Sunday, July 15, 2007

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.

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