Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"An extremely difficult week" in Afghanistan

The words "extemely difficult week" from Canadian commander Brigadier-General Vance in Kandahar provide a sad understatement on Canadian casualties this last week.

Yesterday we lost two soldiers, Master-Corporal Patrice Audet and Martin Joanette, when their Griffon helicopter crashed at a forward operating base in Zabul province in Afghanistan. A British soldier was also killed in the crash. While most of our fatalities in Afghanistan have been from the Army, Audent joins a small group of KIAs who wore blue berets, something one becomes sensitive to when working on an Air Force base.

Quoted on Global News, BGen Vance had this to say about the two fallen soldiers:

“Master Cpl. Pat Audet was a charismatic man who always knew the right words to put a smile on someone’s face,” Vance said in a statement to the media.

“He was a big man with a gentle heart and always put the needs of others before his own. Pat was exceptionally proud of his family and talked of his wife, Katherine, his parents and the rest of his family constantly. A scuba enthusiast, he was passionate about exploration and travel. Pat was always very professional in his work, loved what he did and was proud to be serving on this mission.”

It was Audet’s second overseas deployment, but his first in Afghanistan.

“Cpl. Martin Joannette had a heart of gold and a remarkable generosity which he shared with everyone around him,” Vance said. “He was a proud and devoted infantryman who excelled in adversity. He was always ready to push forward and lead others through because in his eyes, nothing was insurmountable.”

It was Joannette’s third deployment in Afghanistan and Vance said the soldier had already spoken about returning for a fourth. He leaves behind his wife, Marie-Eve.

Patrice Audet

Martin Joanette

On Friday, July 3rd, Corporal Nick Bulger, an infanteer with 3 PPCLI, was killed when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Kandahar province. Bulger was part of BGen Vance's close protection force - BGen Vance was not injured in the blast. CBC News carried a quote from Cpl. Bulger that he had given in an interview just days before on Canada Day:

Especially when we're driving down the streets in the rural areas, to look down into the eyes of the children that are there, you get a different perspective," Bulger said Wednesday.

"All you see is the war and the destruction and stuff like that, but then when you see those kids running through the streets without a care in the world … being here makes a huge difference."

Video of that interview can be found here.

Nick Bulger

On Saturday, July 4th, another Canadian soldier, Master Cpl. Charles-Philippe Michaud, died in a Canadian hospital of injuries suffered from an IED blast while on foot patrol in Panjwai province on 23 June. Michaud served with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment. CBC reported BGen Vance as saying of Michaud:

"Master Cpl. Charles-Philippe Michaud, or Chuck as he was called by his friends, was a proud member of the [22nd Royal Regiment] and a dedicated soldier who never gave up and was always concerned about the well-being of those around him."

Charles-Philippe Michaud

These deaths bring the number of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan to 124. While that number is significant and painful, to put it into perspective, 516 Canadian soldiers fell during the Korean War (1950-53), 359 were killed on D-Day in Normandy (6 June, 1944), 3,598 fell at Vimy Ridge (9 April, 1917) and 244 died during the Boer War (1899-1902).

Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon them.

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Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.


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