement on behalf of the community to support our troops,” said Myers. “They’re doing their job regardless of whether we did this or not.” The magnets and decals will be put on the sides of ambulances and fire vehicles and the rear of police cruisers to maximize exposure.


MP Supports our Troops

With the debate of the "yellow ribbon" and support of our troops, it was encouraging when I read this letter that MP Laurie Hawn had written to all fellow members of parliament. How refreshing after all the other discouraging and upsetting emails sent to military families lately by a Mississauga councillor.

A big HUA to Mr Hawn of Edmonton for your support and encouraging support for our family members and friends serving in the military!


June 21, 2007

Laurie Hawn, MP
Edmonton Centre
400 Justice Bldg.
House of Commons

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing today to members from all parties to support our troops. Today, I will be working with Edmonton City Councillor Mike Nickel to have the yellow ribbon "support our troops" decal put on municipal emergency response vehicles.

While I know many of us have the disagreements over the deployment of Canadian troops to Afghanistan, we do not and should not disagree over supporting the safe return of our men and women in uniform to Canada, and that is what the yellow ribbon represents.

I am urging all of my fellow parliamentarians to work with their respective municipal councillors and governments to have the yellow ribbon placed on their municipal emergency vehicles. Imagine a nation wide campaign to unite the country over the bravery of our soldiers. It is a small way that we can show we support their bravery and sacrifice for the freeedom that we enjoy every day.

Thank you so much for a wonderful spring session, and I hope some of you can help your cities and towns and rural villages support our troops over the summer.

Laurie Hawn, MP
Edmonton Centre

To view Mr Hawn's site or to send him a note, click here

Efforts in Afghanistan

Brig.-General Tim Grant

The man who has led Canadian troops in Afghanistan for the past nine months says he thought about his wife as a bomb went off near a convoy he was travelling in last week. (see posting below)
“The first thing that went through my mind is: `What’s my wife going to say?’,” Brig.-Gen. Tim Grant said Monday in an interview with CTV’s Canada AM, noting he had also been on hand when a rocket attack occurred a couple of days before Thursday’s suicide bomb attack.
“It shouldn’t be any surprise that she was unhappy with me when I finally made contact,” he said. Grant survived both attacks unscathed.
No other Canadian troops in the three vehicle convoy were injured when a suicide bomber detonated a car southeast of Kandahar City.
But the attack was powerful enough to make an RG-31 Nayala vehicle roll in a ditch and flip over. Grant had nothing but praise for the Canadian soldiers who in the convoy.
“The things they (the soldiers) did in split-second timing saved the lives of numerous people,” said Grant. “There is no doubt in my mind that if they hadn’t done what they did in the way they did it, then everyone would not have walked away.”
Unlike many generals with the militaries in other countries, Canadian generals use the same ground transport as the troops rather than travel by helicopter.
Grant is slated to leave Afghanistan this week after a nine-month stay and will hand the command of Canadian forces in Kandahar to Brig.-Gen. Guy Laroche, who arrived at the base on Friday.
Grant said on the weekend that he is handing Laroche an Afghanistan that is more confident that it was a year ago.
He said Canadian and NATO efforts in Afghanistan have helped save the lives of 40,000 children.
Grant credited the success to improvements in health care, which has led to a drop in the region’s infant mortality rate.
In an interview with CBC Newsworld also broadcast Monday, Grant expressed frustration with the difficulty of explaining the importance of the Afghanistan mission to the Canadian public.
“I can give you examples across the board about how we’re making a difference with the people here.”
Grant told the CBC. “This is a poor country, 30 years of war, it needs a lot of help to get back on track.”
Grant blamed a lack of information for poll results that suggest Canadians are uneasy with Canada’s role in Afghanistan.
“The focus always ends up being on casualties, attacks, on the military-security situation,” he said. “In fact, where we’re making the most difference is on reconstruction and development.”
“If I could find the magic solution to explain to Canadians how important this is, it would make me a happy man.”
See: Progress in Afghanistan

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Taliban Metal Crashes Medal Ceremony

Photo by: Cpl Dan Pop
Brigadier-General Tim Grant, Joint Task Force Afghanistan Commander, presents the General Campaign Star to Corporal Demys Boucher from the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team’s (KPRT) Force Protection Company (FP Coy). The FP Coy personnel served with the KPRT in Kandahar from November 2006 to July 2007.

Globe and Mail

July 25, 2007
MASUM GHAR, AFGHANISTAN -- The rocket slammed in below the ridge line just after a senior officer arrived to hand out medals to departing Canadians in what was once the Taliban heartland overlooking the lush vineyards of the Panjwai district.
Everyone at this rugged base dived for cover. The communications net crackled, checking if anyone had been hit, and the incoming arc was plotted so a patrol could be sent out to check the launching site.

"We get a couple a week," said Major Dan Bobbitt, who commands Canada's artillery unit. It was a fortunate miss. A few metres higher or lower and the rocket's warhead would have detonated among the gathering Canadians. "They usually fire with a timer and often from inside a village, so we can't just target the launcher," Major Bobbitt added. This time no one was hurt. But the explosion shattered the searing heat and sent a cloud of grit wafting down. It served as a grim reminder that the Taliban are far from beaten.
Masum Ghar seems unlikely to join Vimy Ridge and Juno Beach in the proud lexicon of Canadian military victories. Schoolchildren a generation from now may never hear of it. Still, Canada has paid dearly for Masum Ghar.

"This is a piece of territory that is hugely important to Canada," Brigadier-General Tim Grant, told the assembled troops, gathered in a three-sided square to get their campaign medals and reflect on the bittersweet end of a tough deployment. "It's a time to reflect on what we have achieved and what we have lost, . ... and we have lost a lot."
Set in a mountainous bowl, Masum Ghar is emblematic of this war, a tough counterinsurgency in a distant land. Once a Taliban stronghold, Masum Ghar was seized in a battle nearly a year ago, when Canadian infantry fought uphill battles as rocket-propelled grenades rained down from Taliban positions on the heights.
During Operation Medusa, the battle that finished the Taliban as a conventional fighting force, it was at Masum Ghar that an U.S. A-10 Warthog pilot mistook a garbage fire for an enemy position and raked it with gunfire, killing one Canadian soldier and wounding 36 others.
As Brig.-Gen. Grant walked the ranks, pinning medals on desert camouflage fatigues, there were clearly moments of deep emotion.
"This is a very small token of a grateful nation," he said.
The ceremony was mostly for those reservists and others who will not be going home to Gagetown, N.B., where the majority of the battle group will assemble with their families to get their medals.
(As the returning battle group, based mainly on the Royal Canadian Regiment, prepared to head home, the lead elements of the next rotation, drawn mostly from the famed 22nd Regiment, known as the Vandoos (Note from Military Mom: 22nd Regiment or the number 22 translates to "Vingt-deux" in French - and hence the name: "Vandoos") and mostly from Quebec, were arriving for a six-month tour.)
"This is the last time I will see you guys here," Brig-Gen. Grant said to the returning soldiers.
He urged them to reflect on what they had accomplished. "Go and have a beer at the Legion," he said, because you, too, are veterans, no different from Korean or Second World War veterans "except that they are old and you are young." Unspoken was the reality that 66 Canadians won't grow old because of the war in Afghanistan.
Masum Ghar, now a major forward operating base, is home to Afghan National Army units as well as Canadian tanks, infantry and artillery. It commands a stunning view of both the lush Panjwai, west of Kandahar, and the rugged desert used as an infiltration route by the Taliban.
As the incoming rocket starkly demonstrated, the Taliban aren't far away.
In random conversations with more than a dozen soldiers, all of them counting the days until they leave, no one said they would miss Masum Ghar.
Despite the impressive repopulation of the Panjwai - the village streets and market stalls throng with returnees and children shyly wave at passing Canadian armoured vehicles - counterinsurgency operations continue. The ground-pounding infantrymen of Hotel Company, operating out of Masum Ghar, is at 23 battles and counting.

Photo Credit: Melissa Leblanc
Splayed across the bowl side is a huge Maple Leaf, a painstakingly laid mosaic of thousands of red and white-painted rocks. It, too, is emblematic, already fading. As the fledging Afghan National takes on an increasing share of the fighting, the Canadian presence may also fade into the background. But that's something for the future.

Change of Command for Canada's Air Force - July 26th

July 25, 2007 -
Command of Canada's Air Force will officially change during a ceremony to be held at: The Canada Aviation Museum
Thursday, July 26, 2007 at 11:30 a.m.

Shown Here: Lieutenant-General Angus Watt

Lieutenant-General Angus Watt will succeed Lieutenant-General Steve Lucas as the Commander of Air Command and Chief of the Air Staff. LGen Lucas has held this appointment since May 16, 2005, and is retiring after almost 38 years of distinguished service to Canada.

General Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff, will preside over the transfer of leadership.

A 50-person Honour Guard and Colour Party will be provided by 8 Wing Trenton, with music from the Canadian Forces Central Band and the Air Command Pipes and Drums.

New Vision Standards For CF Aircrew Candidates

July 25, 2007
Just in...a change in history..
Canada's Air Force has recently approved updated vision standards for aircrew candidates.

Under the new standards, applicants who wear glasses or contact lenses to provide modest correction to their vision are now eligible for consideration, whereas previously, applicants required uncorrected vision. The decision to adjust the minimum vision standard is based on the findings of a scientific review by a third party contractor with oversight from Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC).

"The updated standards are based on scientific measurements that more accurately reflect the reality of operator requirements," said Chief of Air Staff Medical Advisor, Captain (Navy) Cyd Courchesne. "This is good news for the Canadian Forces as well as for many aircrew candidates, who in the past did not quite meet the previous vision standards."

The previous standards were based on a Second World War-era policy that uncorrected vision was necessary to fly combat aircraft, however, this policy was not substantiated by scientific research. It was decided that the vision standard for aircrew candidates should be based on modern scientific testing in order to be as fair and as inclusive as possible to all those desiring to become Canadian Forces aircrew.

Within the aircrew occupations, the new vision standards have the most impact for prospective pilots. There will be no change in the expected flying performance of pilots because of the adjusted standards.

Applicants who have had corrective (laser) eye surgery are not eligible for entry into the pilot occupation.

The Canadian Forces has not had any difficulty attracting pilot applicants in the past several years. In the future, the new vision standard will result in a larger pool of applicants and a more competitive selection process.

George Bush and His Fallen Soldiers- Self Portrait?

I came across this mosaic portait of George Bush. The picture above was made by combining about 670 photos of fallen soldiers of the United States as well as other countries. Original creator of this image is unknown. Click on portrait to see images of soldiers.

See more of Maria's published pics at: funnycoolstuff

2007 Warriors' Day Parade

The 86th Warriors' Day Parade

90th Anniversary of

The Battle of Vimy Ridge

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

at 10:15 am

The Warriors' Day Parade is a unique and spectacular event that includes the colour, sound and traditions of Regiments and Squadrons as well as the recognition of those who served and those who serve today. Since 1921, the Parade has provided an opportunity to celebrate our military victories.
For participants and spectators, it is also an opportunity to show deep appreciation for the priceless gift of freedom given to us by our Veterans and those brave women and men presently serving in the Canadian Forces.

All members of the public are invited to view the Parade along its' route or from inside the Ricoh Coliseum at the CNE Grounds Toronto, ON. The Ricoh Coliseum is also fully accessible to the handicapped and has washroom facilities inside the facility. Since the saluting dais is located inside the Ricoh Coliseum, all bands will be playing once they enter and as they march past the Saluting Officer. An announcer will also provide information about each contingent.
Right after the parade is finished, ‘Salute to Heroes’, a magnificent mini-tattoo presented by the CNE
will also take place in the Coliseum so you won’t even have to leave your seats to continue enjoying
the show.

If you have not attended The Warriors' Day Parade before you are in for a very special experience. If you have participated previously the Warriors Day Council sincerely welcome you back.

Look forward to seeing you in August!

For further information,

for Tickets for Veterans and immediate families,

or to enter parade click link below:

Canadian Forces Officer Completes Cross-Country Cycling Tour in Support of Military Families

July 24, 2007 - Lieutenant-Commander Jean Marcotte will return from his two-month cycling tour across Canada in support of the CDS Military Families Fund, which was launched in April 2007 as a vehicle to assist Canadian military families at home and around the world.

Meet with LCdr Marcotte, his family and friends to acknowledge the end of his trip. LCdr Marcotte is a 37-year Canadian Forces (CF) member and avid cyclist. Donations have been collected since his departure representing one penny per kilometer cycled per donation and a representative of the Fund, Brigadier-General Martin will be present to accept a cheque for the CDS Military Families Fund from LCdr Marcotte.

LCdr Marcotte left Ottawa on June 2nd and first cycled to Newfoundland, where he dipped his bike into the Atlantic. After flying to Victoria, British Columbia, he then did the same in the Pacific and has made the trip home via central Canada. LCdr Marcotte is expected to cross into Ontario from the Champlain Bridge but his final stop will be on Parliament Hill.

WHERE:  Parliament Hill (by the Eternal flame)

WHEN: Wednesday at 10:15 a.m. (Event will take place rain or shine.)
An Excerpt from LCdr Marcotte's Journal:
Day 53 (July 24, 2007) - I left yesterday from a camp-siteocated at
Point Alexander approximately 10 km in north of Deep River.
The lady of the camp-site had pity for me and made me a delicious
hamburger when I told her that I was probably going to carry on my way
until Deep River because I had not eaten anything since 10h00 in the
morning. Finally a good meal and a beautiful camp-site where I met a
couple from Perth that was returning from White Horse passing by the
Yellowhead trail. If ever I cross Canada again I believe that I will
pass by this road. I left with an odometer indicating 6915.2 km.
Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, almost no wind but the little that
was present blew against me. I stopped in Petawawa and gave an
interview for the Petawawa Post for the CDS funds. Finally I stopped in
Shawville, Qc in a very beautiful and free municipal camp-site. This
morning I have 3 friends who come to join to me to do the last
remaining leg towards my house with me. This evening I will sleep in my
house and tomorrow a last leg from the house towards the Parliament
Hill with the CDS to officially give the cheque to the fund.

To view LCdr Marcotte's cross country journal online, visit:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Yellow-Ribbon Campaign for Military Families Comes Untied

Businessman Decides Against Giving Free Decals
Because City Hall Wants to Sell Them

From CBC

July 24, 2007

Calgary councillors have decided not to put "Support our Troops" decals on city vehicles after a contentious and emotional debate at city hall, prompting the businessman offering the yellow-ribbon stickers to withdraw his donation.

Sean Burnand, owner of Can West Label Inc., said Tuesday he is disappointed that a simple gesture could become a political issue.

"This was a simple offer that we made to the city thinking that the city has thousands of vehicles on streets. But we're going to find a way to get these ribbons out there to private citizens and to corporations, with or without council's help on this."

On Monday, council unanimously approved a plan by Mayor Dave Bronconnier to keep the stickers off city vehicles and instead sell them to the public to raise cash for military families.

"Why don't we take those decals and place them in city facilities, and people could go and take those decals and put a five- and 10-dollar donation, and raise another $50,000 to do something meaningful?" he said.

But by selling the decals, city hall is missing the point, said Burnand, whose staff volunteered time over the weekend to help him make the first run of 5,000 decals.

'This is just about saying thank you'

Ald. Ric McIvor argued that putting yellow-ribbon stickers on city cars and trucks is a simple way to show public support for Canada's military.

"This is not about supporting any or all of those missions or deployments. This is just about saying thank you," he said.

But the decals have become politicized, argued Ald. Helen Larocque, who said some city workers could equate them as a show of support for the war in Afghanistan.

What if employees choose not to drive the vehicles? she asked. She also wanted to know "whether we would be in a position to have to force them to do so or whether they would be able to declare human rights issues."

Thanks to the publicity from the city hall debate, Burnand said he has received offers of support and donations from the public, and is now working with the Calgary Military Family Resource Centre to ensure any money he collects goes directly to the troops and their families.

He is also donating the stickers he made for the city to the resource centre.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

What Progress is Being Made in Afghanistan?

Progress in Afghanistan: PRT

Thanks to Lisa, this information and further information can be found at: http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/kprt-eprk/progress_e.asp.

Afghanistan is making progress – unthinkable only a few years ago – which is a testament to the will and fortitude of the Afghan people, as well as the commitment and engagement of the international community. Because of our efforts, the Afghan people now vote, women and girls have rights, and children are going to school.

This progress has come at a price to Canada and the international community. Taliban and foreign insurgents have sought to undermine Afghan progress by indiscriminately attacking civilians, Afghan authorities and international forces.

Is Afghanistan Making Progress?

Afghanistan was a country whose infrastructure was almost completely destroyed by three decades of war and control by a repressive regime which denied women and young girls such basic rights as medical care and schooling. Five years after the fall of the Taliban, the progress in Afghanistan is remarkable by any standards.

The Afghan government has laid out a comprehensive plan for the country’s future called the Afghanistan National Development Strategy. The international community is supporting this initiative through the Afghanistan Compact, a five-year agreement between the Government of Afghanistan, the United Nations and the international community on three main pillars of Afghan need and focus: security, governance and rule of law/human rights. On November 29, 2006, the 192-member United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution pledging to implement the Afghanistan Compact – described by some as an international Marshall Plan for Afghanistan. Some sixty nations are supporting the development fund with $10 billion in contributions so far.

Progress since 2001

  • 4.6 million Refugees have returned to Afghanistan
  • 14,000 community district councils have been elected
  • Per capita income has doubled.
  • The Afghan economy has tripled
  • Two national elections have been held (Parliamentary and Presidential)
  • More than 10 million Afghans voted
  • 200,000 Afghans (90 percent women) have received Micro-finance business loans
  • 7.2 million Children vaccinated against polio; 4.3 million vaccinated against childhood diseases
  • 4 million women vaccinated against Tetanus
  • 77 percent of Afghans have access to medical facilities – compared to less than 10 percent in 2001.
  • 4,000 new medical facilities opened
  • Six million children (one third girls) now go to school compared to 700,000 (no girls) in 2001.
  • 363,000 teachers provided with teaching material
  • 8,000 km of new and refurbished roads have been completed
  • 2,500 villages have electricity for the first time
  • 8,000 construction projects have been completed; 14,000 more are underway.
  • 4,000 houses and shelters constructed for the needy
  • 130 Agriculture projects (benefiting 300,000 farmers) actioned
  • 60,000 soldiers disarmed and demobilized
  • 190,000 mines defused and removed
  • 8,100 new water points, 8,000 latrine blocks (benefiting 3 million people)
  • 1,700 water reservoirs built
  • Hygiene education to 3.4 million people
  • 13 million days of community employment
A BIG HUA to ALL soldiers assisting with better living conditions in Afghanistan. Your efforts and accomplishments are endless.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Charity Golf Tournament

Golf Tournament

Sunday, July 29, 2007
in Support of
Injured Canadian Soldiers
and the
Sapper Mike McTeague
Wounded Warriors Fund

Fox Glen Golf Club
$125 per golfer - Shotgun Start 2:00 pm
~1:00 pm Registration

~ 2:00 pm Shotgun Start
~ 7:00 pm Dinner (all you can eat chicken & ribs)
~ 8:00 pm Guest Speaker, Awards, Raffles


Hole sponsers will be acknowledged in the tournament programs and with signage on golf tees.
Financial, prize and auction item donors will be acknowledged in the program.
Unions, corporations and individuals are welcome to assist the tournament in raising money for the Sapper Mike McTeague Wounded Warriors Fund through sponsorship of, or donations to, the golf tournament.
There is a sponsorship level to suit your budget and every dollar raised will go to provide comfort to those brave soldiers who have sacrificed for our security.
Also available are Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze Sponsorships.
Please Contact:
Bruce Dickie (519) 254-8630
Tullio Diponti (519) 254-8630
Harry W. (519) 566-3536

Kim Kelly (519) 903-0318

DND: Air Force Expansion in Quebec

July 20, 2007
- The Honourable Gordon O'Connor, Minister of National Defence, today announced the formation of a new Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW) at Bagotville, Quebec. Home of the CF18.
This new formation will be able to rapidly deploy as a self-contained unit, providing air power and associated support wherever needed, across Canada or around the world.

"This expeditionary capability marks a new era for our Air Force. And it will also help ensure the long term life of CFB Bagotville, which has a long and proud tradition," said Minister O'Connor. "Today's announcement once again demonstrates this government's commitment to further strengthening Canadian Forces units located in Quebec, to make up for the previous government's years of neglect," he added.

"The promise that we are fulfilling today with this announcement about the military base at Bagotville is the fruit of hard work," said Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn. "I am very proud of the positive impact that the arrival of this wing will have throughout Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean."

This represents a fundamental change from the traditional static wing-based structure for the Air Force. The new AEW will be composed of a Command Element, an Operations Support Flight, and a Mission Support Flight. It will train together and deploy as a team, with aircraft and personnel tailored to the specific requirements of an operation.

"Many of our allies have re-structured their Air Forces in a similar fashion to this expeditionary concept," said Lieutenant-General Lucas. "If Canada's Air Force is to maximize its effectiveness for deployed operations in the security environment of the 21st Century, it must develop a robust expeditionary capability."

A fully staffed and properly supported expeditionary wing will require a total of up to 550 personnel with associated investments in infrastructure and equipment estimated at up to $300M.

B.E.S.T. Ride July 15th, 2007

Vrooooommmm....The B.E.S.T. motorcycle ride in Cambridge held July 15th was a great success. With an entry fee of $20, and extra donations, a total of $1500 was donated to Sapper Mike McTeague's Wounded Warrior Fund! A big HUA to all who donated and participated!
All the left over bbq items (pop, buns, hotdogs, burgers and water) were then donated to the Hespeler Legion. They in turn will be holding a fundraising bbq to support Legion activities.

"Bikers Everywhere Supporting our Troops"
Unsold patches are still available for $12 Canadian.
And Stickers are $2
Email Miss K. at : mistressk@rogers.com


To donate to Mike McTeague's Wounded Warrior Fund, click here:



The Yellow Ribbon

A symbol of my love
A symbol of my pride
I'll wear the yellow ribbon
Until you're back by my side

Wear your yellow ribbon to show support for all members of our
Armed Forces away from family & friends

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Response Regarding Support from Mississauga Councillor

To Soldiers currently serving overseas:
First - please know that I support your hard work, passion, efforts and commitment 100% as well as the majority of Canadians do... now..
Secondly... cover your eyes and skip to the next posting.
"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty."
~ Mahatma Gandi

To the remaining readers:
Well.. I hummed and hawed about posting this email that I received. After some thought, I decided to do so (at her request).

This is a response (one of many received by Military Parents and Soldiers) from Mississauga's Councillor Carolyn Parrish.
Should she be working for the people in an elected office in Canada?


Received on: July 18, 2007 10:29:25 AM
Received from: Carolyn Parrish,
Ward 6 Councillor, Mississauga, ON

Many people put their lives on the line
every day.
My dad, as a Toronto cop, did
so for 37 years.
He knew that when he
joined the force - as do
firemen, guys
who man oil rigs in the ocean
and many
other jobs people do every day.

They're all trained to be as safe
as possible,
as are our soldiers fighting
under normal circumstances.
Afghanistan is
not normal. Many of our soldiers
up not knowing the conditions under which

they'd be fighting. And Canada is not
under attack.
Politicians sent them there
for political reasons - reasons
I don't
agree with. To those who hove returned
fighting I say "thank God you're
home safely.
I'm sorry you had to endure
terrible hardships to make
some politicians
happy." I'm sorry, but we'll have to

agree to disagree on Afghanistan.
I hope you broadcast
this and my other
response to your network.

For me, the subject is now finished.


Ward 6 Councillor

.. and... This was her first response to
Supporting Our Troops:

Received on: July 13, 2007 2:09:08 PM
Received from: Carolyn Parrish
Ward 6 Councillor
Mississauga, ON

Dear Military Mom,

Thank you for your e-mail and for attaching several others.
Since they do not include e-mail addresses,
I would hope you'll forward this
response to them.

As a former member of the federal government, I'm well aware
of the various methods used by the highly-paid spin doctors
to garner support for a government position.
Today, polls show 67% of Canadians do not support our current
military involvement in Afghanistan. We have a long
tradition, starting with Lester B. Pearson, of Peacekeeping.
And the world recognizes this.
Ergo, a campaign to try to subtly blur support
for troops with support for our activities
in Afghanistan is being undertaken to win over more of
the 67% who are not on side.
The Dominion Institute recently conducted
a survey that shows how non-political Canadians are.
Only 58% know the first two lines of our national anthem
and 18% can't name the Prime Minister while only 38% can
name our four political parties. The spin doctors take
these statistics and launch simple campaigns to swing
public opinion in favour of Ottawa's projects.
Equating loyalty to our soldiers to patriotism is
their attempt to substitute loyalty to troops to
support for our battles in Afghanistan.

Of late, the Afghan political leaders have
criticized the U.S, Britain and Canada as overly
brutal and careless. In their zeal to attack the
Taliban, hundreds of innocent women and children
are being killed and orphaned by the N.A.T.O. troops.

Canada fought hard to keep the world free
of the tyranny of despots and villains like Hitler.
Over the last fifty years, our population has not
grown sufficiently and spending on the military
have not kept pace with true military powers such
as Britain and the U.S.A. Under former Prime
Minister Lester B. Pearson we carved a niche for
ourselves as the best Peacekeepers in the world.
Places like the Suez, Cyprus and Bosnia require
crack forces with U.N. or N.A.T.O. backing to
keep peace in the world's hot spots.
We have also perfected technologies for de-mining
countries such as Bosnia and Cambodia so fields
can once again be used to grow food rather than
rip arms and legs off. Of this we are all

In this week's Macleans Magazine there's an
excellent article by Andrew Potter entitled
"Support the troops but not the war? Sheer hypocrisy."
He asks, "does it make any sense to support the troops
and not the mission itself?" He concludes:

"There are only two intellectually and morally honest
ways of supporting the troops.
One is to put the full economic and political
power of the state behind the war effort in
order to achieve victory as quickly and with
as few casualties as possible. The other is to demand
that the government bring them home, now.
Every country relies on petty hypocrisies in
its political life, to minimize division and enable
competing factions to at least try to work
together. The 'support the troops' movement is one
of those: the anti-war faction pretends to support
the troops, and those who support the mission pretend to
believe it. Given the half measures that result,
it isn't clear that our soldiers should appreciate
the gesture."

I support our troops in their peacekeeping role,
in their assisting with national disasters like floods
and ice storms and in their efforts to de-mine
and improve countries previously destroyed by years of war.

I do not support sending our troops to Afghanistan
to bring western-style democracy to a country
whose people don't appear to want to move that far,
that fast.
I do not support sending our troops into Afghanistan to
relieve American forces so that they are free to send
more U.S. soldiers into Iraq where they're
causing civil war and chaos.

One father who recently lost a son wrote me:
"Everyone supports our troops and the ribbon has
far less to do with that than it does about
promoting a war in which people on both sides are
dying every day." "I recently lost my son so I
have some sense of what the families are
going through.Life is so precious and this conflict
is so needless."

As military parents, your positions are obviously
the only ones you can take.
Otherwise, how could you stand sending your daughters and
sons into harm's way so far away from home?
They are defending your right,and my right, to have
opposite opinions on this war and to express those
opinions openly.
I sincerely hope all your family members return safe
and sound.


Ward 6 Councillor

Previous Post

Helping Others

Kandahar Province, Afghanistan

Photo by: Cpl Dan Pop

A soldier from the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team (KPRT) stops during a dismounted patrol to hand out some candies to a child in Kandahar City.

Soldiers Grateful for Support

This story appeared in the Kitchener Record today (. A big HUA! to the Region of Waterloo (Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo) for all their support! As well a HUA to the military families (FOCSIA- Families of Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan) who worked effortlessly in achieving awareness in the Yellow Ribbon Campaign. A BIG thank you to Mayors and councillors, police officers, firefighters, emergency staff of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge who have recognized our soldiers, our sons, our daughters, our husbands, our wives - our families, our friends who are currently, have returned, and are preparing to deploy on their mission. - m.m.
(and hopefully our "fav" councillor will see this)

Yellow ribbons touch hearts of firefighters serving overseas
TheRecord.com photo

Kitchener Chief Fire Prevention Officer Tom Ruggle (right) and Kitchener native Ryan Filsinger (left), 23, pose beside a support the troop decal on a Kitchener fire vehicle. Ruggle, a captain with the Lorne Scots reserve regiment, will leave in two weeks for Afghanistan. Filsinger is training for deployment in 2008.

KITCHENER, Ontario (Jul 18, 2007)

Yellow ribbons are starting to make an appearance on emergency vehicles in Kitchener and Waterloo.

The ribbons, symbolizing support for Canadian soldiers overseas, were added to Waterloo's 15 fire trucks and support vehicles last week.

Yesterday, the Kitchener Fire Department affixed its first ribbon to one of 20 support vehicles.

The entire fleet won't be outfitted until a small kink is worked out. The ribbon magnets ordered by the city won't stick to the department's aluminum-sided trucks.

That problem has also delayed putting the decals on the region's aluminum-backed ambulances, though stickers ordered for those vehicles are expected to arrive before Aug. 1, said John Prno, director of Emergency Medical Services.

The Waterloo and Cambridge fire departments ordered the yellow stickers as well, a move Kitchener will follow, Chief Tim Beckett said.

The glitch didn't prevent the Kitchener department from holding a ceremony yesterday, where the first ribbon was stuck on a magnet-friendly vehicle.

Military families, politicians, soldiers and firefighters gathered at fire department headquarters on Strasburg Road to watch as Beckett placed a ribbon on a command vehicle.

"It means the world to me and puts a smile on my face knowing people care about this," said Ryan Filsinger, 23, a Kitchener native who is home on leave from his pre-deployment training out West.

Filsinger is a member of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Shilo, Man. He will leave for Afghanistan in February.

"It's just great to come home and see the yellow ribbons and know people are thinking of you," he said.

"I always tell people, 'You don't have to support the mission but support the guys who are leaving their families behind to serve the country.' "

Filsinger's father, Paul, is a member of Families of Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan, the local group that asked that decals and magnets be allowed on municipal vehicles.

The ribbons have sparked controversy locally and nationwide, with opponents arguing they imply support for the military mission in Afghanistan.

The family group has maintained the ribbons are a symbol of Canadians supporting Canadians serving abroad as well as their families at home and aren't politically motivated.

A number of the group's members were present yesterday as Paul Filsinger presented the fire department with several magnets and thanked the city and emergency services for their support.

"It really does mean a lot to the families," he said. "This is just another tangible way for the city to show their support."

Two members of the Kitchener Fire Department serve in the reserves -- one returned from Afghanistan earlier this year and another is set to start his tour in two weeks.

"It touches very close to the Kitchener Fire Department," Beckett said. "This is just a small token of what we can do to say thanks and safe return."

Tom Ruggle, Kitchener's chief fire prevention officer, is a reservist with the Lorne Scots and one of nearly 2,500 soldiers who will be deployed in coming weeks.

Ruggle is on military leave but returned to the fire station dressed in his sand-coloured fatigues to watch the ribbon ceremony.

The reserves are rooted in the community, he said, so it's nice to see community recognition of their efforts.

"It's nice to know when you leave, when you're over there and when you come back home, you've got something to come back to," he said.

More than 30 members of the Waterloo Region-based reserve units -- the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada and the 48 Field Engineer Squadron -- are preparing for a tour in Afghanistan in 2008.

Last week, Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge councils agreed to allow the yellow ribbons on all their vehicles. The region agreed to allow the ribbons on its ambulances.

The municipalities are waiting for the rest of the ribbons to arrive and they'll likely start showing up on vehicles next week.

The Kitchener Fire Department hopes to have its stickers in place by the beginning of the week, Beckett said.

Waterloo regional police have designed a yellow ribbon pin, which officers can wear on their uniforms to show support for the troops.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Master Corporal Colin Bason Laid to Rest


A Second World War Bren gun carrier transported Master Cpl. Colin Bason’s casket Tuesday, escorted by a sombre guard of honour for his funeral in Aldergrove. Below: Hundreds of mourners attended Bason’s funeral, where he was remembered for his bravery in serving his country

Tuesday, July 17 - 01:25:00 PM
ALDERGROVE, BC - It was a very solemn and sad occasion. It’s always a tragedy when a young person dies, and when that person is killed far away from home while trying to help people in a strife-torn country, while on duty with the Canadian military, that death is even more tragic.
Yet at the same time, there is something noble about the sacrifice made by so many members of the Canadian military, who are in Afghanistan because they sincerely believe in making that country safe for its citizens.
They are there because Canada is fulfilling its NATO commitments, because Canada wants to eradicate the terrorism that emanates from that region and because Canada wants to help ordinary citizens in one of the world’s poorest countries look forward to a better life.
These are all worthy causes. Soldiers take up these causes for a wide variety of reasons, but fundamentally most of them want to see the world become a better place, and feel that serving in the military is a way they can help make that happen.
By every account, Colin Bason loved being a soldier. By every account, he was very good at it. As a reservist, being selected to go to join the permanent members of the Canadian Forces on a battle front that has been the most difficult for our troops since the Korean War was a mark of the skill he brought to his craft.
While some over the centuries have called the death of a soldier in war “glorious,” that’s not a word that comes to mind. There is nothing glorious about dying, even in a worthy cause.
However, the spirit of service and sacrifice that all soldiers bring with them when they enter a war zone is something to be admired — because it is something that, deep down, very few of us are easily able to do.
Colin Bason died in Afghanistan while helping others, and while fighting to preserve a way of life that we find precious. That’s a sacrifice that we all should take note of, and be thankful for.

He was remembered as a kind, compassionate and dedicated soldier, who truly believed in the mission he was serving for Canada. Hundreds gathered at Sts. Joachim and Anne Roman Catholic Church in Aldergrove for the funeral service for Master Corporal Colin Bason, one of six Canadians killed earlier this month in Afghanistan.
It was standing room only at the church, where family, friends, classmates, and fellow servicemen from Canada and the U.S paid their final respects. There were also representatives from the RCMP and the fire department. One of his friends speaking at the service said Bason showed an interest in the military as a child, re-enacting battles from World Wars. While in Afghanistan, Bason asked his family to send candy, which he handed out to children in the war-torn country.
Master Corporal Colin Bason was born in Abbotsford and leaves behind a fiancee and 5 month old daughter. The 28 year old reservist with the Royal Westminster Regiment left for Afghanistan when his daughter was just 4 days old.
During the service, the priest supported the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, saying he believes in the military action just as Colin Bason did. Bason's fiancee says Colin thought he was doing his best for Canada and other citizens of the world.

To view or sign the guestbook for the family
of Master Corporal Colin Bason, click on the book:

Mother Says: Troops Need a Boost (while speaking at son's funeral)

God Bless Pte. Lane Watkins

Wanda Watkins, mother of
Pte. Lane Watkins rests her head
on her son Lee Watkins during
Pte. Watkins' funeral in
Clearwater, Man. Photo: Marcel Cretain


The mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan beseeched Canadians on the day of her son's funeral to support the troops in Afghanistan.

"They deserve your respect. In supporting them, you'll make our loss much easier to bear."

Shortly before an honour guard piped the flag-draped coffin of Pte. Lane Watkins to an open-air service in a field near his Manitoba hometown of Clearwater yesterday, his mother Wanda read a family statement:

The mother of a fallen Manitoba soldier pleaded yesterday for Canadians to support the country's military mission in Afghanistan so her son's death won't "be for nothing."

"We are very proud of the work he did there and we would like the Canadian people to listen to the soldiers who are actually doing the work. Please support them. They deserve your respect. And in supporting them, you will make our loss much easier to bear," she told reporters with her family at her side.

Watkins said her family was much like many others before her son joined the army two years ago -- they had had little contact with the military.

"But you become a whole lot more attentive when your child is being deployed. We've come to know many of Lane's instructors and military friends and they are the finest young men that you will ever meet," she said.


"Every Canadian should be extremely proud of our soldiers. They're well-trained and we can trust them."

She said her son was appalled by the poverty and plight of the children in Kandahar.

He used to share the goodies he was sent from home with local children, padre Capt. Darren Persaud told hundreds of mourners that were sitting in lawn chairs or huddled under a tent for the fallen soldier's funeral.

Watkins, who wanted to become a paratrooper, was a member of the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry based in Edmonton.

He died July 4 along with five comrades when a powerful roadside bomb exploded as they were returning from a mission near Kandahar.

The body of 20-year-old Pte. Lane Watkins was carried by soldier pallbearers Monday past the ball diamonds where he played throughout his life, while a crowd 10 times the size of the village's population stood in silence.

Walking behind his casket were his grieving parents, Wanda and Charles, his twin brother Leigh and his other brother Andrew.

Also present was Watkins' brother-in-arms, Pte. Dustin Zonnenburg, who accompanied his friend's remains from the base in Kandahar to the graveside just outside town.

The Watkins family had planned to hold a private funeral, but changed their minds after thousands of people gathered in southern Ontario last week to pay tribute to the bodies of six fallen soldiers as they arrived in Canada.

Reading from a statement, Wanda Watkins implored Canadians to support the Afghanistan mission, and not to let her son Lane's sacrifice be in vain.

She said Canadians need to listen to the stories of soldiers doing good work in the country.

"There is optimism and hope there," she said. "But if Canada and NATO abandon the Afghan people, the sacrifices Lane has made will be for nothing.

"Please support them."

The graveside service was private, as was the reception for mourners in the community hall.

But the wind carried faint whispers of the funeral service. Family friend Joyce McLeod eulogized Lane Watkins as "quite an adventurer," recalling the time he got to the top of the tallest tree on his family's property, not having considered how he would get down.

"Lane and his brothers, Leigh and Andrew, were like the legs in a tripod," always together, but each unique, she said.

Family friend Dave Guilford told reporters the entire community 200 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg practically shut down for the day on Monday. All 85 residents came to the funeral, along with hundreds more from nearby towns.

To view or sign the guest book for the family of Pte. Watkins, click here:


Mother of Fallen Soldier Asks for Support

Monday, July 16, 2007 - The mother of a Canadian soldier killed in southern Afghanistan is asking Canadians to "please" support soldiers serving in Kandahar. Wanda Watkins read a short statement to the media before her son's funeral in Clearwater, Manitoba on Monday. Private Lane Watkins and five other Canadian soldiers were killed July 4 in a roadside bomb explosion. Watkins said "we don't want any family to experience the terrible pain of losing their son or daughter, but if Canada and NATO abandon the Afghan people, the sacrifices of Lane, our family and others have made will be for nothing." Watkins added "they deserve your respect. In supporting them, you'll make our loss much easier to bear."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

God Bless Cpl. Cole Daniel Bartsch

Dennis and Juanita Bartsch comfort each
other as they follow the casket of their son,
Cpl. Cole Bartsch, at his funeral yesterday in
Whitecourt, 177 km northwest of Edmonton

In Whitecourt, more than 500 friends, family and military packed a church for the funeral of Cpl. Bartsch, 23.

The Pentecostal church was overflowing with mourners and dozens of people watched the funeral on closed-circuit TV in tents set up on the church grounds.

Cpl. Bartsch's parents issued a statement urging Canadians to support the mission to Afghanistan so that "our men and women don't die for no reason."

Dennis and Juanita Bartsch said their son told them that he understood the threat that Canada faces and the need for Canadian soldiers to be deployed in Afghanistan.

The statement said that one day Cpl. Cole Bartsch told his mom: "It's like this, where do you want us to fight them — over there or over here?"

Cpl. Cole Bartsch

BARTSCH, Corporal Cole Daniel On Wednesday, July 4, 2007, Corporal Cole Daniel Bartsch of Whitecourt, Alberta was killed in action while serving Canada in Kandahar, Afghanistan at the age of 23 years. Cole will be deeply mourned and always loved by his mom and dad, Juanita and Dennis; sisters, Tara Archambult and Joleen; brother, Eric, all of Whitecourt; niece, Cami and nephew, Xander; maternal grandparents, Richard and Cathy Stepp of Creston, BC and paternal grandfather, Jake Bartsch of Whitecourt; uncles, aunts, cousins, PPCLI comrades and friends. Predeceased by his paternal grandmother, Dorothy Bartsch. A Funeral Service with Full Military Honours to Celebrate Cole's Life will be held on Saturday, July 14 at 1:00 p.m. at the Whitecourt Family Worship Centre, Whitecourt. Padre Tracy Moore of the Canadian Armed Forces and Pastor Tara Fawcett of the Whitecourt Family Worship Centre officiating with interment in Whitecourt Cemetery. In lieu of other tributes, donations may be made to the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation, 4th Floor Aberhart Centre One, 11402 - University Avenue, Edmonton, AB T6G 2J3. To send condolences, visit www.parkmemorial.com Park Memorial Whitecourt 780-779-2533 Family Owned Funeral Home and Crematorium
To view or sign the guestbook for the family, simply click on the book.

Captain Matthew Dawe 1980 - 2007

Captain Matthew Dawe was remembered Saturday as a generous friend, a passionate family man and a dedicated soldier who died doing what he believed in.

Capt. Dawe was killed July 4, along with five other Canadian soldiers and an Afghan interpreter, when their armoured vehicle struck a roadside bomb near Kandahar City.

Funerals were also held Saturday for two of those soldiers — Corporal Jordan Anderson in Ottawa and Corporal Cole Bartsch in Whitecourt, Alta.

At CFB Kingston, Capt. Dawe's extended family, military supporters and members of the public gathered at a sports complex to honour the 27-year-old.

As the procession entered the complex, the crowd of more 2,000 fell silent as they watched the pallbearers carry Capt. Dawe's flag-draped casket to the altar.

Dawe's best friend Lieutenant Reggie McMichael, his three brothers, his parents and his wife were all invited to speak during the service.

Capt. Dawe's three older brothers — Philip, Peter and James, all members of the Canadian Armed Forces — remembered him as a man who shone in the face of adversity. But they admitted that even they were surprised at the outpouring of support they have received from the public since their brother's death.

"My brothers and I have one regret as far as our relationship with Matt is concerned," said Philip.

"It is the testimonials that we have read and heard over the past 10 days, and the fact that they've provided us with a glimpse of the man who our kid brother had become. We wish so badly that we could have spent more time with this terrific guy."

They added that the three of them will do whatever is needed to support Capt. Dawe's wife and son.

"We love our brother very much and we promised Tara that she'll never have to worry about tying a pair of skates or teaching Lucas how to throw a spiral," said Peter. "Lucas will always be a Dawe boy, just like his daddy would have liked it."

Capt. Dawe's father Peter, a retired lieutenant-colonel, remembered his son as a man who would "laugh as conditions got harder." He spoke about how Capt. Dawe was a severe asthmatic as a child, but he fought and was eventually able to overcome his condition, going on to become a celebrated volleyball player, hockey player and rower in school.

"He is often cited as being very approachable to all, very fit, an excellent student displaying the strongest military skills, and perfectly bilingual," said Capt. Dawe's father.

"Matt was the real deal."

Capt. Dawe's mother Reine said her son believed strongly in Canada's involvement in Afghanistan, and she pleaded with the troops present not to give up on their mission.

Her voice broke as she said goodbye to her youngest son.

"There was a recurrent, friendly competition among the boys to determine who Mom loved the most," she said. "Well, today, my darling Matt, but only for today, I will allow you to be the favourite son. Je t'aime, Matt."

Capt. Dawe's wife was the last to speak. Her message was short but emotional.

"I can stand here today and tell you I'm the luckiest person in the room," she said. "For some reason this incredible man chose me to share a life with him of love, passion and intimacy. All I want is to be able to thank him."

"At times the pain is so intense I have to be reminded to breathe. When Matt left he took a piece of me with him that I'll never get back. However, I have the greatest gift in the world," she added, motioning towards her son in the front row.

"This beautiful boy is mine and he is the key to my survival."

As if on cue, Lucas began to cry and had to be handed to his mother so she could comfort him.

The service closed with a single trumpeter playing Last Post as Capt. Dawe's casket was carried out of the building to begin its final procession to the cemetery.

Capt. Dawe was a member of the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based out of CFB Edmonton.

If you'd like to view or sign a guestbook for the family of Cpt Matthew Dawe, click here:

The following statement was released on behalf of the family of Captain Matthew Dawe:

Matt was a superb soldier. He was very fit and prided himself on leading from the front. He loved his soldiers very much and we know that this feeling was reciprocal.Despite a ruptured Achilles tendon in the months leading up to his deployment, Matt succeeded in his recovery quicker than expected “because he didn’t want his boys to go without him.”
He was an excellent family man, who dearly loved his wife Tara and two-year son Lucas. He was very close to his parents and brothers along with a large extended family. It is important to remember that Matt was one of six soldiers who lost their lives. Our hearts go out to the other families who may not have understood the dangers of this mission to the extent that we did.
The pain is incredible and the feeling of loss overwhelming but we will get through this for Tara, Lucas and our family.We are most grateful for the many kind words and the support offered by family, friends, and the military family, in particular the PPCLI Regiment.
We will miss Matt very much.