By Lucie Roy
Morinville – The Morinville Legion will take part in the nation-wide Afghanistan Veterans Appreciation Day on August 21. The event is to demonstrate the gratitude of Morinville and District to the serving men, women and their families, for their dedication during the Afghanistan combat mission. It will be a day to remember those who have fallen, thank those who have returned and to celebrate how proud they and their families have made us to be Canadian.
Afghanistan veterans and their families will be special guests and the veterans will receive a gift from Dominion Command. Since the start of the Canadian activities in Afghanistan, 157 Canadian soldiers have lost their lives, as well as a Canadian diplomat, two aid workers and a Canadian journalist. There were eighteen casualties from Alberta, the closest to home was Master Corporal Erin Melvin Doyle of Legal, who died on August 11, 2008 at the age of 32.Doyle was a member of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry 3rd Battalion based in Edmonton. He died in Afghanistan after insurgents attacked a remote outpost in the volatile Panjwa’i district. Doyle was on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. Other casualties from Alberta included one from Waskatenau, one from Grande Prairie, Whitecourt and Edson, seven from Calgary and six from Edmonton.
One of the displays at the event will be information on the Afghanistan Repatriation Memorial Fund. This project is not a government initiative but funded by Canadians honouring Canadian soldiers. To be built on the Bay of Quinte near Canadian Forces Base Trenton, the memorial will not be far from where repatriation ceremonies occur and at the start of the fallen soldier’s journey along the Highway of Heroes, from Trenton to Toronto. The Monument is in a low walled area with two large granite maple leafs- one in red granite inscribed with the Canadian Forces emblem, Provincial and Territorial shields. The other leaf is in black granite etched to depict a family’s loss with a solitary soldier in black granite depicting a fallen comrade and contains the names of those who have died in the conflict. This is a great tribute to those who served our country. The plan is to have the $1.5 million project completed by the spring of 2012.
Canada was one of 41 countries participating in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a NATO-led formation that operated in Afghanistan under the authority of the United Nations. The Canadian Forces contribution to ISAF was conducted under Operation Athena. ISAF was created in 2001, after the fall of the Taliban regime, and became a NATO mission in August 2003.Combat operations under Operation Athena ended on 07 July 2011.
Roto 11 of Joint Task Force Afghanistan is the Mission Transition Task Force responsible for wrapping up all aspects of the Canadian mission, i.e. packing up vehicles equipment and supplies. Operation Athena will be formally concluded at the end of December 2011.