This is a sad day. A day when mothers and fathers and wives and husbands are wringing their hands waiting as news is delivered. It's a day when families await hoping that a car doesn't pull up to their home delivering devastating news that will turn their lives upside down. And given the time of year especially, today Canada has lost 5 of their family members. 4 soldiers and a journalist. My prayers are with all soldiers, their families, comrades and friends.
Five Canadians Died
Four Canadian soldiers and a Canadian journalist died in Afghanistan on Wednesday in the blast of an improvised explosive device.
Calgary Herald reporter Michelle Lang, 34, was on secondment to Canwest News Service and was travelling with a provincial reconstruction team in Kandahar City when the attack on their armoured vehicle occurred. She is the first Canadian journalist to die in Afghanistan since the Canadian military mission began there.
"On behalf of all the soldiers, airmen, sailors and special operators of Joint Task Force Afghanistan, I offer our sincere condolences to the families and friends of our fallen," said Brigadier-General Daniel Menard, Commander of Task Force Kandahar.
Four Canadian soldiers and one Canadian reporter embedded with Joint Task Force Afghanistan (JTF-Afg) were killed, while four other Canadian soldiers and one Canadian civilian official were injured in an IED incident in Kandahar province, on Wednesday December 30, 2009.
The incident occurred 4 km south of Kandahar City at approximately 4:00 p.m., Kandahar time, Wednesday afternoon as a result of an improvised explosive device attack on an armoured vehicle during a patrol.
Killed in action was Sergeant George Miok a member of 41 Combat Engineer Regiment, based in Edmonton, Alberta and serving with the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team.
Killed in action was Sergeant Kirk Taylor a member of 84 Independent Field Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery, based in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and serving with the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team.
Killed in action was Corporal Zachery McCormack a member of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, 4th Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, Alberta and serving with the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team.
Killed in action was Private Garrett William Chidley a member of the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Shilo, Manitoba and serving with the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team.
The names of the soldiers were not released till this time, as notification of next-of-kin was ongoing.
All of the injured personnel were evacuated to the Role 3 Multi-National Medical Facility at Kandahar Airfield. They are undergoing medical examination and treatment, and their names will not be released.
Michelle Lang - Canada's Reporter
Shown here, Calgary Herald reporter Michelle Lang, 34, collects a season's greeting from a Canadian soldier at Kandahar Airfield in this Dec. 12, 2009, photo. Lang was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan Dec. 30, 2009, while covering the war for the Canwest News Service. Photo credit: Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
It was Lang's first assignment in Afghanistan. She arrived in the country on Dec. 11 and was due to return to Calgary on Jan. 22. News of her death left a pall of shock and grief over the Herald newsroom.
"Michelle was an incredible person, and outstanding journalist," said Lorne Motley, Herald editor-in-chief. "She was kind-hearted, warm and always willing to give her all.
"When it came to journalism, Michelle was at the top of her craft . . . Her loss leaves a great hole in our family of journalists, whether they work at the Herald, Canwest or elsewhere.
"This is a devastating day, and our thoughts are with her family, her fiance and friends. We all knew, and loved, her."
Friend and Herald colleague Gwendolyn Richards said work was important to Lang, but nothing meant more to her than family and friends.
Richards recalled how, in the days before leaving for Afghanistan and busy planning for the trip, Lang threw together an impromptu birthday dinner for Richards to mark the day.
"She was very sweet and thoughtful," she said. "She made sloppy joes . . . and she felt bad that they weren't better. She wanted it to be a great birthday."
Lang was recently engaged and planned to marry this summer.
Provincial reconstruction team — or PRTs — are groups of civilians, government specialists and others who venture into the countryside with military escorts as they attempt to rebuild roads, dams, schools, hospitals and other elements of Afghanistan's battered physical, social, medical and political infrastructure.
"We are all devastated by the loss of Michelle and our thoughts right now are with her family and her fiance," said Scott Anderson, editor-in-chief of Canwest News Service. "Journalists need to — and do — put themselves at risk every day to report first-hand on important stories like Afghanistan. But that doesn't make this any easier."
Taliban Claims Responsibility Taliban Claims Attack That Killed 5 Canadians In Afghanistan The Wall Street Journal
The Taliban on Thursday claimed responsibility for a bomb attack in southern Afghanistan that killed five Canadians--four soldiers and a woman journalist.
"This work is done by us," Yusuf Ahmadi, a purported Taliban spokesman, said from an undisclosed location when asked about the incident. In my opinion, he should not hide like a chicken and let the CF deal with him! I know other Mothers who would like to deal with him also. So sickening. ~m.m.
The five Canadians were killed Tuesday when a roadside bomb exploded beneath their armored vehicle in the southeastern militant stronghold of Kandahar province.
If you would like to leave condolences, please enter them in the comment section and I shall transfer them below.
Alternately, if you would like to leave condolences for Michelle, they can be placed below or by clicking on this LINK
We have once again been hit with devastating news and cannot imagine a worse ending to the year. Four of our Canadian soldiers and Michelle Lang, a journalist with the Calgary Herald, were killed when their armoured vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. Four more soldiers and an official member of Canada's civilian personnel were also injured in this attack.
This new tragedy, like all those before it, is shocking. It reminds us of the underhanded, blind, daily violence facing our Canadian soldiers, journalists and humanitarian workers in Afghanistan, who are working alongside the local population already hard hit by decades of terror.
Our thoughts are with the families, the loved ones and the colleagues of the deceased. We also wish the injured a prompt recovery. Michaëlle Jean Governor General of Canada
My sincere condolences to those who have lost their loved ones today. ~Anonymous
President Karzai shares the grief and extends prayers and deepest condolences to families and friends of the victims and to the people of the United States and Canada and emphasizes that, “Your sons and daughters have lost their lives for protecting the Afghan people and the humanity against the threat of terrorism. Afghans will never forget your sacrifices.” The President also offers heartfelt condolences to the families and to the Canadian media community on the death of Michelle Lang, the Canadian journalist, who was among those killed in Kandahar.
"Your children sacrificed their lives for the people of Afghanistan and the threat of terrorism. The Afghans will not forget your sacrifice." ~ Hamid Karzai
May God comfort those with a broken heart. ~ Airman Mom
There are no words to express my sadness. They will not be forgotten. ~ Anonymous
Ramp Ceremony -Saying Goodbye in Afghanistan
A Canadian soldier says goodbye to a fallen comrade on New Year's Day before he and three comrades as well as journalist Michelle Lang of the Calgary Herald begin their 10,000 kilometre journey back to Canada. Photo Credit: Sgt. Gemma Bibby of the Royal Air Force, DND
Repatriation - They are Coming Home - 10,000 milesWear red, bring a flag, bring a wave - let's let the families know we support them as they travel this difficult path with their loved ones along the Highway of Heroes (Hwy 401 westbound from Trenton to Toronto) Please go to the overpasses. Please be safe. As well, prepare for fluctuations in times and dress warmly.
The repatriation of our soldiers is scheduled for Sunday, January 3rd, 2010.
The plane carrying our fallen soldiers and reporter is expected to land at Canadian Forces Base Trenton at 2 p.m. with the ceremony completion at approximately 2:45 p.m. It's expected to reach Cobourg around 3:15 p.m. and Whitby around 3:45 p.m. These times quite possibly may vary.
Update: Times are APPROXIMATE
After each flag-draped casket is carried off the plane and into a waiting hearse, the convoy will travel west along Hwy. 401 towards Toronto likely between 3:15 and 3:30 p.m.
The procession of five hearses followed by cars carrying the grieving families should come south down the Don Valley Parkway around 4:30 p.m. -- depending on traffic and weather -- before exiting onto Bloor St. and into the downtown. (the procession passed the Victoria Park Avenue Overpass at approximate 5:45 p.m.)
Toronto Police said the repatriation will move from Bloor St. across to Sherbourne St., go south to Wellesley St., west to Bay St. and then south to Grovesnor St. before turning into the coroner's office just before Yonge St.
It's estimated the convoy will make the last turn, at the Corner of the Courageous, outside the coroner's office at Yonge and Grenville Sts. around 5:15 p.m
A recommendation is that people dress for the weather as there may be delays in time frame.
On the Overpass - Heroes and Families in Our Hearts
It is five hours later and I am still shivering while I write this.
The wind blew with a bitterness while waiting with many others, soldiers, families of soldiers, friends, people - many people who drove distances on the icy roads to be here on the overpass on the Victoria Park Avenue overpass in Toronto on Sunday evening. The coldness quickly stung my fingers as I shiveringly held my camera. This was nothing compared to the pain the families must be enduring today. I had arrived at 4:30 p.m. with others holding Canadian and Support Our Troops flags of all sizes. They fluttered effortlessly in the wind. Ambulances and police cars parked at the side of the road with their blue and red lights flashing, announcing our presence on the overpass. Cars and trucks honked their many horns and flashed their headlights in support of our soldiers and in compassion for the families - letting us know that they were sharing the pain. With road conditions, traffic was slow and conjested. Not a minute would pass without the empathetic honking and the flash from passengers taking pictures from below.
Looking ahead, I saw the traffic in the middle lanes stop. No one. The highway was empty. Then coming around the bend were many flashing random blue and red lights - the police escort. "Here they come", a gentleman from Cambridge whispered beside me. It was quiet, very quiet except the siren. Following behind where the hearses - 5 long hearses glaring in the evening light. Canadian flags covering their caskets could be seen through their windows. They are home. I tried to take pictures, but my new camera lens wasn't cooperating - no, it wasn't my lens, it was the tears - the tears blurred my vision. They came easily, stinging my cheeks as they fell. Closely, behind the hearses where the families with Canadian and Support Flags flying out the passengers' windows. My heart hurt - I hope they see our support, our empathy, our love. The silence was broken with clapping, people on the overpass were clapping slowly and loudly with their gloves and mitts on as the soldiers and families came near. Then there was a flurry of many more police cruisers following behind as they made their final drive on the 401 - our Highway of Heroes. The clapping then stopped and people slowly turned and started walking away, heads hung low, some holding each other, some weeping, everyone quiet, but we all travelled the same path - the pathway of sympathy. Bless our soldiers, our reporter, their families, comrades, co-workers and friends here and in Afghanistan. Always in our memories and in our hearts. ~m.m.
(To the soldiers that shared a coffee with the Family support board members, the mom (me) and friend, I'd like to thank you. Please drop me a note at my email address firstname.lastname@example.org )