Tuesday, August 28, 2007
In my absence, let's keep the blog going by listing in the comments section, ideas for care packages and I will collaborate with a list I will be making and will post on my return. It will be a grand posting as I have received wonderful ideas from many readers in past to which I will publish as well. Sooo... let's get creative, help each other and get our ideas out.
Godspeed to our soldiers.
Monday, August 27, 2007
About 100 soldiers returned home Sunday night from their six-month tour in Afghanistan. They were greeted by friends and families at CFB Trenton. "We were all ecstatic" M. said.
A fellow military mom and friend of mine welcomed her son home. Anxiously awaiting his delayed arrival (approx hour delay) " ...but it's all good. What a long wait, but so worthwhile!"
Publication request from DND: "To show respect to the majority of the military personnel currently deployed in Afghanistan, who work in collaboration, but are not part of the Royal 22e Regiment, we want to specify this fact and have asked for media's cooperation regarding the diffusion of complete and fair information."
Below, I have listed information (Composition of this rotation's Battlegroup - JTF AFG) as attained from 5e Group-Brigade Mecanise du Canada (5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group)
Rotation 4, deployed in summer 2007, comprises nearly 2,500 CF members from all Army professions and the medical and legal branches of the Canadian Forces. The complexity of Canada’s commitment in Afghanistan requires that representatives from all CF occupations be involved. The in-depth knowledge that all CF members have of their respective fields contributes immensely to furthering the mission of the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan.
Although most of these men and women are from Valcartier, there are also many from other regions of Quebec, such as Outaouais, Rimouski, Trois Rivières, Montreal, Sherbrooke and the Saguenay, as well as from the rest of Canada (see list below).
Here is a list of the CF units participating in JTF AFG.
FROM QUEBEC (approximately 2,330 CF members)
Land Force Quebec Area – Joint Task Force (East)
· 4 Intelligence Company – Montreal
· Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) – Montreal
5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (Regular Force)
· 5e Régiment d’artillerie légère du Canada – Valcartier
· 12e Régiment blindé du Canada – Valcartier
· 5 Combat Engineer Regiment – Valcartier
· Headquarters and Signals Squadron – Valcartier· 1 Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment – Valcartier
· 2 Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment – Valcartier· 3 Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment – Valcartier
· 5 Field Ambulance – Valcartier
5 Area Support Group (Regular Force)
Web site: www.fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit%C3%A9_de_soutien_de_secteur_Valcartier (Non-Official)
· 5 Canadian Service Battalion – Valcartier
Transport and Movement Company
· Personnel Support Services – Valcartier, Montreal and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
· Signals Branch – Valcartier, Montreal and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
· Garrison Military Police Platoon – Valcartier
· Engineer Branch – Valcartier, Montreal and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
· Public Affairs – Valcartier
· Coopérative régionale de développement – Valcartier, Montreal and Saint Jean sur Richelieu
35 Canadian Brigade Group (Reserve Force)
· 12e Régiment blindé du Canada – Trois-Rivières
· 62 Field Artillery Regiment – Shawinigan
· 6 Field Artillery Regiment –Lévis
· 55 Canadian Service Battalion – Quebec City
· Fusiliers de Sherbrooke – Sherbrooke
· Fusiliers du Saint-Laurent – Rimouski, Matane, Rivière-du-Loup· Régiment de la Chaudière – Lévis, Beauceville, Lac-Mégantic
· Régiment du Saguenay – Chicoutimi
· Voltigeurs de Québec – Quebec City
· Sherbrooke Hussars – Sherbrooke
· 10 Field Engineer Squadron – Quebec City
34 Canadian Brigade Group (Reserve Force)
· Fusiliers du Mont-Royal – Montreal
· Régiment de Hull – Hull
· Régiment de Maisonneuve – Montreal
· 34 Field Engineer Regiment – Westmount
· 4 Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment – Laval
· 6 Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment – Saint-Hyacinthe
· 51 Service Battalion – Montreal
· 2 Field Artillery Regiment – Montreal
· 9 Field Engineer Squadron – Rouyn-Noranda
· Royal Montreal Regiment – Montreal
· Canadian Grenadier Guards – Montreal
· Royal Canadian Hussars – Montreal
· Royal Highland Regiment of Canada (Black Watch) – Montreal
Communication Reserve (Reserve Force)
· 712 Communication Squadron – Montreal
· 713 Communication Regiment – Beauport
· 714 Communication Squadron – Sherbrooke
FROM OTHER PROVINCES (approximately 170 CF members)
· 1 Service Battalion – Halifax
· 1 Combat Engineer Regiment – Edmonton
· 1 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery – Shilo
· 119 Air Defence Battery – Gagetown
· 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Headquarters and Signal Squadron – Petawawa
· 2 Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry – Edmonton
· 2 Service Battalion – Petawawa· 210 Work Shop, Air Defence Artillery School – Gagetown
· 26 Service Battalion – North Bay
· 30 Military Police Company – Shearwater
· 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s) – Gagetown
· The British Columbia Dragoons – Kelowna
· The King’s Own Calgary Regiment – Calgary
· The Ontario Regiment – Brampton
Communication Reserve (Reserve Force)
· 705 Communication Squadron – Hamilton
· 709 Communication Regiment – Toronto
· 734 Communication Squadron – Regina
· 749 Communication Squadron – Red Deer
· 772 Electronic Warfare Squadron – Kingston
COMPOSITION OF JTF AFG IN BRIEF
Reg Force and Reserve Force (2,500):
· 2,200 Regular Force members
· 300 Reserve Force members (12%)
· 2,330 CF members from Quebec
· 170 CF members from other provinces (7%)
A procession of limousines arrive at the funeral service
for Pte. Simon Longtin in Longueul, Que. On Aug. 27, 2007.
More than 800 people, including a strong contingent of war veterans crowded inside St. Antoine de Padoue cathedral today in Longueuil, Que. to attend the military funeral of Pte. Simon Longtin. About another 200 mourners lined the streets outside the church in this city, just south of Montreal, to pay their respect to Longtin as his courtege wound its way to and from the church.
Pte. Simon Longtin was remembered as a high-spirited, sociable soldier who put his heart into everything he did. Rev. Yves Lepain, one of the priests leading the service, said the funeral was meant to "honour his effort and his sacrifice" but also to give comfort to his family and friends.
An honour guard carried his coffin, with a large Canadian flag draped over it. Bells that were ringing stopped as his coffin was carried up the steps of the church in silence. Soldiers and veterans -- also in uniform -- lined the steps.
Federal Public Works Minister Michael Fortier and Jean-Marc Fournier, Quebec's minister of revenue, were among the dignitaries attending the funeral.
Longtin, 23, died Aug. 19 when his light armoured vehicle hit a roadside bomb.
He was the first member of Quebec's Royal 22nd Regiment to be killed in the Afghan mission.
Our love and prayers are with you Pte Longtin and your family and friends.
Photo Credit:AJ Groen/Metroland
People applaud as the military motorcade bearing the bodies of
Master Corporal Christian Duchesne and Master Warrant Officer Mario Mercier passes the Brock Street bridge in Whitby.
About 500 people lined the bridge and the 401 to honor the soldiers who
died in Afghanistan.
Hundreds of residents, many carrying flags, paid their respects Sunday evening to two soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The remains of the two Canadian soldiers, Master Warrant Officer Mario Mercier and Master Corporal Christian Duchesne, were transported to Toronto Sunday along Hwy. 401. Bridges across the highway in Northumberland County and Durham were packed with residents paying their respects. The Provincial government has said it will move to have the section of highway from Trenton to Toronto renamed as the Highway of Heroes.
Family members of Master Cpl. Christian Duchesne, 34, stand by his hearse at CFB Trenton, Ont., yesterday. Photo Credit: Canadian Press
Master Warrant Officer Mercier, 43, of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment – known as the Van Doos – and Master Corporal Duchesne, 34, of the 5th Field Ambulance died Wednesday when their vehicle was hit by what appeared to have been a roadside bomb.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
"My first thought was that something terrible had happened to Johnny," the emotional father said last night.
The soldiers arrived at the Xaysy home at about 2:30 a.m. yesterday to tell Kasem and his wife, Chintana, that their oldest son, Master Cpl. John Xaysy, had been killed in a motorcycle crash in Alberta.
The 26-year-old was a member of the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Cambridge and had been based at CFB Wainwright in Alberta since January 2006.
Xaysy's family said it was their understanding he was travelling home after work Thursday when he lost control of his motorcycle around 7 p.m.
Cpl. Robert Anderson, 22, of St. Catharines was injured in the crash but later released from hospital.
Xaysy, who was born and raised in Waterloo, was due to arrive home in just one week to attend his sister Soussamay's wedding.
His parents settled in Waterloo in 1980 after fleeing civil war in their native Laos. In keeping with Laotian tradition, his family gathered at Xaysy's childhood home last night to remember the soldier his cousins describe as "a big teddy bear" at heart.
"We're devastated," said his cousin Julia Sukhaseum.
She said Xaysy always dreamed of becoming a soldier and, at 16, joined the 21st Royal Army Cadets in Cambridge. At 18, he joined the Canadian Forces and later served six months in Bosnia.
Sukhaseum said Xaysy's family knew his work could take him to dangerous places but they are struggling to come to terms with his death.
"If it was a car bomb, we would have expected it," said his cousin, Hongvichith Xaysy. "We were prepared to accept that kind of death."
In Wainwright, Xaysy was a member of a team that portrayed Afghans in exercises to train Canadian troops.
"He said he was playing the chief of a Kandahar tribe," his cousin Soutsadada Vongsaly. "That meant a lot to him. He wasn't going overseas but he was contributing."
In a corner of the family's living room, there is a traditional shrine to John Xaysy, including a candle that will stay lit until he is buried next weekend in Waterloo.
Behind the candle, Xaysy's beaming face looks out from his Bluevale Collegiate graduation photo. Football trophies surrounding the photo pay tribute to his love for the sport, which he played for Bluevale.
An open can of iced tea, some fruit and traditional Laotian food are also part of the shrine.
"We believe in feeding the dead," Vongsaly said. "And Johnny loved to eat," she added with a smile.
Xaysy's younger brother, Jamie, 20, had recently moved to Wainwright, where he does construction work.
"He just wanted to be with his brother," Vongsaly said. "He really looked up to him."
The family still doesn't have many details about the crash. The RCMP are investigating. Xaysy purchased the motorcycle about five months ago.
For Xaysy's father, the details of his son's death aren't important right now.
"I don't want to know much about (the crash)," he said. "I just want my son home."
email@example.com The Record
In attendance will be: The Patriot Guard Riders Canada and the Canadian Army Veterans Motorcycle Units (a diverse amalgamation of riders from across the nation with an unwavering respect for those who risk their very lives for freedom and security. They attend the funeral services of fallen heroes as invited guests of the family. Each mission they undertake has two basic objectives: show sincere respect for our fallen heroes, their families, and their communities and Shield the mourning family and their friends from interruptions)
JOHNNY XAYSY 23 December 1981 - 23 August 2007 Johnny passed away tragically, as a result of a motor vehicle accident, in Wainwright, AB, on Thursday, August 23, 2007, at the age of 25. He is survived by his loving parents Chintana and Kasem, sister Soussamay, brother Jamie and a very large extended family. Johnny was born and raised in Waterloo. He attended Bluevale Collegiate, was an active member of the football team and a very popular individual. He joined the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada (RHFC) in January 1999 and completed a number of military courses. From April to September 2001, he completed a tour on International Peacekeeping Operations within Bosnia Herzegovina. He was promoted to Master Corporal in August 2005 and was serving with the Canadian Maneuver Training Centre in Wainwright, AB when he passed away. He was an avid outdoorsman, who enjoyed fishing, hunting, nature and the environment. Friends are invited to share their memories of Johnny with his family during visitation at the Erb & Good Family Funeral Home , 171 King Street South, Waterloo, on Thursday, August 30, 2007 and Friday, August 31 from 7-9 p.m. with Parish Prayers held at 8:45 p.m., Friday. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Louis RC Church, 53 Allen Street E., Waterloo on Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 10:00 a.m. with the Rev. Ray Reitzel, CR., Celebrant. Interment and military graveside service will follow at Parkview Cemetery, Waterloo. Johnny was a highly respected member of the RHFC and will be missed by family and friends.
If you would like to leave a tribute, comments,pictures or videos of MCpl John Xaysy (Johnny X) you can visit: http://www.respectance.com/
A procession makes its way Saturday to the gravesite of Master Cpl. Johnny Xaysy, who was killed in a motorcycle crash on Aug. 23.
The funeral for Master Cpl. Johnny Xaysy filled St. Louis Roman Catholic Church with about 600 mourners, more than half of them from the military.
Nine soldiers came from Wainwright, Alta., where Xaysy died Aug. 23 in a motorcycle crash.
Xaysy, 25, was stationed in Wainwright with the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada. He joined the service in 1999 and in 2001 completed a tour in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
At his funeral, Xaysy was remembered as a respected soldier, a doting brother and a favourite uncle.
Cpl. Brandon Bartok of CFB Petawawa described him as one of his closest friends.
"It didn't matter the situation," Bartok said. "Johnny had your back.
"He never hesitated to put his life on the line."
A tribute to Xaysy was also read in Laotian, the native language of Xaysy's parents, Chintana and Kasem.
Rev. Ray Reitzel remembered Xaysy and his brother Jamie as altar servers at mass.
"In Grade 7 and 8, when it's not cool to serve anymore, Jamie and John stuck it out,'' he said.
Although Xaysy was a big man, the minister said, he was "meek and humble and ready to be of assistance to others.''
Reitzel joked about Xaysy's physical stature, referring to his days playing football for Bluevale Collegiate Institute. "I feel sorry for whoever came across John on the Bluevale football team,'' he said.
Members of the Canadian Army Veteran Motorcycle Units, based in Kingston, stood outside when mourners filed into the church and left the service.
At Parkview Cemetery in Waterloo, soldiers holding guns lined the procession route while eight soldiers carried the casket draped with the Canadian flag.
Attached to the flag were Xaysy's bayonet and headdress.
Const. Jeff VongKhamphou of the Waterloo regional police, who is a friend of the family, carried Xaysy's medals in the procession.
Xaysy had two medals -- one for serving in Bosnia and another for peacekeeping.
At graveside, a three-gun salute was fired and a bagpiper played a lament.
The the Canadian flag was folded and commanding officer Lt.-Col. Rick Peters presented the flag, the headdress, the bayonet and Xaysy's medals to his mother.
Chintana, who was supported by her daughter, Soussamay, cried and held her son's belongings to her chest.
The red poppy is an international rememberance of all fallen soldiers. It is worn proudly to remember those who have gone before me. Lest we forget, lest we forget.
Flag-draped caskets holding the remains of two Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan were carried across the tarmac of Kandahar Airfield Friday, as about 1,000 mourners stood at attention.
The ramp ceremony was held at dawn, honouring Master Warrant Officer Mario Mercier, a member of 2nd Bataillon, Royal 22nd Regiment and Master Cpl. Christian Duchesne, of the 5th Field Ambulance.
Both were killed Wednesday, along with an Afghan interpreter, when a roadside bomb struck their LAV-III armoured vehicle in southern Afghanistan.
"It's a scene that is difficult to imagine. People were not panicking but it was so serious, we didn't know if other mines would be there," said Radio Canada reporter Patrice Roy, 44.
Roy was in the same vehicle when the blast ripped it apart. He escaped serious injures but his cameraman, Charles Dubois, had to have the lower part of his right leg removed.
"He's an exceptionally good person, a strong person," said Roy, still visibly shaken by the violence.
The deaths of Mercier and Duchesne followed the first major combat operation in Zhari district -- about 50 kilometres west of Kandahar city -- conducted by Bravo Company of the 3rd Battalion, part of the Quebec-based Royal 22nd Regiment popularly known as the Van Doos.
No Canadians were injured in the actual combat and soldiers took control of a strategic hill.
Canadian troops then discovered a massive IED that created a 20-metre-high fireball when detonated. Another undiscovered IED caused the deaths.
"I was writing my standup just seconds before the blast and it was a huge, huge blast... I was pushed," said Roy.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Canada's top soldier told cheering marchers in Toronto on Friday that their support for the military encourages Canadian soldiers who are enduring difficult and dangerous conditions in Afghanistan.
Gen. Rick Hillier was speaking at a massive rally at the Canadian National Exhibition fairgrounds, where hundreds of people turned out in red shirts to show support for the soldiers stationed overseas.
"What [this rally] does is convince them that when you're 12,000 kilometres away from home, and when you're on a dusty, and dirty and dangerous trail, and when you're walking that trail doing your mission, Canadians are walking with them," said Hillier, chief of defence staff.
"And as a result of this, maybe, just maybe, they'll do the same thing and accept the same risk again tomorrow and for as long as we need them to do the mission."
Hillier, who stood before the crowd with three wounded soldiers at his side, said the men and women serving in Afghanistan are aware of the rally and will be sent video images and pictures.
Photo Credit: Peter J. Thompson
Sharing a stage with the minister of defence, the head of the Canadian Forces and Don Cherry, wounded soldier Jody Mitic looked out to a boisterous crowd of people gathered for a Toronto rally in support of troops in Afghanistan and noted how times have changed.
"When (I) first joined in the mid-nineties, military and army were bad words," the 30-year-old master corporal from Brampton, who stepped on a land mine in the Panjwai district and now wears artificial legs, said later. "But now, everyone is supporting us. Makes it worth it, losing my legs and all."
The military estimated that 4,000 people attended the Red Friday Rally, held in the Canadian Forces display, at the Canadian National Exhibition Friday, which included addresses from Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier and Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who said "we are doing this mission because Canadians care."
Some speakers alluded to the debate that surrounds the mission, which began in 2002.
"It is not my job, nor my responsibility, to articulate why we do certain missions but let me just tell you, as soldiers, we have to believe that there's a nugget of a mission before we will go out and do it," said Hillier. "Before we go on a mission where we risk life and limb, as our soldiers do every single day, we have to believe in the mission."
Hockey personality Don Cherry, who wore a red jacket, acknowledged that not everyone agrees with the war, "but when our troops are over there, we have to support them," he said.
The Red Friday campaign started in April 2006 to show support for the Canadian Forces. It encourages Canadians to wear a red article of clothing on Fridays to represent the blood that has been shed by soldiers. Since then, dozens of rallies have been held across the country.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay talked about the difference the Canadian military is already making in Afghanistan; boys and girls are able to go to school, women can work, he said.
"The rally today means so much to our troops, it means so much to the men and women who are working hard to protect us, to safeguard our freedoms and the lives of the people in Afghanistan and those who want to live in an open and free country like ours," he said.
MacKay then asked the crowd to cheer for the troops and pose for a photo that would be transmitted to Afghanistan. The crowd responded enthusiastically
When: Sunday, August 26, 4:00 p.m.
It’s official! The stretch of Highway 401 between Trenton and Toronto will now be known as the Highway of Heroes in honour of Canada’s fallen soldiers. "We’re going to do it," exclaimed Minister of Transportation Donna Cansfield speaking with the Cobourg Daily Star Friday. Ms.
Cansfield was at a caucus retreat spoke shortly after the Premier held a media scrum to announce the decision. "The Premier wants this done, and done right away," Ms. Cansfield said. "I think it’s wonderful. "Every time you go down the highway and a child asks about the sign — they learn. It’s a living legacy." CTV has said the highway will not lose it’s official designation as the MacDonald-Cartier Freeway, but signs designating the route as the Highway of Heroes will be erected along the route from Trenton to Toronto. Ms. Cansfield said everyone at the government retreat said positive things about the name designation. Members of the provincial government will now be consulting with members from two Legions group to work on the proper signage for the highway. It’s expected the unveiling of the signs will take place at C.F.B. Trenton.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
McGuinty said he'll listen to recommendations that Highway 401 be renamed the "Highway of Heroes."
The highway's overpasses have become the scene of impromptu gatherings in recent months, as people wave flags while motorcades pass by bearing the remains of soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
An online petition has been started asking the province's Transportation Ministry to make the name change.
The online petition can found here: http://www.petitiononline.com/401Hero/petition.html
(thank you to an annonymous reader for submitting the website)
Highway of Heroes: Let’s Make it Official
By Pete Fisher
What began quietly, spontaneously in Northumberland County has now extended along the 172 kilometres, or 107 miles, of Highway 401 travelled by repatriated Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. People standing on bridges has become a powerful expression of support by fellow Canadians for the troops and their families.
We all pray there will be no need to come together again on a bridge to honour our fallen but, with the war in Afghanistan continuing, it’s naive to think there won’t be more casualties. Starting from the first procession for Sgt. Marc D. Leger, Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, Pte. Richard Green, and Pte. Nathan Smith, who were killed in April, 2002, people have stood on bridges in Northumberland County. I remember in 2002 there were approximately 30 people, including two police officers, saluting on the Cranberry Road overpass in Port Hope as four hearses passed underneath. People had been watching the live coverage of the repatriation service at CFB Trenton on television and saw the hearses leave the base. Wanting to show their support, they spontaneously went to the bridge to await the procession. Once a funeral procession leaves CFB Trenton, it heads west along Highway 401 to Toronto, then goes south on the Don Valley Parkway, ending at the Centre for Forensic Sciences on Grenville Street. To date, 66 fallen heroes have made the journey. (As of Aug. 23, the number is now 69 fatalties). Since then, on various bridges along the Highway 401 route, there have been people on bridges, sometimes less and, of late, more — many more. Every person who stands on a bridge will tell you it’s a feeling like no other. As you wait, you talk with people who have been there before, who you’ve come to know. People smile, share feelings, talk about how many times they’ve stood on various bridges. It’s a mix of pride and sadness. When the convoy of vehicles is seen approaching, murmurs in the crowd can be heard: “Here they come.” There’s silence as people get ready. Then, there’s a sudden sea of arms waving Canadian flags, wanting to let family members in the procession know we are there for them, that we share their pain and are proud to be Canadian. It’s not unusual to see a soldier’s hand waving a beret from a hearse, or a family member waving from a limousine, to acknowledge the people on the bridge. Those waves are simple gestures, but more than enough for everyone on a bridge to know in that split second that everyone has made a connection to the people in those vehicles. Five years after the first procession went through Northumberland County, hundreds of people — farmers, business people, firefighters, paramedics, police officers, Legion members,kids — pay tribute to the husbands, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters who have given their lives for their country. People have lined bridges on cold winter evenings, rainy nights and evenings when the sun is setting. People have stood for hours waiting on the bridges with their flags, with their homemade signs, some with red Support The Troops shirts. Everyone by now knows someone, or someone with a relation, who has been or is in Afghanistan. Canadians are not trying to conquer a country. They are trying to help the people of Afghanistan. Talking to soldiers, they say we are there for the right reasons. Soldiers give first-hand accounts of the good Canada is doing. And, out of tragic times come good things. In the June 25, 2007 Toronto Sun, columnist Joe Warmington described people standing on Highway 401 bridges from Trenton to Toronto as a “Highway of Heroes” phenomena. Since then, the title has taken on a life of its own. On July 10, I received an e-mail from Cramahe Township volunteer firefighter Ken Awender. Like so many, he said how beautiful it is that scores of people come out to pay tribute. Then he said something that was so simple, I wondered why it hadn’t been thought of before. He suggested a petition should be started to rename the stretch of Highway 401 from Trenton to Toronto as “The Highway of Heroes.” He’s right. The section of highway is 172 kilometres/107 miles long. Already unofficially known as the Highway of Heroes, it’s time we find a way to make it official. It would be a fitting tribute to all the people who stand on the bridges, for all the families who have lost loved ones. Most of all, it will honour our soldiers who die so others can live a better life.
Message from Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada, on the Deaths of Two Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan
"Today has been a very sombre day. With heavy hearts, we greeted the arrival of Private Simon Longtin's casket and mourned his loss with his family and friends. And then we received more tragic news right there on the tarmac at CFB Trenton: we learned of the deaths of two Canadian soldiers as well as the death of an Afghan interpreter who was traveling with a Canadian television crew. The deadly explosive device they ran over also injured two other Canadian soldiers as well as a Societe Radio-Canada journalist and a cameraman.The enormous sacrifice our soldiers have agreed to make always shocks me. They are ready to lay down their lives and face incredible dangers to ensure the peace and security that are absolutely essential to the development and reconstruction work being carried out in Afghanistan. They deserve our utmost respect and deepest gratitude. I would also like to recognize the demanding and courageous work of the journalists on the ground in Afghanistan; they have the very important mission of keeping everyone in Canada informed as to what is happening over there.My thoughts are with the family, colleagues and friends of the victims. Words cannot express the terrible pain of losing a loved one and I share their sorrow. I also hope that those injured in today's incident make a speedy recovery."Michaelle Jean
An Honor Guard carries the casket of Private Simon Longtin
to hearse at the Canadian Forces Base Trenton, August 22, 2007.
Pte. Simon Longtin's father Maurice Longtin (centre) and his son Pte. Benoit Longtin (right) make their way to the hearse with Manon Daoust after Pte. Simon Longtin's casket arried in Canada during a repatriation ceremony Wednesday. Photo Credit: Adrian Wyld
TRENTON, Ont. – Benoit Longtin wasn't standing with his grief-stricken family when the remains of his brother, slain Quebec soldier Pte. Simon Longtin, arrived from Afghanistan today.
Instead, he was among the eight uniformed men who carefully hoisted the flag-draped casket on their shoulders and carried it towards a waiting hearse. Their parents, Simon’s girlfriend and about seven other family members, each carrying a single rose, met the plane. Some of the other family wept quietly as a trumpeter played Amazing Grace while his flag-draped coffin was carried from the Hercules 130 transport plane to the hearse. While the other soldiers faces largely remained stoic, Benoit’s lips quivered and tears streamed down his cheeks as he carried the coffin to the black hearse. As the mourners approached the car, a visibly upset Benoit – who recently completed basic training – joined his father at the head of the group, gripping his hand tightly as the tears were finally allowed to fall.
Some of Canada's top civilian and military leaders joined Longtin's family and loved ones to receive the remains of the young soldier, whose death was the first in Afghanistan for his Quebec-based regiment – a province where support is low for the Canadian mission.
Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean, Defence Minister Peter MacKay, Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier and former chief of defence staff retired general Maurice Baril, were among the many dignitaries who stood alongside Longtin's family as the body of the 23-year-old member of the Royal 22nd Regiment – known as the Van Doos – arrived at this eastern Ontario military base.
At one point during the repatriation ceremony, Jean put her arm around one of the mourners, offering some comfort as the woman, clad in black, wiped away tears.
The group, which included Longtin's father, Maurice Longtin, his mother, Johanne Larente, and his girlfriend, Debbie Duclos-Bedard, watched tearfully as the casket was carried across the wind-swept tarmac.
Pallbearers stepping slowly to the mournful notes of Amazing Grace. Longtin's stepmother, Manon Daoust, as well as his aunt, uncle and several cousins were also in attendance.
Family members carrying red or white roses gently laid the blooms on top of the casket, some wiping away tears before walking away. His head bent forward and arm outstretched towards his dead son, Maurice Longtin said his silent goodbyes then backed away slowly, sorrow etched across his face.
Longtin, from Longueil, Que., died Sunday after his light-armoured vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. More than 1,000 soldiers from 37 countries paid tribute to Longtin at a ramp ceremony in Kandahar Airfield on Monday.
On Wednesday, dozens of Canadian soldiers, who military officials said were bound for CFB Gagetown and travelled on the same military aircraft that carried Longtin's remains, poured out of the plane and stood in formation as the casket was lowered to the ground.
Dozens more onlookers, including a number of bikers, gathered outside the razor-wire fence, carrying flags and standing in solemn tribute to the fallen soldier.
In a recent statement, they echoed the comments of Longtin's fellow Van Doos, painting a picture a soldier who embraced military life and his mission in Afghanistan.
On a personal note: My son was one of the honour guards in Trenton on this day. An true honour bestowed upon him -bringing home a fallen comrade.
The identity of one of the two Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan today is as follows:- Master Corporal Christian Duchesne, 5e Ambulance de campagne, based out of Valcartier, Quebec.Family members of the soldiers have been notified. At their request, the name of the remaining soldier is being temporarily withheld.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Charles Dubois, a 29-year-old cameraman with time served previously in Afghanistan and Iraq, knew the terrain well. He suffered a serious leg injury and was in stable condition at the Kandahar military hospital on Wednesday.
His colleague, Patrice Roy, 44, a senior reporter, was treated for shock.
The armoured vehicle they were travelling in was hit with an improvised explosive device.
Dubois and Roy were just two-weeks into a six-week stint in Afghanistan, where they were covering the Valcartier, Que., based Royal 22nd Regiment as they take over Canadian military operations in Afghanistan.
Both Dubois and Roy, who are based in Ottawa for the network, volunteered for the assignment, and were well-trained, said Sylvain Lafrance, the French-language network's vice-president.
Lafrance said the network was inundated with calls from journalists as rumours swirled about the two injured journalists.
"Today the emotion was very palpable in all Radio-Canada newsrooms across the country, particularly in Montreal and Ottawa," Lafrance said.
Reporters who have covered Afghanistan say there have been numerous close calls as journalists have travelled in convoys hit by bombs, rocket attacks or with troops as they come under enemy fire.
Former Toronto Star journalist Kathleen Kenna was seriously injured in Afghanistan in March 2002 when the car she was riding in with her husband and photographer Bernard Weil was hit by a grenade.
Despite the risks involved, journalists have an important role to play in Afghanistan, Lafrance said.
"It's the role of the CBC (English and French) to cover those international conflicts, especially when Canada is a part of the conflict," Lafrance said.
"So it's our role to be there and we will continue to be there."
Roy was providing reports to Radio-Canada for its website, television, radio and a blog. Lafrance says Roy will decide in the next day or so whether he will stay in Afghanistan on assignment.
Radio-Canada is also trying to determine whether to send popular anchorman Bernard Derome to Afghanistan on Thursday, where he is scheduled to broadcast live in September.
"We'll talk about it as a team and come to a decision," said Alain Saulnier, general manager of information at Radio-Canada.
"We tell people if ever they have doubts or they want to pull out at the last minute, we'll respect that decision. We'll take the same approach this time."
Saulnier says the decision to embed troops with soldiers is made on a case-by-case basis and Lafrance added its possible the network will change its approach to reporting in Afghanistan.
"We took a decision at one point to no longer send teams to Iraq when we had people there at the beginning of the war," said Lafrance. "In each case, we take that decision with an understanding of the situation and we'll re-evaluate when necessary."
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Repatriation expected around 11 a.m. Wednesday. Aug. 22
As most Canadians know by now, 66 of our troops have been killed fighting in Afghanistan. As most Canadians know by now, our fallen soldiers are returned to the base in Trenton where families and dignitaries gather – about a two-hour drive east of Whitby.
The remains of these brave soldiers, along with their families, are then escorted in solemn procession to Toronto via Highway 401. Many crowds, firefighters and police officers have since been gathering on the overpasses along the route, with flags and signs to pay their respects. What a moving experience. This is an opportunity for fellow Canadians to pay their respects to our fallen soldier and family on our Highway of Heroes. God Bless.
According to Northumberland Today, CFB Trenton 8 Wing is saying the flight carrying fallen Canadian soldier Simon Longtin is expected to land at CFB trenton around 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21. If the flight arrives on time, a repatriation ceremony will take place immediately after landing.
The funeral procession is then expected to leave the base for the Highway 401 journey west to Toronto around noon Wednesday.
Private Longtin , 23, of the Royal 22nd Regiment — the Van Doos — was killed in southern Afghanistan Sunday morning when the light armoured vehicle (LAV) in which he was riding was hit by a roadside bomb. Private Longtin is the 67th Canadian armed forces casulaty since the Canadian mission in Afghanistan began in 2002.
A note from Tim McGrath (father of the wife of Cpl. Jordan Anderson, who was one of the six killed in Afghanistan on July 4, 2007.):
"Our family was in one of those limousines in the motorcade. I would like to say thank you to each and every person on every bridge. As the motorcade pulled out of CFB Trenton and made its way towards Hwy 401, the driver of the limousine said "Watch the overheads." We had no idea! It was comforting, and everyone in the limo was truly impressed. The army Padre riding with the family said " Look, all these people are out here for Jordan, to say Thank You, because to them, he is a hero." That trip down Hwy. 401 was one of the most moving moments. It made us realize that "our heroes" were also heroes to everyday Canadians. We saw children waving flags, we saw old ladies with their hand over their hearts, we saw veterans standing in salute, we saw moms and dads with their children. Some bridges were so full, people were lining up on the ramps on both sides of the highway. We saw the firetrucks on every bridge with firefighters standing in salute, we saw the ambulances, we saw the police cruisers. Close to 50 bridges, a worthy tribute to our heroes! One of the drivers in the limousine took a video as we passed under the overhead bridges, as everyday Canadians took a moment and paid tribute to our Afghanistan heroes. The funeral director gave us a copy of the video. We made sure that the soldier who accompanied our fallen soldiers home, could get a copy to bring back to Afghanistan and show it to the other soldiers. Again, I want to say thank you to each and every person who comes out and supports our soldiers. The families of the soldiers truly appreciate the outpouring of emotion, knowing they have lost a cherished member of the family, but that everyday Canadians appreciate that the soldiers gave the ultimate sacrifice. We hold our head up proudly, just now our eyes are filled with tears."
Tim McGrath / Nanaimo, B.C.
They stood at attention as the young soldier's casket was lifted aboard a Hercules transport plane, which will arrive in Canada by Tuesday.
Twenty-three-year-old Longtin, of Longueuil, Que., died Sunday when his light armoured vehicle struck a roadside bomb.
About 1,100 members of the Van Doos -- the popular name for Quebec's Royal 22nd Regiment -- are currently serving in Afghanistan.
"Everybody's morale is low but at the same time, like we say, it's motivating us (to continue)," Jean-Philippe Auclair of 3rd Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment told The Canadian Press.
"For sure, we're never going to forget him and he will always be with us."
Support for the Afghanistan mission is lower in Quebec than any other province, according to recent polls.
Peter MacKay, newly appointed as Canada's minister of defence, spoke to soldiers Monday in Valcartier where the Van Doos are based.
He said Canadians are fighting to make Afghanistan a peaceful place, as the military has done for other war-torn countries around the world.
"Know that this mission is no less important, no less valid and takes no less valour," he said.
Friends of Longtin told CTV Montreal that he believed in the mission and remained optimistic that NATO would achieve its goals in Afghanistan -- a sentiment echoed by Auclair.
"I still believe in the mission and it's motivating me even more to keep going. Simon was aware of the risks, he knew what he was doing and I'm sure he wouldn't regret anything," he said.
Auclair added he wants Quebecers "to be better informed" about Canada's objectives in the country before passing judgment.
Another Van Doos member and friend of Longtin, Scott Bernier, told CTV News that Canadian soldiers will continue to fight for stability in Afghanistan.
"We are here to do a job. And even if Simon's not here, we will continue to do it for him," he said.
Quebec-based military personnel currently make up almost half of Canada's 2,300 troops in Afghanistan.
Auclair is travelling aboard the Hercules transport plane with his friend's casket, and will attend Longtin's funeral.
He said it will be difficult for him to meet with Longtin's family and friends -- especially the slain soldier's girlfriend.
"That's going to be hard. Those two were so much in love," he said
Col. Juneau said the death will hit the Van Doos hard."It's like losing almost a brother. We're like a big family here," he said. "We will mourn, we will pay our respects to the family and our fallen comrade, and we will carry on with the mission. The important thing for us, the soldiers, the whole team that is deployed here, is the fact that we know the Canadian public is behind the soldiers, the people wearing the uniform," he said.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
“FAMILIES OF CANADIAN SOLDIERS IN AFGHANISTAN”
ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 25, 2007
AT THE 404 WING R.C.A.F., MEMBERS’ LOUNGE
510 DUTTON DR., WATERLOO
6:00 to 6:30 p.m. Arrival and Registration. Meet members of the 404.
6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Pot luck picnic and social hour
7:30 p.m. Guest Speaker, Dana Martel, M.S.W.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
About Our Speaker
Dana Martel is a social worker and Clinical Coordinator with the Operational Stress Injury Clinic, of St. Joseph’s Health Care, Parkwood Hospital, London. He has a special interest in the etiology and treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and comorbid conditions such as mood disorders which affect military personnel and their families.
From Kitchener or out-of-town: Take 86 North (Conestoga Parkway) and take the Northfield exit (one exit past King St.). Exit at Northfield, keep right and proceed over expressway. Turn left onto Parkside Drive (at lights), and then left onto Weber. Go over the hill and turn immediately left onto Dutton Dr. The facility is located at the end of the road.
From Waterloo or downtown: Follow Weber St. N. and go past Albert St. (traffic lights) and turn right onto Dutton Dr. before going over the hill.
R.S.V.P. to Kerry Townsen firstname.lastname@example.org or FOCSIA email@example.com
Pte Simon Longtin was killed on 19 August, 2007 after the vehicle he was traveling in, a LAV III, struck an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). The incident occurred roughly 1:41 am Kandahar time, approximately 20 km West of Kandahar City. The soldier was immediately evacuated from the scene by helicopter for urgent medical attention, but later succumbed to his injuries. At the time of the incident, the Canadian convoy was returning from a Forward Operating Base following a re-supply mission from Kandahar Airfield. Pte Longtin was a member of 3e Bataillon du Royal 22e Régiment, based out of Valcartier, Québec.
"There is no way to comfort those who are grieving today, except to say this soldier was an exceptional Canadian who deserved the gratitude and respect of his nation," said Col. Christian Juneau, Canada's deputy commander in Afghanistan.
Canadian Forces exchanged fire with Taliban insurgents after the blast -- 20 kilometres west of Kandahar City -- but no other Canadian soldiers were injured and no Taliban casualties could be confirmed.
The soldier was evacuated by helicopter to a hospital at Kandahar Airfield, but pronounced dead upon arrival.
Quebec's Royal 22nd Regiment, known in English Canada as the Van Doos, took command of Canadian military operations here on Aug. 1.
Political observers will watch to see how the news reverberates in Quebec, where support for the war is the lowest of any province.
Col. Juneau said the death will hit the Van Doos hard.
"It's like losing almost a brother. We're like a big family here," he said. "We will mourn, we will pay our respects to the family and our fallen comrade, and we will carry on with the mission."
Prayers and love go to the friends and family here and overseas of Private Simon Longtin.
It is the second time in a week that Canadian soldiers have been wounded or killed along Foster Road, a well-travelled supply route to forward operating base Masum Ghar.
Five soldiers were lightly injured last Sunday by an IED along the same road. After that attack, the military dispatched engineers to survey the route for IEDs.
The engineers checked for bombs in drainage culverts where insurgents are believed to have planted the bomb used in last Sunday's attack.
At one point, engineers discovered a Chinese-made mortar in one of the culverts. They detonated the bomb safely, setting off a thud that echoed through the nearby mountains.
Col. Juneau said Canadian troops will step up surveillance of the route. "However, with the size of our operation, it's quite difficult to have eyes everywhere. ... You travel on the road, (and) the next night they can insert themselves and install an IED."
Two soldiers incurred minor injuries Friday after their armoured vehicle rolled over an IED while traveling in a supply convoy about 30 kilometres west of Kandahar City.
The Muslim holy period Ramadan begins in a few weeks. On Saturday, the Taliban released a statement from their reclusive leader, Mullah Omar. It called on Afghans to wage a jihad against foreign "invaders."
There are roughly 2,500 Canadian troops stationed in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led coalition that is attempting to secure and rebuild the country.
To View or Sign the Guestbook for the family of Pte Longtin,
Sunday, August 12, 2007
I have been dealing with a family crisis. So, please bear with me.
As I think of last night, tears well up in my eyes.
As I stood vigilant with my sisters over my mother's bed, we notice movement in the hallway.
There standing in the doorway wearing a Kandahar Tim Hortons cap and holding a beautiful bouquet of flowers was my son. A ran to him, the hug meant so much. His friend had brought him down, driving the many hours for him to see his grandmother. A small smile and a word murmurred from my mother- "nice" and she fell back into her deep sleep.
Photo owned by: Military Mom taken on day of deployment.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
The Arrival Ceremony will include speeches from Lieutenant-General Angus Watt, Chief of the Air Staff and Colonel Michael Hood, 8 Wing Commander.After the ceremony, Lt.-Gen. Watt and Col. Hood will conduct a 20-minute media availability, along with aircrew and members of 429 (Transport) Squadron - the CC-177 squadron.
Photo identification will be required to gain base access.
Manufacturer: Boeing Crew/
Friday, August 03, 2007
August 3, 2007 -
As reported to Canadian Press
SHAWALI KOT, Afghanistan (CP) - Canadian soldier Francis Archambault says he couldn't believe what he was hearing in a conversation he had before he left Quebec for Afghanistan.
"Somebody who's educated, who has diplomas galore, told me there would be no war in the world if people like me didn't exist," Archambault, 23, said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
"It really shocked me to hear that from someone who should know better."
Archambault and other Quebec-based soldiers in Afghanistan expressed frustration and exasperation with the widespread opposition in their home province to Canada's military mission in the country.
One poll suggested 70 per cent of Quebecers were opposed to the continued presence of Canadian soldiers in the war-torn land, while some members of the national assembly refused to stand up when several soldiers visited the legislature earlier this year.
Archambault said people who are against the mission are misguided when they accuse Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives of wanting to endorse U.S. foreign policy just to stay in the good books of the Bush administration.
"That has nothing to do with it," he said. "Canada is not getting a lot out of its presence here. It costs lives and it costs money but we're trying to give a chance to people who need help.
"It's probably the biggest thing I'll do in my life."
Canada has about 2,500 troops in Afghanistan as part of the NATO force supporting the Afghan government. In the new rotation, most of them will be from CFB Valcartier, near Quebec City.
Canada is slated to leave Afghanistan in February 2009 and Harper has said extending the mission would require the consensus of Parliament.
Master Cpl. David Martel, one of the Van Doos charged with patrolling the Shawali Kot district in southeastern Afghanistan, said the attitude of some people is disheartening.
"You come here because you believe in what you do," Martel said.
"You want to provide security and help people improve their lot, while back home people aren't very receptive to that. They say you're just off to kill people."
Sgt. Steve Dufour said people are entitled to their opinion but believes the Canadian mission is not understood and is often misinterpreted.
"I spoke to one student who was against the mission," he said. "I told her 'In Canada, does anyone prevent you from going to school and getting an education?' Well, that's what it's like here (in Afghanistan)."
To read about our soldiers' progress being made in Afghanistan click here.
A big HUA to our troops!