Joshua and His Family
Master Cpl. Josh Roberts was literally counting down the days until his fiancee gave birth to his first-born son.
"Josh Roberts has 55 days till fatherhood...oh my," reads a July 31 posting by Roberts on his personal website on Facebook. Master Cpl. Josh Roberts had already picked out a name for his unborn son - Meyer - and was hoping to be home in time for the birth when his battlefield rotation in Afghanistan ended in a matter of weeks.
Roberts, originally from Saskatoon but based in Shilo, Manitoba since 2006, leaves behind his fiancee, 25-year-old Lise Malenfant of Prince Albert, who is nearly 8 months pregnant. He also leaves his father Brian Roberts, Heather, mother and step-father, Beth and Gene Figley, of Dalmeny, SK. and cousins Crystal and Colin Roberts of Calgary, AB.
The family has asked not to be contacted by media, but will be releasing a statement.
Roberts began his career in the professional military service in more than a decade ago, beginning as an infantry soldier with the Primary Reserves. He served first with the Calgary Highlanders, then moved to Saskatoon, where he served with the North Saskatchewan Regiment.
He then joined the Regular Force in August of 2006 where he was part of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in Shilo. Just two weeks ago Roberts was promoted to a master corporal position. "It was a promotion that has been delayed because of his transfer from the reserve force to the regular force. “He had been extremely patient and always kept a sense of humour about it,” said Lt. Col. Corboud.
The Afghanistan mission was Roberts' second overseas. He had previously been sent as part of the peacekeeping reserves to Bosnia in 2002 to 2003.
Brian Lacoursiere, public affairs officer with the 38th Canadian brigade group in Saskatchewan, met Roberts through the North Saskatchewan Regiment in 2000. He says without hesitation he was an exceptional man.
"He was a real soldier, very good at it, just a skilled and qualified soldier. I had a lot of respect for him, and this is a real tragedy," Lacoursiere said.
A native of Saskatchewan and a member of the 2nd Battalion, Prince Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry based in Shilo, Man., Robert leaves behind his fiancee, Lise, and their unborn son, Meyer. The family asked not to be contacted by media but released a written statement Sunday saying "this is a time of tremendous shock and grief.""Josh was a soldier. He had always wanted to be a soldier, and he loved what he did. He felt strongly in what he was doing, and the family is hopeful Canadians will understand and appreciate the sacrifice Josh has made for all Canadians, and the sacrifice of all families of military personnel serving in Afghanistan.""He was the kind guy that we would describe as the soldier's soldier," said the battle group commander, Lt.-Col. Dave Corbould. "And I know that's a coined phrase but in fact he was one of those real guys, always carrying his share, and more, and always looking out for his buddies and comrades."Making Roberts' death particularly difficult for Canadians is the confused nature of the fire fight that claimed his life in the violent Zhari district on Saturday morning. Military officials are refusing to release details except to say the engagement involved coalition forces, insurgents and a private security firm that was escorting a civilian convoy.Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson would not comment on reports that Canadian soldiers were involved in a skirmish with insurgents when the civilian convoy happened to drive by and, mistaking the fire fight for an ambush, opened fire on the Canadians. Roberts was reportedly in his armoured vehicle with his head out of the hatch when he was hit."An investigation is being conducted to determine the details surrounding this incident," said Thompson of the probe being launched by the military's independent National Investigation Service.Armed security firms are a common sight in war-torn Afghanistan and in fact the Canadian military hires private security to help guard some of its bases.The firms are also targets of insurgents. On July 16, a convoy of civilian fuel tankers escorted by one of the largest firms, Compass Security, was attacked, and five of the trucks set on fire.
Statement by the Minister of National Defence
The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, issued the following statement today on the death of Canadian soldier Master Corporal Joshua Roberts:
"On behalf of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces, I would like to extend my most heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of Master Corporal Joshua Brian Roberts, who died today while serving in Afghanistan. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this time of grief.
MCpl Roberts suffered injuries following an engagement with insurgents in the Zharey District. First aid was administered. MCpl Roberts was then evacuated by helicopter to our medical facility at Kandahar Air Field. Sadly, this brave soldier was pronounced dead upon arrival. Canada is saddened by this loss.This UN-sanctioned, NATO-led mission is a challenging one, but the Government of Canada and its allies are committed to helping the people of Afghanistan after decades of war.We are working with Afghanistan to help build a democratic and self-sufficient society. The sacrifice of MCpl Roberts towards this end will not be forgotten.
The circumstances surrounding the death of MCpl Roberts are currently under investigation.Master Corporal Joshua Brian Roberts served with the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Shilo, Manitoba.
Ramp Ceremony Sunday August 10th, 2008 -Kandahar, Afghanistan
Hundreds of NATO soldiers of different nationalities saluted along with Canadian soldiers as they lined the tarmac at Kandahar Airfield on Sunday to mourn the loss of another comrade before his body was transported back to Canada.
on board a C-130 Hercules aircraft . Details of how Roberts was killed remain clouded in the chaos of battle, and are the subject of a military investigation, but the pain of his death was clearly visible on the faces of his comrades who carried his flag-draped casket during a sunset ramp ceremony at Kandahar Airfield on Sunday.
In a ceremony that has become sadly familiar to Canadians, hundreds of troops from countries involved in the NATO-led coalition snapped to attention as a piper played a lament and a chaplain read a tribute.
A flag draped coffin containing the remains of Master Cpl. Josh Roberts of Saskatoon is carried by fellow soldiers Pte. Richard Stratton (left front) and Pte. Jeremy Bruce (right front) to a Hercules aircraft at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan Sunday. Photo credit: CP
“Those who had the honour of knowing Master Cpl. Roberts describe him as the embodiment of a brother, in the truest sense of the word,” said Capt. Darren Persaud, the battle group chaplain, in a prayer offered during the ramp service.
“Truth, honour and loyalty were not mere words to Josh, but the unspoken creed by which he lived his life. Josh would be there for his friends at any time, to lend a hand or to give them honest advice. Sometimes it was not the advice they wanted to hear, but it was always the advice they needed.”
At about 5:45 p.m., Kandahar Airfield came to a standstill as hundreds of soldiers from many lands marched to pay respect during a ramp ceremony Sunday night.
Two perfect flanks were formed on either side of a waiting Hercules aircraft that will transport Roberts home to Canada.
The ceremony was moving and surprisingly short for a military service. To the sound of a lone piper, the Canadian flag-draped coffin was walked by his fellow soldiers one last time here in Afghanistan and loaded into the awaiting transport aircraft.
In 25 minutes, the service was over and the soldiers whisked back to their duties at KAF. PCFK
REPATRIATION TO CANADA:
Our fallen soldiers, Master Corporal Joshua Brian Roberts, 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (2 PPCLI), based out of Shilo, Manitoba and Master Corporal Erin Doyle, 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (2 PPCLI), based out of Edmonton, Alberta returned home to Canada.
Where: 8 Wing Trenton, Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ontario.
When: Wednesday, August 13, 2:00 p.m.
Present to pay their respects were the Governor General, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Minister of National Defence, The Honourable Peter MacKay, Chief of Defence, General W.J. Natynczyk and other dignitaries.
Photo taken at the Couburg overpass.~m.m.
Many Canadians gathered on overpasses of the 401 (Highway of Heroes) on Wednesday to honouring our fallen soldier and hero and in a show of support to the family and friends as he travelled his journey home.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~CONDOLENCES to the family of MCpl Joshua Roberts:
To the family, relatives, friends and of course M/Cpl Roberts army family; my wife Margie and myself send our deepest sympathy to all of you. We lost our son M/Cpl Jeffrey Scott Walsh in Afghanistan also on the 09 August 2006. Thank you M/Cpl Roberts for your Service to our Country Canada. Rest in Peace.
Ben and Margie Walsh Regina, Sask
To Ben and Margie Walsh: Thank you so much for your message, I too am so sorry for your loss. Words can not express how Iam feeling at this time. We have never met and yet we are going through the same situation. Once again thank you for all the kind messages. We miss Josh deeply. Tears are flowing...RIP my son
Love Dad (Brian Roberts) & Heather
Thank you so much for posting all this.I am M/Cpl Josh Roberts cousin and am ever so greatful for all the people who have been there for our soldiers! It is such a tragedy for this to happen and I too send my sympathy to all the other families out there!! May they ALL Rest in PEACE!!Much LOVE and RESPECT to ALL!!!
Crystal Roberts Calgary, Alberta
Master Corporal Josh Roberts will never be forgotten, all the good times we all shared, celebrate the life we all had with Josh and lets all be proud that he served our country. Josh was like my big brother always looked up to him, how brave he was. You did good bro, real good. your boy is gonna be sooo proud of you!
Love your bro(cousin) -Colin Roberts
Today, our nation mourns the loss of another proud member of our Canadian Forces. Master Corporal Joshua Brian Roberts, a member of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Shilo, Manitoba, lost his life in a tragic incident.
Throughout the course of our military history, thousands have answered the call of duty to defend freedom in different parts of the world, contributing to the restoration of peace and justice, in honour of humanity's democratic values. Like generations of soldiers who came before, Master Corporal Roberts was dedicated to these ideals. He courageously sacrificed so much to build the foundations of peace and stability in Afghanistan, where conflict and dictatorship have reigned for decades. His contributions were exceptional; his loyalty to his comrades in the 2nd Battalion PPCLI never faltered.
On behalf of all Canadians, I join with my husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, in offering our deepest condolences to the families, loved ones and friends of Master Corporal Roberts. Our thoughts are with them during this difficult time.
I only knew Josh for a very short time but for the time I knew him it was very enjoyable. RIP peace Josh and THANK YOU for your courage and service and my heart goes out to your family and friends.
Darcy Beck (Calgary)