And We Grow
I spoke to an orthopedic surgeon the other day at Civic Hospital in Ottawa. He had done work on one of the soldiers who had been injured when WO Wilson, Cpl McLaren, and Pte Diplaros were killed. He had lost both legs and a hand. This is the tragedy that isn't accounted like the deaths are. The survivors attend the memorials and honour their fallen dead. It is important to honour their loss. They haven't died. They have to live their full lives and remember the loss of their comrades.
I regularly do training in small arms firing. I have done this for years. The instructors are combat arms soldiers and are often Reserves. I have noticed, over the last few years, a distinct change in the quality of the instructors. In the past they seemed gung-ho. Now they seem wise and much more grown up. They know that the difference between their lives and those of several of their comrades is a lot of luck. They know that the best way to enhance that luck is smart use of the trade.
Remember the most recent 8 fallen soldiers. Thank God that they cared enough to give all.
There have now been 100 Canadian Fatalities in Afghanistan. The question has been asked "will the resolve to hold the course falter in Canada?" Perhaps the people, the media and the caring people who never have to decide to do something hazardous and important, should ask the people who do put their lives on the line. They could ask the one of the three killed last week who was injured in a previous tour but was determined to go back because of the good he was able to accomplish. Perhaps they should ask the father of the young Private who served in the Greek army and is so very proud of his brave boy.
If we give up now, their deaths were in vain and they become a joke to the bastards who like to kill little girls because they have the temerity to go to school.
Read who the latest fallen soldiers are at Afghanistan Fatalities . Comment on the individuals at their own pages.
As a Wise MWO Once Told Me, "Bash On!"
While I concern myself with relatively minor, in the big scheme of things, issues quite a number of soldiers have lost their lives for the sake of things that are large in the big scheme of things. Things like little girls going to school, women having access to medical care, freedom of (or freedom from) religion, and keeping the "scum bags" away from our soil.
Look at the growing list of Heroes at the Afghanistan Fatalities . They wouldn't think of the losses as a waste of life and, if we keep our resolve and our heart for the fight, they won't be.
Promises and Losses
Over the last month or so two more soldiers have been lost in Afghanistan: Private John Street to the Taliban's favorite coward's tool and Corporal Michael Starker in armed combat during an ambush of a foot patrol. Dead is dead but at least Cpl Starker had a chance to fight back.
It is possible that there will be some relief from NATO after a series of announcements that troops from France, Romania, and the US will be moving into the hotter areas of the country. Hopefully, this will mean that some truly effective action against the Taliban will be possible.
See the Afghanistan Casualties listFrance's 'significant' troop pledge meets Afghan mission demand: PM - CBC News 3 Apr 2008DefenseLink News Article: U.S. May Send More Troops to Afghanistan - US DoD
Memories Live On
I went to the Canadian National Military Cemetery today to pay respects to some of our soldiers who have been lost in Afghanistan. My wife and I thought Good Friday would be a good day to do that. It was cold and there were not a lot of footsteps in the snow but some of them had obviously been visited recently - in the days this week when it was warm because the people had sunk deep in the snow. I was able to walk on the top of what was now a field of ice.
When I came to the grave of Sgt Shane Stachnik it was obvious that a close friend had been there before me as there was a bouquet of roses left and a pint of Guinness.
Sgt Stachnik, if you read the link, was one of those people who helps to keep a unit together with his sense of humour and joie de vie. Clearly, he is missed.
Everyone should visit the cemetery. It is a touching experience. They have given everything for their country. We can give the time to pay our respects.
Twice this last week soldiers have been lost Bombardier Jérémie Ouellet and Sergeant Jason Boyes were killed within a few days of each other. My prayers are with their families.
The fill list of fatalities in Afghanistan related to the mission their is at the link. You can follow the links there to individual pages for each soldier. I welcome comments at the soldiers' pages as the purpose of this site is to collect the thoughts and memories of the soldiers from the people who knew and loved them so that I and we can get to know more than can be gleaned from a press release.
The Mission Moves On
In the same week that John Manley's report gave a resounding endorsement of the necessity to maintain the mission in Afghanistan for fear of creating a waste of the losses suffered by Canada we have lost another soldier to an IED, Corporal Etienne Gonthier of5 Combat Engineer Regiment.
See the continuous list of the Afghan fallen here. There will be a link to the details of Cpl Gonthier's page as well as all the rest. Please, if you have known any of the Soldiers we have lost there add your thoughts to their pages in their Comments.