Sunday, December 28, 2008

Oh Canada: Some Gave all

Pte. Michael Freeman, 28, was from 3rd Battalion, the Royal Canadian Regiment based at CFB Petawawa.
Pte. Michael Freeman, 28, was from 3rd Battalion, the Royal Canadian Regiment based at CFB Petawawa.

Pte. Michael Freeman, 28, died Friday when his armoured vehicle struck a roadside bomb in the Zhari District of Kandahar province during a security patrol around 12:45 p.m. local time.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk, who were in Afghanistan on Saturday as part of a three-day visit, attended the ramp ceremony for the fallen soldier.

"Pte. Freeman served his country bravely with pride and dedication. His sacrifice will not be forgotten," MacKay said in a statement.

Freeman, who lived in Peterborough, Ont., leaves behind his parents and a fiancée.

"He had a great sense of humour, [was] a dependable driver and member, and had the natural gift of complaining in a very nice way," a eulogist said at the ceremony. [source]

And then on Saturday:

Sgt. Gregory John Kruse.

Sgt. Gregory John Kruse. (DND)

Kruse was from the 24 Field Squadron, 2 Combat Engineer Regiment based in Petawawa, Ont. He was serving as a member of 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment battle group.

Just days before his death, Kruse's wife, Jill, had sent an email to a military padre, expressing her concern for the soldiers during the holidays. The padre read her statement to the troops who bid their final goodbye to their comrade at Kandahar Airfield.

"Christmas has finally come and our soldier isn't home," Jill Kruse wrote only days ago. "And for some families, they won't have their soldiers sit at their table for Christmas dinner again." [source]

Warrant Officer Gaetan Joseph Roberge.

Warrant Officer Gaetan Joseph Roberge. (DND)

Roberge, was a member of the Royal 22nd Regiment who was serving with the Irish Regiment of Canada in Sudbury, Ont. He was serving in Afghanistan to help train the country's national police force.

Capt. Shane Gapp described Roberge as someone with a good sense of humour, and who earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues.

"His men loved him. He loved his men. You could count on him at any point in time to do anything," Gapp said. [source]

An Afghan police officer and Afghan interpreter were also killed in the blast about 25 kilometres west of Kandahar city.

Four Canadian soldiers were wounded and airlifted to the hospital at the Kandahar Airfield. They are listed in good condition. An Afghan interpreter suffered minor injuries and was treated and released from hospital.

"There are no words to properly express our sorrow at this moment. Every one of our soldiers is very dear to us. They are our friends and our brothers," the Canadian commander of coalition forces in Kandahar, Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson, said Sunday.

"We also grieve for our Afghan brothers with whom we have been working side by side to help make their country more secure and stable." [CBC]

There ARE no words - only prayers from my heart for all who love these fine Canadians and Afghans. I will remember.

Soldiers salute during the ramp ceremony at Kandahar Airfield for Warrant Officer Gaetan Roberge and Sgt. Gregory John Kruse on Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. (Steve Rennie / THE CANADIAN PRESS) [here]

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