Ive been riding steadily northeast towards Ottawa, tommorows National Afghanistan 'Day of Honour' ceremonys just hours away from taking place there and across Canada..
I rode my bike to 8 Wing Trenton April of 2002 as the repatriation of our Afghan missions first casualtys took place from the horror of April 17's evening 'Friendly Fire' incident at Tarnac Farm...
It was my Honour, My Duty To stand by the side of my Old Unit, 3 PPCLI as those killed at Tarnac, just outside of Kandahar Afghanistan came home - Marc Leger, Ainsworth Dyer, Richard Green and Nathan Smith of 'Jump Company', the familys of our Fallen at our sides as those who's lives ended or where changed forever came back to them.. Wounded were Lorne Ford, Rene Paquette, Brett Perry, Norman Link, Brian Decaire, Curtis Hollister, Stan Clark, and Shane Brennan..
Gathered inside the Hanger Old Soldiers and new whispered greetings as comrades back from theatre and those of us united in mourning did our best to support the Familys of Everyone suffering from the tragedy. As the Mission in Afghanistan had clearly brought our Forces back into harms way, the future bore a heavy darkness with the knowledge that more danger lay ahead. Brother after brother of the Patricia Battlegroup in hushed tones told me of that range night terror out at Tarnac, as well of the scope of the threat our forces faced in Afghanistans operations to come..
We All new instinctively that the Future held more Loss and Tragedy.
Later that week in the Ottawa Valley II again witnessed thousands of citizens gathering in the Pembroke Hockey arena pledging to 'Never Forget', as a chill went through me praying that the same expressions of Support would be the possible for anyone else Killed or wounded on this Afghan mission- I asked myself, 'Would the same outpouring of Love and Support be Given to Every future Casualty no matter how long the mission?'.
I and the Family's and Comrades of those who serve, had nothing to fear.
We had no idea then that the Dark days, months and years ahead would carry 158 of our Heroes away, or that hundreds would be wounded, thousands affected forever by the Mission in Support of the Afghan people. And Yet- Canada stood Strong, and our CAV/VAC family that was born in these dark days in direct outreach support of our military and its familys -would Set an incredible High Standard in 'Ongoing Service'!!
I myself attended 150 repatriations , 75 at 8 Wing Trenton and 75 in front of the Coroners office in Toronto. My plea in our 2003 founding year to our 'new' CAV family to stand beside me or in my place as I rode for the CAV nationwide representing our organization, was answered Proudly by the hundreds of 'CAV/VAC' to come!! Ive also had the incredible Honour of riding by your sides hundreds of times down the 'Highway of Heroes', even watching Proudly as our CAV organizations Heartfelt Provincial 'Highway of Heroes' trans Canada highway project became a National Success from sea to sea !
You of the 'CAV/VAC' have humbled me and Every citizen, especially those who suffer from the pain of our Afghan service non stop from Newfoundland to British Columbia and All points in between - as YOU reached out to our Nations Heroes families and friends, supporting or creating Hundreds of Events and positive energys in tribute to the Legacy of the Heroes of this now completed Mission.
The debt I owe our CAV/VAC family for that ongoing service, is a debt Ive pledged my remaining life, to repay.
Not a single Repatriation was missed by our CAV family !!
In fact Hundreds of times Nation Wide YOU Stood Tall and Proud as CAV- Not to 'be seen' but to witness and Support the familys and Comrades of our casualtys from the Afghanistan Mission!!
Tommorow, in our Nations Capital, Provincial capitals, Citys and towns, villiages or at Cenataphs Nation wide- As this National Day of Honour takes place remembering the sacrifices of our Canadian Familys who gave Everything for the Afghan people, Remember Always My Pride in ALL of YOU!!
Our Entire Nation is PROUD of ALL of YOU!!!!
'Trapper' Cane CD