Monday, September 14, 2009

Lest we forget their sacrifice

Today, the Globe & Mail newspaper reprinted a press release by the Canadian Press' Bill Graveland in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  I repeat it here:
Last updated on Monday, Sep. 14, 2009 10:11AM EDT

The “bright, clear eyes” of another young Canadian soldier were closed forever Sunday as an improvised explosive device raised Canada's death toll in this bleak and unforgiving land to 130.

Private Patrick Lormand, 21 of the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment was killed and four others were injured in a roadside IED blast approximately 13 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city.

“He did not come here as a potential victim, he came here to help and help he did. He does not need to be told his efforts are futile for he could see positive results in the communities he was protecting,” said an emotional Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance, the commander of Task Force Kandahar.

“You need only look into those young, clear eyes to know that he was a good soul, who tried every day to do the right thing and saw in the results of his efforts a chance to succeed on a wider scale on behalf of Canadians and Afghans alike.”

An opinion column that ran in several Canadian newspapers from Colin Kenny, the chair of the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, criticized the Afghan mission as being ‘futile' and said, “It's time to retreat from Canada's Vietnam.”

“He took a fatal strike where an Afghan family might have. He lived in the community so they knew the families he was protecting and they saw him as just that – a protector,” said Brig.-Gen. Vance.

“Neither he nor his family benefit from uninformed opinions about what his goals were and the techniques he used to achieve them,” he added. “The thousands of young, clear, determined eyes that remain wide open here in Kandahar are working hard, every day to protect and stabilize the population – not an impossible mission as some might suggest.”

Pte. Lormand was on a patrol in the volatile Panjwaii district, where Canadian soldiers have been battling the Taliban for the past few years. The injured soldiers were treated at Kandahar Airfield for minor injuries and released.

The incident happened at 1 p.m. Kandahar time on Sunday. Journalists at Kandahar Airfield were informed almost immediately, but it was nearly a full 24 hours before the Canadian forces lifted the embargo.

Pte. Lormand, or “Lorm” as he was known to his friends, was well-liked and his good humour and happiness was credited with raising the morale of his section and his platoon. He had pride in his mission, said Brig.-Gen. Vance, and was dedicated to his peers and to his career as an infantryman. He is survived by his parents Jacques and Sylvie Lormand.

“His was a world where success is something won under the hardest of circumstances, where ideas are turned into action and where the Canadian forces seek to protect and stabilize,” said Brig.-Gen. Vance.

“Rest in peace brother Patrick.”

The latest incident happened one week after another powerful blast hit an armoured vehicle in the same area, killing 36-year-old Major Yannick Pepin and Corporal Jean-François Drouin, 31.

Both men were members of the 5 Combat Engineer Regiment and were stationed in Valcartier, Que.

Pte. Lormand is the 12th soldier killed during the current rotation.

A few days ago, the Chief of Canada's Defence Staff, General Walter Natynczyk had been urging soldiers here to be careful and not to let down their guard as their tour came to an end.

The IED has become the weapon of choice for the Taliban for more than two years. Seventy-one of the 130 Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan have died from IED strikes. Since April of 2007 – 62 of the 85 Canadian deaths were the result of improvised explosive devices, which are cheap and easy to make.

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