Tomorrow is Remembrance Day. I’m sure a lot of you are like me, where everyday is Remembrance Day, but tomorrow it is official and a time to publicly show our appreciation and respect for the sadly shrinking number of WWII and Korea Veterans that are still with us (my Grandfather being one of them), the new generation of Veterans and most importantly, those that have given their lives in service of their country from WWI up to today’s current operations.
Last weekend I attended the funeral of a good friend and SAR Tech course mate of Course 37, Sgt. Janick Gilbert. Janick died two weeks ago on Oct. 27 after parachuting into Hecla Straight in Arctic sea water in order to save two Inuit hunters who were incapacitated and severely hypothermic. Those Inuit hunters are alive today because of the actions of decisions of Janick and his crew. I can’t even imagine the pain his family is going through. Janick left behind his wife and two young children. For them, everyday is Remembrance Day.
Two days later, on Oct. 29 MCpl Byron Greff was killed in an IED attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. I didn’t have the fortune of knowing MCpl Greff. I remember his face as a Private in Battalion just before I left. To date there have been 158 Canadian Forces KIA in Afghanistan, 16 of which were serving with my old unit; 3rd Battalion PPCLI. The first four deaths of the war in Afghanistan were good friends of mine. I had served in the same Section in Bosnia with Sgt Marc Léger, Cpl Ainsworth Dyer and Pte Richard Green. Marc was in my Company and Richard, Ainsworth and Pte Nathan Smith were in my Platoon in Afghanistan when they were killed 100m away from me. WO Kevin Towell was our Platoon Warrant, and though he wasn’t killed in combat, he died in a car accident in 2005. He was the best Platoon Warrant I ever served with. On July 25, 2006 Major Paeta Hess-Von Kruedener, HVK or Wolf as he preferred to be called, was killed when an Israeli bomb struck his UN Military Observation Post in Khiam South Lebanon. HVK was my Recce Platoon Commander in 3 PPCLI. These are some of the soldiers that I remember every day. For 3 PPCLI, where I served with these soldiers, everyday is Remembrance Day.
To date 8 Medics have been killed in combat in Afghanistan. Four of them have been students of CTOMS; MCpl Christian Duchesne, Cpl Nicolas Beauchamp, Pte Andrew Miller and MCpl Kristal Giesbrecht. For those of us that had the privilege to train with them and get to know them, everyday is Remembrance Day.
These are the ones that touched my life and I share their names here as a tribute to their memory and sacrifice. Every name, every face and the unknown soldiers that don’t have names and faces deserve to be remembered everyday. For all those that have died, there are countless that have been injured. They deserve to be remembered everyday. Tomorrow is Remembrance Day. I ask you to wear a poppy. Go to your local ceremony. Go to your local Legion. Remember those you knew. Pay respect to those you didn’t. Talk to the Veterans. Thank them for their service. And never forget, that your freedom wasn’t free. It was paid for by those that we are remembering.
November 10, 2011 at 11:54
Yesterday I was very busy racing around thinking of all that I had to do. It was only when I placed a poppy on each of my children as they went to school that I remembered the faces and voices of former military medic students. For all that have ever served,,,, Thank you for reminding me that nothing that I had to do that day was as important as kneeling in front of my kids to tell them about you.