Repatriation ~ He is Coming Home
Sgt. James MacNeil is on his final journey home. The repatriation is scheduled for Friday, June 25th, 2010 at 2:00 pm at CFB Trenton, ON
Please wear red, carry a flag and stand with others on the overpasses along the Highway of Heroes (401 Westbound from Trenton to Don Valley in Toronto). It is a chance to pay respects and show the family that they are not alone during such a difficult time in their lives. Let's show the MacNeil family and comrades our compassion for our fallen soldier.
Chimo Jimmy. Thank you for your dedication, courage and compassion. You will always be remembered.
Killed in action was Sergeant James Patrick MacNeil from 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ontario. Sergeant MacNeil was serving with 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group.
We are all thinking of the family and friends of our Canadian fallen comrade during this sad time. The commitment and sacrifice of our military and their loved ones are helping to make a difference in the lives of the people of Kandahar Province.
Sgt. James MacNeil, 28, a “proud Cape Bretoner” from Glace Bay, N.S., was killed by an improvised explosive device near the village of Nakhonay while on a joint foot patrol with the Afghan National Army. He was on his fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Jeannie Lind, his cousin, said MacNeil was planning a new chapter in his life and had just become engaged to Laura, a teacher living in Glace Bay as well, hoping to eventually buy a house and become stationed in Sydney, N.S.
MacNeil was sports enthusiast who played rugby, hockey and baseball, was well-loved by everyone in the community. “He was the life of the party. He would come home and make sure he visited everyone, family and friends. Everybody loved him. Even the janitors where he was stationed were crying today. He was very easy to talk to and get to know,” Lind said, adding that she used to email MacNeil frequently, but is now afraid to check her inbox to read his last dispatch. “I was very proud of him, extremely, we can’t believe it,” she said, adding that MacNeil’s fiancée is devastated. “I haven’t seen her, I’m sure she’s not doing good.”
MacNeil is the second straight Canadian soldier to die in Nakhonay, about 15 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city. Nakhonay is in the Panjwaii district which is known as the birthplace of the Taliban. It has been a battleground for Canadian troops since they arrived in Kandahar province in strength four years ago. While villages and towns have been repeatedly cleared, the Taliban have quietly reasserted themselves in parts of the region.
He was the epitome of excellence and professionalism, said Vance, who called him a “proud Cape Bretoner” who couldn’t say no to a social gathering. Vance said MacNeil was known for his good sense of humour and, according to his men, was a great person to work for.
“He was blessed with a permanent smile and eyes that could not conceal the mischief that he was no doubt contemplating.” Vance said that after MacNeil’s last deployment to Afghanistan, and before his promotion to sergeant, he was recognized as the top master corporal in 2 Mechanized Brigade Group.
Ramp Ceremony ~ Afghanistan
~He is Coming Home~
His fellow soldiers hoped to take some sort of inspiration from MacNeil's death, which came in much the same way so many others have before: on a dusty road during a routine foot patrol, this one near the village of Nakhonay, 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city.
"To a man, we were all affected and many continue to struggle and cope with his death," fellow combat engineer Maj. Jim Smith said Wednesday during an early-morning ramp ceremony at the sprawling military base.
"We continue to fight the good fight in his honour, in his memory. We all must believe that we do this for him."
Less than 24 hours before his death, MacNeil and his girlfriend got engaged long-distance and began making plans for a wedding and a new home.
"It'll be a tremendous loss, and I know it's going to be hard for us to recover from this, but he will always be remembered by those he was closest to as a guy who loved life, loved his friends and loved Laura, his fiancee," Smith said.
1,200 Canadian, Dutch, American and British troops marched onto the tarmac, standing at attention while the light armoured vehicle transporting MacNeil's body slowly made its way onto the airfield. To the familiar skirl of bagpipes, the casket -- shrouded in a Canadian flag -- was carried to a waiting military transport by eight of MacNeil's fellow soldiers.
In remembering his friend, Smith chose to focus on MacNeil's life, rather than his death.
"I've known Jimmy for many years, since 2001 in fact, and I've always loved his sense of humour -- he always tried to be the centre of attention, whether intentionally or not, and he was always the centre of the party," Smith recalled with a smile. "But I can assure you, he was well-liked and well-respected by all his officers, peers and soldiers alike."
In a statement Tuesday, family members said MacNeil was an outgoing and loving young man who died doing something he believed in. "He loved his military career and at the time of his death was on his fourth operational deployment to Afghanistan," the statement said.
"He believed that his career in the military and his deployments to Afghanistan would contribute to a better life for the Afghan people."
Family in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia Prepare for Sgt. MacNeil's Return Home The family of Sgt. James (Jimmy) MacNeil is hoping the public will help honour his final trip home. Nadine Navarole, a first cousin of the late Sgt. Jimmy MacNeil, said the family plans to provide a Highway of Heroes — like the one in Ontario — welcome home.
“When Jimmy is brought home, we are asking anyone who knew him or anyone who would just like to honour him to line the highway — as a salute — from the highway outside the Sydney airport to McGillivray’s Funeral Home in Glace Bay,” she said.
“We are also asking anyone in uniform, such as firefighters and legion members, to come out and stand proudly in their uniform, like Jimmy always did.”
MacNeil, the son of Velma MacNeil and stepfather Allan Burke of Dartmouth, and James MacNeil and stepmother Hellen MacNeil of Glace Bay, joined the military in 2000 after graduating from Glace Bay High School. “He promised us this would be his last tour,” Navarole said. “He fell in love with a wonderful woman — Laura Boutilier, a teacher in Glace Bay. They were looking for a home, getting ready to settle down.”
MacNeil will be repatriated at CFB Trenton on Thursday at 2 p.m. where the official Highway of Heroes is.
His family, including aunts, uncles and some other members, are going to Trenton for the service. The family believes their son will be brought home Saturday, but are still waiting for confirmation. On Tuesday, family members were busy making funeral arrangements. Details have not been finalized, but the service is expected to be held next week at Immaculate Conception Church in Bridgeport.
Navarole said the day also included a lot of reminiscing about the wonderful memories MacNeil left behind. “He had a way of making each and every individual member of his family feel like they were his favourite.” Navarole said the family is receiving an overwhelming show of support from the public. “It is overwhelming and greatly appreciated.”
Kathy MacKinnon, also a first cousin of MacNeil’s, said the news has hit the extremely close-knit family hard. “He was the baby of all the cousins. They all called him their baby boy, it is a devastating blow.” MacKinnon said MacNeil was so family-oriented, all his vacations were spent at home with his family. “When he was home, every family member got to see him,” she said.
“He meant everything to his family and his family meant everything to him.”
If you would like to leave a note of condolence, please place it in the comment section, and I will transfer it below. Regards, m.m.
Our family is deeply sorry for your loss Jimmy was a close friend of my son Master Cpl. Cory Coulson they were a close bunch they loved him for the person he was . We will not forget Jimmy. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time . We are so very proud of him for all the good he has done. Our deepest sympathies Sharon & Bill Coulson
Driven day after day by their sense of duty, the members of the Canadian Forces answer their country's call in response to Afghan security commitments undertaken by NATO-member countries, under the auspices of the United Nations. Sergeant MacNeil was a dedicated participant in this most complex and perilous mission. We shall forever be indebted to him for the tremendous perseverance, courage, heroism and generosity that he exhibited. We shall not forget him. I know that Canadians are as one in their desire to offer comfort and support to Sergeant Macneil's family, friends and brothers-in-arms. We join them in extending our deepest sympathies and condolences. ~Michaëlle Jean
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~"The Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence mourn the death of Sergeant James Patrick MacNeil, who was killed today after an improvised explosive device detonated during a foot patrol, about 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones in this time of grief.
Sergeant MacNeil served valiantly alongside his comrades to help build a better and brighter future for Afghans. His passing illustrates some of the risks that the selfless men and women of the Canadian Forces face every day in carrying out their duties.
Canada is in Afghanistan as part of a UN-sanctioned mission to help build a stable, democratic, and self-sufficient society. Our Canadian Forces members are playing a key role in this NATO-led mission, helping improve the security situation in order to create the conditions necessary for Afghans to live normal lives.
Sergeant MacNeil was bringing hope to a population that has seen much hardship and turmoil. His death is a terrible loss for the Canadian Forces and all of Canada." ~Peter MacKay
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~“On behalf of all Canadians, I offer my deepest condolences to the family, friends and comrades of Sergeant James Patrick MacNeil, who died today after an improvised explosive device detonated during a foot patrol, about 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City. May you be consoled by the knowledge that an entire country stands behind you in your grief.
“Sergeant Macneil was a courageous, dedicated soldier who gave his life trying to help the Afghan people build a better future for themselves and their country.
“Canadians stand proudly with the men and women of the Canadian Forces as they make brave sacrifices in support of this UN-mandated, NATO-led mission to bring peace and security to the people of Afghanistan.
“Sergeant MacNeil’s life and death serves as an example of the bravery and outstanding dedication of Canadian Forces members on this mission. Canada will remain forever grateful for his sacrifice. We are all saddened by this loss. ~Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Sadness again for Sgt MacNeils family and fiancee, As well as the extended members of the Invisible Army. May he Rest in Peace his duty done. May his family find strength in his brothers in arms friends and Canadians who care.
www.invisiblearmycanada.ca ~ Robby McRobb
Word cannot express what sorrow this tragedy has brought to the friends and family of Jimmy. A kindred spirit has no place in a war of senseless violence and greed. If only time could be reversed... this man is a soldier for heaven now and guards all of our hearts for the rest of the day... I bless all of you to have the strength to get through this difficult time... Rick
I am just a fellow Caper, who is touched by this boy's story. The words and photos shared by those who knew him best, tell the tale of a wholesome young man, full of life & love. May that love surround those he cared for, in his short , but meaningful time on earth. The memories may bring attention to his absence, but will help honor the void that can never be filled. Try to hold on to the happy times. I am sure there were many. God bless, and keep him. In the arms of the angels, an angel on earth is no longer restricted and held back by the human form. He tried to free those he fought to help. He is now free, to help for eternity. Those he left behind continue their battles, personal and global, in his honor. RIP soldier. May we all find such peace in memory of our local hero. A sad time for our island home, our whole country feels the loss, the world could use more like him.. Anonymous
It was such a sad day learning of Sgt. McNeil. In disbelief, I called my son asking him if Jimmy was serving, "Well, information I have says that Jimmy is a Sgt, Jimmy isn't a Sgt." I said to my son. He replied, "Yes he is... Mom, what's going on?" I then told him. We were both shaken and there was a silence and tears. IMy son served with Jimmy during Roto 2. I had an opportunity to meet him and chat with him during their deployment day. Such a wonderful person. I took a picture of him with his fellow comrades when they made the stop at the the Tim's enroute to the awaiting plane. I look at that picture and the smile on his face- such an infectious smile. I have used this picture in my slideshow and dedicated it to Jimmy. I can't imagine what his family is going through. He will me missed by all, but always rememebered. ~ m.m.