Monday, June 30, 2008

Canada Day Parade in Cambridge, ON

A REMINDER of the upcoming parade on July 1st! Canada Day!
FOCSIA (Families of Soldiers Serving in Afghanistan) will be honouring all soldiers and celebrating Canada during Cambridge ON's Canada Day's largest Parade July 1st, 2008.
Join the soldiers' families along the parade route.. wear your RED - walk with them - but most of all ... honour our soldiers returned, preparing to deploy and those currently serving overseas.
The parade, consisting of approximately 120 -150 entries, will travel 4 kilometers along King Street (Preston) and will end inside Riverside park.

If you are a friend or family member of a soldier or a soldier yourself and would like to take in the parade:

Be at:
The Kinsmen Club of Preston 1400 Hamilton Street Cambridge
(use the following link for directions)
no later than 12:15 p.m. for line up. Contact FOCSIA for further details.

The bulk of the parade will line up on Hamilton St. past the Kinsmen Club rooms.

Or show your support along the parade route!

Country's Largest Canada Day Parade
starts from Bishop & King St. to Riverside Park, Cambridge, ON
When: July 1st, 2008 at 1:00 p.m.

Support Group for Parents of Canadian Soliders in Afghanistan

If you are a parent or family member of a Canadian Soldier in Southwestern Ontario and you are looking for a support group, email for more information:

Support Our Forces 5km Fun Run and Walk

Winnipeg, Manitoba
On June 28th, 2008 at 10 am, Colonel Scott Howden (17 Wing Commander) fired the starting pistol to commence the 5 km Fun Run and Walk sponsored by the Winnipeg Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) at Assiniboine Park Duck Pond.
All proceeds from the race went directly to programs and services for military families in Winnipeg. Yellow Ribbon-Support Our Forces Merchandise was available for purchase before and after the race. All participants were entered in random prize draws that took place at the conclusion of the race. Sounds like it was a lot of fun and very supportive of our families and troops! Thank you to all who joined. The Winnipeg MFRC "has been wonderful to all moms wives and families at home. "
Shown here is a proud military mom, June, who along with here supportive sisters-in-law participated in the run in support of their son and nephew who is serving in Afghanistan. "We are so proud of that kid (man)" said June. We are proud of him too June along with all those serving alongside Robert overseas!
Now, I'd like to send a BIG:
~from Military Mom and all your family and friends in Canada! Godspeed!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Golfing With the Troops at CFB Petawawa


The New Twin Rivers Golf Club donated a day's pay and time and local business people took to the golf course Friday, as they teed up for a SOLDIERS' APPRECIATION GOLF TOURNAMENT on Friday, June 13th. All profits generated from this tournament was donated to the Canadian Forces "Military Families Fund".
The New Twin Rivers Golf Club created a day that not only supports the families of our deploying members but the soldiers as well.
The cost for individual sponsors was $150. This price provided for two green fees, lunch, supper, free refreshments, and the opportunity to spend the day with a solider in a friendly environment while playing golf as yhey showed their appreciation for soldiers at CFB Petawawa.
More than 122 people spent the day at Twin Rivers Golf Club on CFB Petawawa for the first annual tournament.
Major Martin Lipcsey, base committee golf president, said the intent of the event was to invite the community of Petawawa to personally say "thanks" to soldiers for their efforts in Afghanistan by treating them to a fun-filled day of golf.
"We thought 'Let's bring all the (sponsors) here who support us so they can get to know the soldiers,'" he said.
"The whole community supports the troops, this was an opportunity to show it."
Approximately 50 area business people sponsored the event which provided rounds of golf for the soldiers, as well as food and beverages.
"We had a lot of great sponsors," said Major Lipcsey. "They really made the event."
The tournament was a four-person scramble, with teams of two soldiers and two sponsors playing each hole. The tournament started at 10 a. m. Participants ate lunch together and had a roast beef dinner and awards ceremony at the end of afternoon.
"It's so nice to see the community get together and all the local business men who came in here to support this," said Ken Miles, who has been in the military for 30 years. "This is our way of building bonds and making friends. We couldn't have had a better day."
Manager of Eastway Collision in Pembroke, Carlo Pleau, said he appreciated the opportunity to get to golf with the soldiers.
"We had a good group of guys," he said. "The guys in the service are second to none. It was nice to get to know them.

"When our families call out for help, we must be able to answer that call immediately and substantially. Our families have been here for us through our enrolment, our training, our deployments, and our homecomings. The military life places significant demands on our loved ones. They did not volunteer for service – but serve they do, and with great distinction. It is our turn to be there for our families.”
General Rick Hillier
Former Chief of the Defence Staff

Happy Father's Day 2008

Happy Fathers Day to all Fathers of Soldiers and our soldiers who left their young ones at home while serving overseas. We're thinking of you.. and our hearts and love go out to you today.

Friday, June 13, 2008

1,000 Inmates Escape From Afghan Prison After Blast

Canadian Troops Search Kandahar After Massive Jail Break

Jailbreak frees over 1000 Prisoners ( including some 350 Taliban militants) into Kandahar's Streets - a lot of hard work undone.

Canadian soldiers joined allied and Afghan national security forces in a sweeping door-to-door urban hunt for hundreds of escaped prisoners Friday after the Taliban staged a daring mass breakout at Kandahar City's Sarposa Prison.
A suicide bomber drove to the prison's main entrance and detonated his vehicle Friday around 9:30 p.m. local time.
The massive explosion, heard across the Afghanistan's second-largest city, destroyed the gate and a police checkpoint, burying guards under rubble and killing scores.
Witnesses said as many as 30 motorcycles then raced forward, carrying armed men firing rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and AK-47s. A second hole was blasted in a rear wall of the prison, the largest such facility in southern Afghanistan.
During the ensuing 20-minute battle inside the prison and in the city's west side, hundreds of prisoners were able to flee.
Wali Karzai, president of Kandahar's provincial council and the brother of President Hamid Karzai, told local reporters a short time later that all the inmates had fled. Late into the night, however, it remained unclear exactly how many escaped from the prison, which houses almost 1,200 inmates, including about 400 Taliban militants.
Some prison officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, estimated that as many as 800 prisoners managed to escape, while an unknown number were killed in a gun battle between police and Taliban fighters inside the jail.
"I think scores of others are caught up inside," one prison official told Reuters.
The blast caused an unknown number of casualties among the guards, prison director Abdul Qadir told Reuters.
"They (Taliban) used a truck to blow the gate open and all of the guards (at the gate) have been killed and are under rubble," he said by telephone. As he spoke, bursts of gunfire could be heard in the background.
A Taliban spokesman said the group was claiming responsibility.
Rockets were also fired at nearby Camp Nathan Smith, home of the Canadian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team, but witnesses said they fell far short.
Members of a Canadian Forces company protecting the team were among hundreds of security forces who responded to the daring attack, which came just days after Kandahar province's police chief, Brig.-Gen. Sayed Agha Saqib, told reporters here that the security situation in the city was good.
"We believe that the situation is under control," Joint Task Force Afghanistan spokesman Maj. Jay Janzen told reporters at Kandahar Airfield several hours after the brazen attack.
A security cordon had been established and a massive overnight search operation was launched in the city.
Canadian military sources could not initially confirm witness reports that Canadian tanks were rolling through the city.
The Canadian military's Janzen said International Security Assistance Force troops had helped establish a "security perimeter" in the area as the search continues for the many fugitives.
The stunningly successful attack comes at a time when Taliban insurgent activity is flaring up in Afghanistan's volatile south, where most of Canada's 2,500 troops in the country are deployed.
"We believe things are improving," said Janzen. "We're working hard with our Afghan allies to bring stability to the region."
The U.S. military has handed over an unspecified number of suspected Taliban fighters to Afghan custody under a program agreed to last year to transfer all Afghan prisoners from U.S. detention.
The U.S. military has arrested thousands of suspected Taliban and al-Qaida militants since invading Afghanistan in 2001 to help topple the Taliban government.
Last month, some 200 Taliban suspects being held at Sarposa, some of them without trial for more than two years, staged a week-long hunger strike before a parliamentary delegation promised their cases would be reviewed.
The number of al-Qaida-backed Taliban attacks has increased since 2006 and the prison raid ranks as one of the biggest.
The militants tried to assassinate President Hamid Karzai in April when he was attending a military parade near the presidential palace in Kabul. They are active mostly in southern and eastern areas near the border with Pakistan.
Canada, through the Provincial Reconstruction Team, is currently involved in the physical restoration of the mud-walled Sarposa and the training of its guards.
Friday's attack came a day after international donors in Paris pledged more than $20 billion for Afghanistan's development and security projects.
The resurgence of Taliban comes despite the presence of more than 60,000 foreign troops, including 2,500 Canadian troops, under the command of NATO and the U.S. military, as well as more than 150,000 government forces.
Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, chair of the Senate's defence committee, said the prison break raises disturbing questions about the conduct of coalition troops in Afghanistan.
He questioned how Canadian or other troops with the International Security Assistance Force failed to detect, with night-vision equipment, the after-dark movements of the attackers.
Kenny, whose committee recently returned from Kandahar, said the attack clearly shows there are not enough soldiers in southern Afghanistan.
His committee released a report this week, calling for an additional 4,000 NATO troops in the southern region.
Also on Friday, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates pressed fellow alliance defence ministers to contribute more troops to Afghanistan, but failed to get firm commitments.

What are your thoughts on this? ....

  • Do you think the guards were involved?

  • Will we be able to capture the insurgents including Taliban escapees?

  • Should the insurgents have been kept in a prison in the same country where they are still fighting or should they have been transported out of country after capture?

  • Should we go into Pakistan to re-capture fled prisoners?

Let me know how you feel. (you can post comments anonymously if you wish)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Canada won't leave until Afghan Work Done

PARIS - Canada, one of numerous countries pledging money at a conference here aimed at ramping up western government and public support for the Afghanistan mission, won't follow through on its promise to end its military role in Kandahar in 2011, an Afghan parliamentarian predicted Thursday.
Dr. Zalmai, chairman of a National Assembly committee responsible for dealing with corruption complaints, said he's confident Canada won't withdraw its 2,500 troops from Kandahar until the international community decides Afghanistan is ready.
``We are with the people of Canada, we appreciate their sacrificing, their help, their contributing to the reconstruction of Afghanistan,'' said Zalmai, who goes by only one name.
``As a parliamentarian I'm sure Canada will remain with us. They will never leave the Afghan people,'' he said.
His comments, made prior to Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson's presentation to the conference, echo those of two members of a Senate committee that tabled a report Wednesday assessing Canada's progress in Afghanistan.
Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, chairman of the Senate's national security and defence committee, and Conservative Senator Michael Meighen both said they doubted Canada will be able to pull out its troops by then.
One analyst said the Canadian government and Parliament are erring by setting a strict departure time.
Thomas Ruttig, former senior official to both the European Union and the United Nations on Afghanistan matters, said departure times help the Taliban intimidate Afghans who are tempted to co-operate with western soldiers and aid workers.
``Of course the Taliban go around saying, `we have all the time in the world, we'll just wait until all these guys are gone,''' Ruttig told Canwest News Service.
The daylong conference opened Thursday with speeches by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
Ban praised Karzai's government for promising to stamp out corruption, but said action has to be put behind those words with prosecutions against high- level offenders in government.
``I applaud Afghanistan for signing the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, and I urge the government to take active measures to ensure that it is implemented,'' Ban said.
Karzai, meanwhile, painted a rosy picture of his country's achievements and future objectives in areas such as economic growth, democratic development and human rights.
He called for a long-term international commitment to his country and said Afghanistan's needs include an emphasis on dam rehabilitation and agriculture.
Emerson is expected to share details about Canada's recent announcement that it will increase development and reconstruction aid to Afghanistan from $1.3 billion to $1.9 billion over the 10-year period ending in 2011, when Canada has said it will end its ``military presence'' in Kandahar province.
Canada, one of the world's largest aid donors to Afghanistan, will target the money towards three ``signature'' projects - the rehabilitation of a dam in order to create jobs and boost the agriculture economy in Afghanistan, the construction or renovation of 50 schools, and an expansion of a polio immunization program.
The United States, France, Germany, Japan and the World Bank also pledged billions of dollars more in reconstruction aid to Afghanistan in combined contributions.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Families and Friends to Honour Soldiers at Cambridge's Canada Day Parade July 1st 2008

Cambridge was buzzes with pride and curiosity as thousands of spectators wait with great anticipation for the start of the parade celebrating Canada's 140th Birthday!

Once again, FOCSIA (Families of Soldiers Serving in Afghanistan) will be honouring all soldiers and celebrating Canada during Cambridge ON's Canada Day Parade July 1st, 2008.

Join the soldiers' families along the parade route.. wear your RED - walk with them - but most of all ... honour our soldiers returned, preparing to deploy and those currently serving overseas.

Country's Largest Canada Day Parade

Where: starts from Bishop & King St. to Riverside Park, Cambridge, ON

When: July 1st, 2008 at 1:00 p.m.

Support Group for Parents of Canadian Soliders in Afghanistan


If you are a parent or family member of a Canadian Soldier in Southwestern Ontario and you are looking for a support group, email for more information: or

Sunday, June 08, 2008

June 7th 2007 - Bless Captain Jonathan Sutherland Snyder

It is with sadness on this day we announce the death of our brave Canadian Soldier, Captain Jonathan Sutherland Snyder.

On Saturday, June 7th, 2008, a soldier was killed at approximately 9:00 p.m., Kandahar time. The soldier was killed after falling into a well while conducting a security patrol in Zhari District.The fallen soldier is Captain Jonathan (Jon) Sutherland Snyder of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, Alberta.Members of Captain Snyder's patrol tried to extract him from the well, but were unsuccessful. Medical, engineering and search and rescue assets were rushed to the scene, and Capt Snyder was lifted out of the well. He was evacuated by helicopter to the Multi-National Medical Unit at Kandahar Airfield, but sadly was pronounced dead upon arrival.This accident has impacted us all, and the thoughts and prayers of the entire Canadian Task Force are with Capt Snyder's family and friends. We are deeply saddened by his death, and will not forget his commitment and dedication to his fellow soldiers and to this mission. Capt Snyder gave his life while mentoring Afghan soldiers as they conducted operations to enhance security for the people of Zhari District. We will not forget his sacrifice.
Capt Snyder, le 7 juin 2008Aujourd’hui, vers 21 h, heure de Kandahar, le Capitaine Jonathan (Jon) Sutherland Snyder est décédé après être tombé dans un puits au cours d’une patrouille de sécurité dans le district de Zhari. Le Capt Snyder était un membre du 1st Bataillon, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, basé à Edmonton, en Alberta.
God Bless you Captain Snyder and all your families and friends, both here and in Afghanistan.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Lieutenant General Natynczyk Appointed as Chief of the Defence Staff

Our New Chief of Defence Staff (CDS)

Lieutenant General Natynczyk
The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, welcomed the Prime Minister's announcement today appointing Lt.-Gen. Walt Natynczyk as the new Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS). The appointment will be effective following the Change of Command ceremony which will take place in the coming weeks."I am very pleased that the command of the Canadian Forces is now being passed to the very capable hands of Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk, said Minister MacKay. "Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk assumes the position at a very important time for the Canadian Forces. His leadership and experience will be invaluable as we continue to move forward with the Canada First Defence Strategy and our mission in Afghanistan. I have complete confidence in his ability to build on the foundation laid by General Rick Hillier."
Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk joined the Canadian Forces in August 1975. He attended Royal Roads Military College and College Militaire Royal in St Jean, graduating in 1979 with a degree in Business Administration. Upon completion of Canadian Forces Command and Staff College, he served on the Army Staff in St-Hubert, Quebec. Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk assumed the responsibilities of the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff on 28 June 2006."I'm deeply honoured to receive this appointment," said Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk. "It is truly a privilege to lead the men and women of the Canadian Forces who give so much to their country."General Hillier, who announced his retirement on April 15 after three years of being CDS, expressed confidence in Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk's ability to lead the Canadian Forces. "I have never worked with a finer officer than Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk. He has all the skills, experience and values to command the Canadian Forces and will have my full support. I congratulate him on his appointment and will hand over to him with the full knowledge that he will continue to adapt, and improve our Forces to accomplish the tasks Canadians need us to perform."

A native of Winnipeg, LGen Natynczyk joined the Canadian Forces in August 1975. He attended Royal Roads Military College and Collège Militaire Royal in St Jean, graduating in 1979 with a degree in Business Administration degree. His formative years were spent on NATO duty in Germany with The Royal Canadian Dragoons in troop command and staff appointments.
In 1983, LGen Natynczyk assumed duties as a Squadron Commander at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario. In 1986, he commenced a five-year regimental tour in Petawawa, serving in several staff and squadron command appointments; this tour included six months of UN peacekeeping duties in Cyprus. On completion of Canadian Forces Command and Staff College, he served on the Army Staff in St Hubert Quebec.
In May 1994, LGen Natynczyk embarked upon a year-long tour with the United Nations in the Former Yugoslavia as Sector South-West Chief of Operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina within HQ 7 (UK) Armoured Brigade, then as the Chief of Land Operations, UNPROFOR HQ in Zagreb, Croatia. In June 1995 LGen Natynczyk was assigned to the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff within National Defence HQ in Ottawa. He then commanded his regiment for two years, leading the Dragoons during domestic operations in the Ottawa region during the 1998 Ice Storm. LGen Natynczyk returned to Bosnia in 1998 as the Canadian Contingent Commander. On his return to Ottawa in March 1999 he was appointed J3 Plans and Operations during the period of deployments to Kosovo, Bosnia, East Timor and Eritrea.
LGen Natynczyk attended the U.S. Army War College and was subsequently appointed Deputy Commanding General, III Corps and Fort Hood. In January 2004, he deployed with III Corps to Baghdad, Iraq, serving first as the Deputy Director of Strategy, Policy and Plans and subsequently as the Deputy Commanding General of the Multi-National Corps (Iraq). Upon his return to Canada he assumed command of the Land Force Doctrine and Training System. He was subsequently appointed Chief Transformation where he was responsible for implementation of the force restructuring and the enabling processes and policies.
LGen Natynczyk assumed the responsibilities of the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff on 28 June 2006.
Yes boys.. it'a a fellow soldier!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bless Captain Richard Leary - June 03, 2008

He is home. Our Hero is home.
Wednesday, June 03, 2008
It is with sadness that I announce that one of our Canadian soldiers was killed today at approximately 9:30 a.m., Kandahar time (0100Cnd). He was killed by direct fire when a joint Afghan-Canadian dismounted security patrol came under small arms fire from insurgents in the Panjwayi District.
Captain Richard Leary,
3 June 08
Captain Richard Steven Leary was killed on June 3, 2008 when he came under direct enemy fire during a patrol in the Panjwayi district. The incident occurred around 9:30 a.m. Kandahar time. Capt Leary was a member of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, based out of Shilo, Manitoba.

~Le Capitaine Richard (Steve) Leary est décédé le 3 juin 2008 lorsqu’une patrouille à pied à laquelle il participait a essuyé des tirs ennemis directs dans le district de Panjwayi. L’incident est survenu vers 9 h 30, heure de Kandahar. Le Capt Leary était un membre du 2nd Bataillon, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry basé à Shilo, au Manitoba.

Taliban militants killed a Canadian platoon commander in Afghanistan today (Tuesday, June 3, 2008) as he tried to guide his soldiers to safety, in an area of farmland west of Kandahar. Capt. Richard (Steve) Leary, 32, was leading Canadian and Afghan troops in a foot patrol in the Panjwaii district of Kandahar province when they were ambushed by small arms fire shortly after 9 a.m. local time. The soldiers returned fire, then repositioned under Leary's leadership in what became a half-hour-long battle. Close air support was called in and the insurgents were pushed back. Leary was struck at about 9:30 a.m., said Colonel Jamie Cade during a news conference. No other soldiers were hurt in the gunfire. "Captain Leary was what we in uniform are expected to be. Captain Leary was a soldier and Captain Leary was a leader," Cade said. "In his memory and the memory of those that have gone before him we remain steadfast in our resolve to bring peace and stability to the people of Afghanistan. He will be greatly missed by his military family." Leary was a platoon commander with 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based out of Shilo, Man. Originally from Brantford, Ont., he was on his first overseas mission. He leaves behind his wife Rachel, his parents Richard and Gail and his sister Brandi. His repatriation ceremony is tentatively scheduled for June 6. After being shot, Leary was airlifted to the medical facility at Kandahar Airfield where he was pronounced dead by a medical officer. "Every death is deeply painful to us, but it is a risk that we as members of the Canadian Armed Forces understand and assume as we work to bring peace and stability to a country that has been torn apart by war," Cade said. Senior army spokesman Maj. Jay Janzen said Leary's men are taking the loss with much difficulty. "When you lose a leader as effective as Capt. Leary, as personable, it is difficult, but we're just thinking about (his) family right now,'' he said. Defence Minister Peter MacKay, the Governor General, the prime minister and the opposition party leaders have all extended their condolences to Leary's family.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Capt Leary's family and friends both in Canada and in Afghanistan during this very difficult time. We are deeply saddened by the loss of Capt. Leary. In his memory, and in memory of those who have gone before, we will increase our support and resolve to bring peace and stability to the people of Afghanistan.

"Capt. Steve Leary (my cousin) was an amazing man. He truly was a hero. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends. Nobody should have to die this young but he died fighting for what he believed in. Peace." ~Chelsea Embry

If you wish to view or sign the guest book in Capt Leary's memory, please click here.
Soldier's Widow Says He was Her Best Friend Thursday, June 5, 2008
They were together for more than half their lives, having been a couple since high school, and were best friends.
Rachel Leary described him as a brave and dedicated man.
"He believed in what he was doing, and he was dedicated to all his guys," Leary said through tears, reading from a prepared statement at Canadian Forces Base Shilo.
For nearly two years, the couple had called Shilo home. Richard Leary was often called "Rich" by his colleagues on the base, a military spokeswoman said.
Whenever her husband was away, Leary said she always knew how much he cared.
"No matter where he was, whether he was training or ... I never doubted how much he loved or missed me," said Leary, 29.
"He was my very best friend, and a wonderful husband."
The Learys, who met in their hometown of Brantford, Ont., have been together since he was 16 and she was 14, Richard's aunt, Terry Careswell, told the Brantford Expositor on Tuesday.
They were to celebrate their sixth wedding anniversary in August, said Lori Truscott, a military spokeswoman based at Shilo.
As Leary read her statement, she was surrounded by soldiers and flanked by Wanda Watkins, the mother of Pte. Lane Watkins, a Manitoba soldier who was killed last summer in Afghanistan.
"I want every Canadian out there to know that every soldier has someone behind them who loves them and supports them and sacrifices for them," said Leary, her voice shaking.
Asking for privacy to deal with her grief and emotions, Leary did not take reporters' questions.
Richard Leary is also survived by his parents Richard and Gail, and his sister Brandi.
In Afghanistan, thousands of NATO soldiers attended a ramp ceremony Wednesday that marked Leary's final journey home.
A military ceremony is planned for Friday at CFB Trenton in Ontario.

Thursday, June 04, 2008- Military Family Says Goodbye
" ... Be gentle as we walk our brother home ..." Capt. Darren Persaud, battle group chaplain.
Master Cpl. Lizette Leblanc and Cpl. Jessie Veltri carry the casket of Capt. Richard (Steve) Leary at Kandahar Airfield on Wednesday, June 4, 2008. Photo Credit: CP

It is the slow march back to Canada. Or at least as far as a lost soldier's uniformed compatriots can take him – into the belly of a Hercules aircraft."Task Force Afghanistan: To your fallen comrade salute!" the base commander bellowed.And thousands snapped to attentionFive long columns of troops – from Canada, the United States, Holland, France, Romania, Australia, Denmark and Britain – bade a solemn farewell last night to Capt. Richard "Stevo" Leary, killed in a firefight in Panjwaii district Tuesday morning.The ramp ceremonies are always poignant, humbling and quietly overwhelming. There is such unnatural stillness in the tableau.With the soldiers assembled, marching in precision form to their places, the LAV hearse appeared on the edge of the Kandahar Airfield, flag-draped coffin protruding from the rear.The sun, just starting to set, cast slanting rays across the tarmac, silhouetting the turret gunner atop the vehicle.Gently, the casket was removed and placed on the shoulders of eight pallbearers, seven men and one female, arms clasped to brace the weight of their burden.In the front, Pte. Jessie Veltri struggled to contain his sobs but tears mixed with sweat as the bearer party approached the plane. At the back, Master Cpl. Jaison Levanen carried Leary's beret and badge and, behind him, Capt. Ludger Hacault piped a lament.The dead platoon commander's men, most of them, were still out in the area of operations, unable to attend the ceremony, though saluting their captain privately in their combat post last night."Rich Leary – Steve as he was known to his family – was a very stoic individual, very solid leader, extremely loyal and renowned for his loyalty to his troops," Lt.-Col. Dave Corbould told reporters afterward.It was always the mission and his men. They were always first, well before his own personal thoughts. He was a real inspiration to his troops."Leary died of gunshot wounds when his platoon – on a joint patrol mission with Afghan forces – was ambushed by insurgents, in a chronically restive region west of the main base.Leary, Second Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, graduated from officer training just two years ago but was apparently eager to serve in Afghanistan.He was at least the second officer struck down this past week – another, in a separate incident on Monday, was severely wounded by a roadside explosion during a dismounted patrol, and was flown to an American military hospital in Germany for further medical treatment.All this means abrupt adjustments at the platoon command level and younger officers promoted to lead."They're handling it well, as could be expected," said Corbould of Leary's troops. "As Capt. Leary was loyal to his men, they're loyal to his memory. And they're getting on with the mission."Capt. Darren Persaud, the battle group chaplain, gave a short but very moving eulogy for the fallen soldier."We stand at attention to honour the ultimate sacrifice of a son, husband and dear friend. His wish to serve his country by leading his troops into combat was one of his greatest desires. When he was informed that he was coming to Afghanistan, he could not have been happier."He loved his wife, he loved his work, and he loved his troops. His zeal for life was paralleled only by his fiery sense of humour, and a passion to lead. He was a soldier's leader and a great friend."In the eloquent prayer Persaud delivered afterwards, he spoke tenderly of "unfinished conversations", long nights to come full of questions, pain, longing, anger, confusion."Let us not despair," he counselled.Persaud ended with these words:"Capt. Leary, it is for you I eternally pray, dear brother. Rest in peace."


Our fallen soldier, Captain Richard (Steve) Leary, a member of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Shilo, Manitoba, is scheduled to return home to Canada tomorrow.

Where: 8 Wing Trenton, Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ontario.
When: Friday, June 6, 2008, 2 p.m.

Present to pay their respects will be the Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and other dignitaries.

Honour our fallen soldier and his family- wear your red, bring your flag... gather along the 401 and overpasses between Trenton and Toronto (our Highway of Heroes). He is coming home.

Repatriation Ceremony - CFB Trenton - Friday, June 6, 2008

The casket of Captain Richard Leary is loaded into a waiting hearse during his repatriation ceremony at CFB Trenton, in Trenton, Ont. on Friday June 6,

Captain Richard Leary's family members walk to a hearse carrying him at at Canadian Forces Base in Trenton. Photo credit: Fred Thornhill

A repatriation ceremony was held Friday afternoon to mark the return of the most recent Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan.
The plane carrying the body of Capt. Richard Steve Leary touched down at Canadian Forces Base Trenton - about 220 kilometres southwest of Ottawa - at 2 p.m., under a hazy sky and was greeted by family and other mourners.
Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier and his successor, Lt-Gen. Walter Natynczyk, who was named to the top job earlier in the day, attended the ceremony.
"It certainly seems supportive of the family and overall, the Canadian Forces, to have them both here on the tarmac," said Capt. Nicole Meszaros, public affairs officer at CFB Trenton.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay also attended the ceremony.
Leary's family approached his flag-draped coffin once it was loaded off the plane into a waiting hearse and had an "emotional" few moments, said Meszaros.
Members of the public were there to show their support and watched from outside the fence around the base.
"There were many, many flags at the fenceline," said Meszaros. She also expected supporters to be lining the stretch of Highway 401 to Toronto, dubbed the Highway of Heroes, where Leary's body was to be taken.
"I know that Canadians were coming out along the 401 to pay respect to the family," she added.
In the wake of his death, the 32 year old was praised as an effective and dedicated leader and earlier this week his wife, and high school sweetheart, Rachel told the media that Leary was "my very best friend and a wonderful husband." The pair grew up in Brantford, Ont.

Journey Along the Highway of Heroes

Maureen Campeau stood in the afternoon heat on an overpass near Brighton, Ont., with only a camouflage-coloured hat decorated in military pins and other paraphernalia to shelter her from the oppressive sun.
But her mind wasn't on the weather.
She was one of dozens of people waiting for the body of Capt. Richard (Steve) Leary to pass beneath. Leary was killed Tuesday during a firefight with Taliban militants in Afghanistan, and his body had been repatriated to Canadian soil only minutes ago at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, just down the road.
Campeau and the others, many dressed in red and clutching Canadian flags, were there to show support for Leary's family as they accompanied his body down Highway 401 - dubbed the Highway of Heroes for the 83 soldiers' bodies that made the journey previously - to Toronto, where it will be examined by a coroner.
Campeau, who is from Brighton, has three brothers-in-law in the Armed Forces, and she said she was "ashamed" this was only the second time she stood on the overpass to show her support.
"It's the only way you can say thank you," she said, her eyes filling with tears.
"When you lose someone close to you, it's nice to know that other people are there to support you. I will be here from now on. Hopefully there won't be another, but if there is, I will be here."
The hearse's arrival was heralded by a single black police car, its siren wailing. The overpass fell silent as people waved their flags or simply stood and stared, some with hands over their mouths.
Afterwards, Cindy Clitherow picked up her baby and took her four-year-old daughter by the hand. It was the first time she had come out to stand on the overpass.
"It's interesting to explain this to a four-year-old, but she understands what she can, and I think it's important that she's here," Clitherow said.
At CFB Trenton, several other supporters lined up outside the air base where the plane delivering Leary's body landed.
Jim Dixon of Belleville, Ont., has only missed four repatriation ceremonies out of the 84 that have been held, and he plans to keep on coming.
He doesn't have any family members in the military, but he believes it's important show support just the same.
"It means a lot to the family to see such a large turnout," Dixon said.
Colin Stillwell, a retired serviceman who spent 28 years in the Canadian Forces, said he's missed "less than six" repatriation ceremonies.
"It's paying respects to a fallen comrade, and it's also to show support to the family that the loss was not in vain and that we do appreciate the sacrifice that the soldier made," Stillwell said. The near 30C temperatures took a toll on military officers who surrounded the plane to salute Leary's return. One nearly collapsed and needed to be taken away in a wheelchair.
Meanwhile, members of Leary's family watched from a shaded area underneath a tent, several of them clutching red flowers.
After the casket was placed in the hearse, about six family members were ushered to the vehicle, where they embraced for several minutes.
The hearse then left for Leary's hometown of Brantford, where the family is expected to hold a private funeral service

Statement by the Minister of National Defence : The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, issued the following statement today on the death of a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan:

"Today we are united in our grief for Captain Richard (Steve) Leary who died in the line of duty in Afghanistan. To his family, friends and loved ones, we extend our deepest sympathies.Captain Leary and his fellow soldiers are affecting positive change in support of the United Nation-mandated, NATO-led mission in Afghanistan. Their bravery and sacrifice allows the Afghan people to rebuild their country after decades of turmoil. I join with Canadians, in respect and admiration, for the men and women in uniform who protect Canadians and promote the Canadian values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law."

Statement by Prime Minister Harper
"On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Captain Richard (Steve) Leary who died today in Afghanistan. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time. “Captain Leary was killed while engaged with insurgents during a joint security patrol in the Panjwayi District. He was making a difference, working alongside his fellow soldiers, to rebuild a war torn country. “The Afghan people have a right to freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. These are the values that we hold dear in Canada and these are values that our brave Canadian Forces’ members are working to promote in Afghanistan.“We honour Captain Leary’s sacrifice. His efforts will not be forgotten.”

125th Anniversaryof Dragoons and RCR

The public is invited to attend:
The 125th Anniversary Parade


Saturday, June 7th, 2008
9:00 a.m.
Parliament Hill

The parade will consist of two ceremonial guards of one hundred soldiers each. They will be parading in full ceremonial scarlet uniforms in front of the Parliament Buildings to recognize the 125 years of service to Canada during both peace and war.

Also parading on the Hill will be a Gun Troop from 2nd Regiment, the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery firing gun salutes with their 105mm cannons.

Music will be provided by:

the Canadian Forces Ceremonial Guard Band and

the 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment Pipes and Drums.
Featured before and during the parade will be a series of static displays, showcasing the vehicles and equipment used by both Regiments throughout their history. The parade will conclude around mid-day with a march-past of the Regiments, and a roll-past of the vehicles as they move east along Wellington Street and continue past the National War Memorial and conclude at the Cartier Square Drill Hall for a post-parade reception.
Congratulations Dragoons and RCR!

Enduring the Heat

Think of our troops currently serving overseas today as the temperatures have climbed to a balmy 44 degrees celcius today. (and remember all the equipment they carry and the uniform they wear- some sitting in a cozy warm vehicle.)
Bless our troops for all they do and endure.

Toronto Blue Jays Honour our Troops


Saturday, June 7, 2008


Rogers Centre, Toronto, ON

1:07 PM

Join the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre as they honour the Canadian Military with the 4th Annual Canadian Forces Day.
Let your Canadian Forces members know you appreciate their service and keep up their morale by attending this game. Tickets are located in the Field Level Bases, and are discounted to $40, with proceeds of each ticket being returned to the Military Family Resource Centre. To purchase discounted tickets and secure great seats for the game, please do not forget to input the promo code GP-MIA08. To purchase tickets online, click here. To purchase groups of 10+ or for more information, please call Paul Rabeau at 416-341-1670 or by e-mail

A BIG HUA to our Blue Jays!!

And don't forget to wear your red!
On behalf of military families: Thanks Jennifer for the heads up!