Relatives of fallen Canadian soldiers visit Afghanistan
'I needed to see it through Dennis's eyes,' wife of a soldier says on three-day visit for final memorial..
Josh Wingrove Kandahar Air Field — Globe and Mail Update Published on Friday, Feb. 05, 2010 3:02PM EST
Under the rainy skies of southern Afghanistan and thousands of kilometres from her home, Mishelle Brown said her final goodbye.
It has been nearly one year since her husband, Warrant Officer Dennis Brown, was killed in a roadside bomb blast during his first tour in the country. His remains were repatriated to his waiting wife in St. Catharines, but she still sought closure.
“I needed to see it through Dennis's eyes,” she explains. “These guys [other soldiers] come home and they get to tell their wives what it smelled like, what it looked like, and I didn't get that opportunity.”
Ms. Brown was among the relatives of eight fallen Canadian soldiers who were flown to Kandahar Air Field Thursday for a three-day final memorial. Ms. Brown toured the base and stood in a Bison military vehicle, the same type in which her 38-year-old husband died.
“I stood in the sentry hatch where my husband stood in his last moments,” Ms. Brown said. “This is really my final goodbye. I've left him here. This is where he died. This is where I have finally said goodbye.”
Josh Wingrove / The Globe and Mail
Mishelle Brown, whose husband was killed in duty in Afghanistan in 2009, grieves during a memorial at Kandahar Air Field Friday.
The Canadian Forces offer the next of kin of fallen soldiers the opportunity to visit KAF, where Canadian operations are based. Often the ceremonies are low-key or closed to the media. However, Friday's ceremony attracted a crowd of soldiers and onlookers, including top soldier Brigadier General Daniel Menard and the Afghan-Canadian governor of Kandahar province, Tooryalai Wesa.
“In the past months and years, all of you have been hit by what might be described as one of life's biggest storms. Someone you love so much died here in Afghanistan,” Padre Andre Gauthier told the families during the ceremony, which was punctuated by the sound of gunfire and jets flying overhead at the sprawling multinational base.
“This is a unique experience and there can be mystery in the way you are brought closer to your loved one. Here you can touch, see, smell and feel something that your loved one would have when they served in Afghanistan.”
The families left tokens, including photographs, bracelets and small stones, on a memorial that features the names and photos of each of the 139 Canadian soldiers killed since the mission began in 2002. Wreaths were laid for each of the eight soldiers, bearing his name, a purple ribbon and three large poppies....
Post a Comment