March 11, 2008
Contrasts always make good food for thought, don’t you think? I’m rather fond of them, myself. They just seem to make things clearer for my knuckle-dragging conservative mind.
Take Afghanistan, for instance. Yes, I know there’s a cornucopia of contrasts just waiting to be observed there but for now, I’m going to stick to just a couple of things.
Let’s start off with the Phederal Fiberal Party of CanadaÂ®. You know the Fiberals, right? They’re the ones that got us into Bush/Harper’s Warâ„¢ in the first place (don’t mention that to the loopy leftosphere, though; they just hate it when somebody pops their balloon). They got us in, but didn’t really mean it, and now… Well, now they’re even eating each other over it:
Former defence minister John McCallum, in particular, is disarmingly frank, speaking openly about how Canada ended up being stuck with the unenviable job of trying to bring security to the increasingly dangerous province of Kandahar. “We dithered, and so all the safe places were taken and we were left with Kandahar.”
Is it just me, or did McCallum just take a potshot at his old boss? Ah, well, Lieberals turning on each other; what are the odds?
Then we’ve got the people that are actually putting their lives on the line in that foreign land. Soldiers like Sergeant Patrick Tower, Sergeant Michael Denine, Master Corporal Collin Fitzgerald and Private Jason Lamont from the CAF, and more recently, this lad who’s serving with the 1st Battalion of the Royal Welsh:
Fusilier Damien Hields used his grenade machinegun to destroy seven Taliban positions before his ambushers realised he was their main threat. After peppering his vehicle with bullets, they hit the 24-year-old soldier. He had to be dragged off for treatment by his driver after he tried to continue fighting.
â€œFusilier Hields showed extraordinary courage under intense fire,â€ said Lieutenant-Colonel Huw James, his commanding officer. â€œI was astonished at the state of his vehicle. There were so many holes in it, it was like a teabag. The Taliban did everything in their power to neutralise [him] and Fusilier Hields was having none of it. His actions allowed his patrol to come out of the ambush in which they were outnumbered by three or four to one and probably saved a lot of lives.â€ […]
Hields was one of 28 Military Crosses announced last week. There were also five Conspicuous Gallantry Crosses, the second highest award after the Victoria Cross. […]
They were on their way back to Kandahar on June 3, driving south in a valley, when the Taliban attacked. One of the Land Rovers hit a landmine and was flipped upside down by the blast. â€œThere were Taliban dug in all around and they started hitting us with AK47s and mortars. We could not see where they were at first.â€
Hields followed the trail of RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenades coming towards him and started firing grenades one at a time, trying to home in. â€œThen I switched to automatic fire,â€ he said. A grenade machine gun has a box with 32 grenade rounds. â€œI emptied a box onto that position and you could see all the dust and smoke flying about where they hit.
â€œAfter that no fire came back from that position and I moved on to the next one. One or two rounds until I got onto the target, and switch to automatic and empty the box.â€
Realising that Hields was the main threat to them, the remaining Taliban fighters homed in on him with their RPG7s, Dushka heavy machineguns and Kalash-nikov rifles. Hields was undaunted and continued firing.
â€œI got through six boxes in about 15 minutes and we were winning the fight,â€ he said. â€œThey started it. We were going to finish it.â€
One of the Taliban rounds finally hit home as he was bending down to reload. â€œI felt a sharp punch in the kidneys on my right side,â€ he said. â€œIt knocked me into the bottom of the [Land-Rover]. I looked down and saw a hole in my body armour and a bit of blood.â€
Hields was dragged out of the Taliban fire and back about 20 yards where Lance-Corporal Carley Williams, the female medic attached to the troops, had dashed through enemy fire to set up a first aid position.
â€œThe lads were screaming at me to get into cover,â€ said Williams, 23, from Llanelli. They saw one round actually pass between my legs.â€ She was awarded the Joint Commandersâ€™ Commendation for her bravery.
Hields said: â€œIt turned out the bullet had smashed a rib and gone out of me again without touching any internal organs which was very lucky. It was just a flesh wound really.â€
He and the other wounded were evacuated by helicopter. After treatment and recuperation, Hields was back taking part in operations in Afghanistan in July. â€œObviously Iâ€™m extremely proud but Iâ€™ve got friends still recovering from injuries and itâ€™s them Iâ€™m more worried about.â€
Funny, the way some things can look when you put them next to each other, isn’t it?
August 23, 2007
Well, now… it seems that I can’t put up comments on ye ol’ “Dispatches from the Socialist Gulag” blog since I don’t have a Blogger account (don’t feel the need for one, either). But Mike put up a post the got under my fingernails and so, here’s my response.
And before some smartass out there even gets it into his head to bark at me: I did my bit for Queen and Country. I appreciate the sentiment, but those behind this idea… just … don’t … get it.
Call it something else. Something more honest.
Sorry, Mike, but I can’t get onboard with this one. The word “hero” gets bandied about far too much these days and it’s in danger of being reduced to meaninglessness.
These men weren’t heroes. Fred “Toppy” Topham was a hero. Ernest “Smokey” Smith was a hero. These men coming home now just died in action, that’s all. They weren’t heroes, they were SOLDIERS.
They were soldiers.
At what God damned time in our history did we arrive at the point where THAT wasn’t good enough?
I don’t go to the cenotaph to remember “heroes.” I go to honour soldiers.
Soldiers is what they are.
And that’s more than enough.
God bless them all.
November 21, 2006
No, I’m not talking about Iraq, or even Americans in general. Stuff that.
What I am talking about is that the House of Commons has voted unanimously in favour granting a full state funeral to the last surviving veteran of the Great War. This has been a while in the making, but definitely worth it. I don’t have time to go too deep into this yet, so here’s just a few links:
MPs support state funeral for last surviving WWI veteran
State funeral for last war vet wins approval
House approves state funeral for last WWI vet
Damned good news, no matter how you slice it. More will come later in the day.
November 7, 2006
There are, at the time of this writing, only three living veterans of the Great War still left alive in Canada. Each of these men, who so proudly stood in harm’s way for the good of their nation, are now no less than one hundred and five years old. The Dominion Institute has recently begun a campaign to call upon of Her Majesty’s Canadian Government to grant that the last surviving of these three should be granted the honour of a full State Funeral.
To encourage this, an online petition has been created, which reads as follows:
“We the undersigned feel enormous gratitude for the sacrifice made by all the Canadian Armed Forces through the ages in defence of this country and its values; acknowledge the very special nature of the sacrifice made by those who fought in the First World War in appalling conditions and with terrible loss of life; note that only three First World War veterans remain, and urge the Prime Minister that their sacrifice, and all of those they served with under arms from 1914-1918, be celebrated by offering a state funeral to the family of the last veteran of the First World War resident in Canada.”
The petition can be found here, and I most sincerely encourage everyone to put their name to it. You can also click here to voice your feelings to your local MP. Their goal is to reach 50,000 signatures by Rememberance Day of this year and the Dominion Institute will send the petition on behalf of its signatories directly
to the the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, on December 11, 2006.
I know that, traditionally, only Governors General or Prime Ministers are accorded the honour of a State funeral but the passing of our last veteran of the Great War is not the departure from the mortal coil of just another old soldier. It is the passing of an age and the final echo of a generation of men who willingly walked into the crucible that would, once and for all. forge Canada into a nation. More of 60,000 of them never returned.
We shall not see their like again.
If that isn’t worth putting your name to, what is?
October 27, 2006
I usually like to put my own opinion on just about everything, but sometimes, it’s better to shut up and let something speak for itself. The following is a press release found at newswire.ca detailing the deeds of four of our soldiers serving in the Afghan theatre and the honours that they have earned. I believe no further embelishment is required.
Attention News Editors:
Governor General announces the first-ever awarding of Military Valour Decorations
OTTAWA, Oct. 27 /CNW Telbec/ – Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, announced today the awarding of the first four Military Valour Decorations to members of the Canadian Forces who have displayed gallantry and devotion to duty in combat.
The recipients will be invited to receive their decoration from the Governor General at a presentation ceremony to be held at a later date.
Military Valour Decorations are national honours awarded to recognize acts of valour, self-sacrifice or devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy. They consist of the Victoria Cross, the Star of Military Valour and the Medal of Military Valour. This marks the first time that these decorations, which were created in 1993, have been awarded.
Note that the rank used in this document reflects the substantive rank held by the member at the time of the incident.
Star of Military Valour
Name Current posting and hometown
Sergeant Patrick Tower, S.M.V, C.D. Edmonton, Alta., and Victoria, B.C.
Medal of Military Valour
Name Current posting and hometown
Sergeant Michael Thomas Victor Edmonton, Alta.
Denine, M.M.V., C.D.
Master Corporal Collin Ryan Shilo, Man., and Morrisburg, Ont.
Private Jason Lamont, M.M.V. Edmonton, Alta., and Greenwood, N.S.
The citations for the recipients (Annex A), as well as additional
information on the Military Valour Decorations (Annex B) are attached.
Sergeant Patrick Tower, S.M.V., C.D.
Edmonton, Alberta, and Victoria, British Columbia
Star of Military Valour
Sergeant Tower is recognized for valiant actions taken on August 3, 2006, in the Pashmul region of Afghanistan. Following an enemy strike against an outlying friendly position that resulted in numerous casualties, Sergeant Tower assembled the platoon medic and a third soldier and led them across 150 metres of open terrain, under heavy enemy fire, to render assistance. On learning that the acting platoon commander had perished, Sergeant Tower assumed command and led the successful extraction of the force under continuous small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire. Sergeant Tower's courage and selfless devotion to duty contributed directly to the survival of the remaining platoon members.
Sergeant Michael Thomas Victor Denine, M.M.V., C.D.
Medal of Military Valour
Sergeant Denine deployed with 8 Platoon, C Company, 1 PPCLI during Operation ARCHER in Afghanistan. On May 17, 2006, while sustaining concentrated rocket-propelled grenade, machine gun and small arms fire, the main cannon and the machine gun on his light armoured vehicle malfunctioned. Under intense enemy fire, he recognized the immediate need to suppress the enemy fire and exited the air sentry hatch to man the pintle-mounted machine gun. Completely exposed to enemy fire, he laid down a high volume of suppressive fire, forcing the enemy to withdraw. Sergeant Denine's valiant action ensured mission success and likely saved the lives of his crew.
Master Corporal Collin Ryan Fitzgerald, M.M.V.
Shilo, Manitoba, and Morrisburg, Ontario
Medal of Military Valour
Master Corporal Fitzgerald deployed with 5 Platoon, B Company, 1 PPCLI Battle Group in Afghanistan. He is recognized for outstanding selfless and valiant actions carried out on May 24, 2006, during an ongoing enemy ambush involving intense, accurate enemy fire. Master Corporal Fitzgerald repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire by entering and re-entering a burning platoon vehicle and successfully driving it off the roadway, permitting the remaining vehicles trapped in the enemy zone to break free. Master Corporal Fitzgerald's courageous and completely selfless actions were instrumental to his platoon's successful egress and undoubtedly contributed to saving the lives of his fellow platoon members.
Private Jason Lamont, M.M.V.
Edmonton, Alberta, and Greenwood, Nova Scotia
Medal of Military Valour
Private Lamont deployed with the Health Support Services Company, 1 PPCLI Battle Group during Operation ARCHER. On July 13, 2006, an element of the reconnaissance platoon came under heavy enemy fire from a compound located in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, and was isolated from the rest of the platoon. During the firefight, another soldier was shot while attempting to withdraw back to the firing line and was unable to continue. Without regard for his personal safety, Private Lamont, under concentrated enemy fire and with no organized suppression by friendly forces, sprinted through open terrain to administer first aid. Private Lamont's actions demonstrated tremendous courage, selflessness and devotion to duty.
The three Military Valour Decorations, namely the Victoria Cross, the Star of Military Valour and the Medal of Military Valour, were created by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, on January 1, 1993. The Decorations may be awarded posthumously.
The Victoria Cross is awarded for the most conspicuous bravery, a daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty, in the presence of the enemy.
The Star of Military Valour is awarded for distinguished and valiant service in the presence of the enemy.
The Medal of Military Valour is awarded for an act of valour or devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.
Anyone can propose a nomination for the Military Valour Decorations. If a member of our Canadian Forces meets the criteria, submission will be made through the member’s chain of command for consideration by the Military Valour Decorations Advisory Committee, and the Governor General. For all three Military Valour Decorations, recipients must be a member of the Canadian Forces or a member of an allied armed force that is serving with, or in conjunction with, the Canadian Forces, on or after January 1, 1993.
Shortly after the beginning of Canadian involvement in Afghanistan, it was established that the basic conditions for the awarding of the Decorations were met. The gallant actions of Canadian Forces members in the face of increased hostilities in recent months have provided the occasion to award them.
For further information: Media information: Lucie Brosseau, Rideau Hall Press Office, (613) 998-0287; Media Liaison Office: Department of National Defence, (613) 996-2353 or (613) 996-2354; Public information: Chancellery of Honours, 1-800-465-6890
May 12, 2006
Okay, I screwed up. I admit it. For some time now, I’ve been trumpeting on the net about how Canadian snipers are the best shots in the world. I didn’t get that part wrong, but I did flub the details; I told everyone that would listen that in March of ’02, during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan’s Shahikot Valley, MCpl Arron Perry (hailing from Moncton and serving with 3 PPCLI) had set the record for the longest combat kill in history by taking out an enemy at a range of 2430m, beating the old record of 2250m held by USMC sniping legend Carlos Hathcock since the Vietnam war. I got it wrong.
Perry did set a record in Afghanistan, but it was for a kill from 2310m away, beating Hathcock’s record by 60m. Some days later, Cpl Robert Furlong (a son of the Rock also serving in 3 PPCLI) scored the 2430m kill. Those who want to know more can check out the May 15 issue of MacLean’s for more details. It’s a pretty good article that details not only their acomplishments in the field but also the shafting that they got when it was all done (also known as The Great Who-Pooped-On-The-Scumbag Bruhaha).
Canada had two sniper teams in the Shahikot Valley that earned the US Bronze Star, the highest award the American military can bestow upon a non-American soldier. The men on those teams were MCpl Graham Ragsdale, MCpl Perry and Cpl Dennis Eason on one team and Cpl Furlong, MCpl Tim McMeekin and American Sgt Zevon Durham on the other.