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Click picture for info on Battlefield Pilgrimage 2015


 

 

TRANSITIONS 2008

Deployed
161st Infantry

Word has been received from Sergeant Matt O'Boyle that soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment of the Washington Army National Guard are once again serving in Iraq and has promised an update on their recent activities for our website. The Calgary Highlanders have maintained a special relationship with 1/161 and wishes them the best in their current operational duties. More information on this unit is available here.

Celebrated
Soldier's Christmas Dinner/Kid's Christmas Party
13-14 December 2008

The Calgary Highlanders marked the end of the calendar year in traditional style with an all ranks Christmas dinner on the armouries floor; the junior ranks were served the traditional Yuletide meal by the officers, warrant officers and senior NCOs. The next day was the annual Kid's Christmas party hosted by the Ladies Auxiliary.

By tradition, the youngest soldier in the Regiment trades places with the Commanding Officer for the duration of the Dinner, and the senior soldier among the junior ranks does the same with the Regimental Sergeant Major. (Photos courtesy 2Lt Mills)

Not the best looking wait-staff a soldier dreams of, but the refreshments are always appreciated. (Photos courtesy 2Lt Mills)

Kyle Harder, Jett Fedoruk, Blake Wagg, and Emerson Kenny at the Christmas party, with special guest at right.
(Photos courtesy Darlene de Guzman-Tucker)

Commemorated
Remembrance Day
11 November 2008

While The Calgary Highlanders have traditionally sent small details to various events throughout southern Alberta on Remembrance Day, this year marked the first in recent memory the Regiment as a whole deviated from the usual practice of attending the civic ceremonies usually held at the Jubilee Auditorium. RSM Emmett Kelly coordinated the attendance of the entire unit, under commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Mike Vernon, to attend the service at the cenotaph which was extremely well-attended by the public this year. The Regiment has committed to making the Central Memorial Park cenotaph service its future Remembrance Day priority.

Lieutenant Colonel Vernon at the head of the Regiment. Pipe Major Michael Giles plays the Lament. RSM Emmett Kelly emcees.
Volunteers from the affiliate Cadet corps escorted the wreath layers. Laying a wreath on behalf of the War Amps. Crowds were large and supportive. Regimental Support Staff Warrant Officer Pat Tower, a decorated veteran of the war in Afghanistan, looks on.

Commemorated
Remembrance Day
November 2008

Captain Andrew Beauchamp was the keynote speaker at Queen Elizabeth High School’s Remembrance Day Ceremony on 7 November 2008.  2nd Lieutenant Gavin Mills is a teacher at Queen Elizabeth and is the lead teacher on his schools Remembrance Day Committee. 2Lt Mills wanted his students to have a more immediate experience with November 11th this year and was pleased when Captain Beauchamp accepted his invitation to speak.  Captain Beauchamp’s speech focused on the CF’s mission in Afghanistan, his own personal experiences while on tour, and an insightful commentary on remembrance and civic duty.  Mr. Mills, on behalf of the staff of Queen Elizabeth, would again like to thank Captain Beauchamp for the time he took to address his school of over 1200 students and to welcome him home.

2Lt Mills and Capt Beauchamp with students 2Lt Mills and Capt Beauchamp Captain Beauchamp

Visited
Sergeant Harold Marshall
September 2008

When Hollywood film-makers require a "small, elite" band of soldiers to fit a storyline, they usually create a reconnaissance unit to fill that role. Films such as Cross of Iron and Heartbreak Ridge depict the actions of these small groups of hand-picked, resourceful men who perform deeds out of proportion to their numbers, sometimes stretching believability. In The Calgary Highlanders in the Second World War, the Scout and Sniper Platoon actually existed, made famous by Ken Bell's photograph of Sergeant Harold Marshall in Belgium in October 1944. The battalion War Diary noted:

The Scout platoon came into the limelight when Lt. Bell of "Army News" came around to get pictures and a write-up about Calgary's Western Scouts. The photographers found Lt. G. Sellar, Sniper-Sgt. H. Marshall and Scout J. J. Levesque very photogenic...The entire Scout platoon had a group picture and in all, the Army photographers were very satisfied with their visit.

In September of this year, the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Vernon and Regimental Sergeant Major Emmett Kelly were pleased to renew ties with Sergeant Marshall, paying a visit to him and his wife Cathy in their home.

 

The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel D.G. MacLauchlan, speaks with scouts Corporal S. Kormendy and Sergeant Harold Marshall, Kapellen, Belgium, on 6 October 1944. Photo by Ken Bell.

Welcomed Home
Task Force 1-08
1 November 2008

Approximately 250 reservists marched from Mewata Armoury to City Hall through downtown Calgary on Saturday 1 November in a parade welcoming the soldiers of Task Force 1-08 home to Calgary. Over 50 Calgary Highlanders had been among the soldiers deployed to Afghanistan; all have returned safely to Canada. The event highlighted the fact that 20 percent of Canada's military force in Afghanistan is made up of reservists. The next group of about 150 Calgary soldiers will leave for Afghanistan in August of 2009.


Hundreds of Calgarians came to City Hall to show their support. CFCN News Photo.

Trained
Exercise RUSTY CLAYMORE
17-19 October 2008

"A" Company deployed to the field for a weekend of individual and section level training designed to improve low-level leadership and individual skills, with attention paid to section attacks, patrolling in urban areas, and realistic scenarios in a simulated Afghanistan village. The use of simunitions in a special close quarter battle training facility was welcome, and Regular Support Staff Warrant Officer Tower gave informed and interesting lectures on the Army's Gunfighter training, which stressed realistic personal weapons handling in combat situations. There were also hands-on demonstrations of night vision equipment, and realism in training was highlighted by the use of laser-gear to designate simulated casualties.

Photos below are thumbnailed, click to enlarge.

MCpl Forrest leads a section.

Making contact.

Debrief.

On the Line of Departure.

Fighting forward.

Cpl Hein gives covering fire.

Competed
Army Run
21 September 2008

The Calgary Highlanders sent a team to the First Army Run held in Ottawa on 21 September 2008; congratulations to Captain McReynolds, Warrant Officer Tower, 2nd Lieutenant McLellan, Master Corporal Lange and Corporal Beck who finished 11th in the Half Marathon.


2Lt McLellan, Cpl Beck, WO Tower - photo courtesy WO Tower

Message From Afghanistan
Why are there no last names in this article? Click here for information on Operational Security.
Sergeant Paul H.
29 September 2008

Well, it's over.

Cyprus was fun. I'm currently sitting in the lobby of the hotel waiting for the bus to take us to the airport to wait another two hours before getting onto the freedom bird home.

The tour was an experience that'll stick in my memory. The friendships I've made, the places I went. The country and the people. The gritty feeling when one steps outside of the safety of any camp. The heat and dust. The weight of kit. The constant reminder that life is fragile and the impressiveness of our equipment.

It's all over now. We are on our way home. I see members of the regiment here on my chalk, and on the chalks flanking mine. It was good to have so many of us on this tour. As I said in previous updates, we did a good job. I think almost every organization had at least one Highlander in it. All over the Canadian Area of Responsibility (AOR), Calgary Highlanders were there to do their part and apply the professionalism.

Dino and I are on the same chalk. We had a long workup, starting back in Nov 06 with the LAV gunner/crew commander course. Both of us had other jobs after that, but eventually we were given the chance to apply the skills from course within a LAV company. It was fun.

Everyone here at the decompression center said they had a good time. Some say there were some non-military guests who may not have enjoyed their time here with us,............

Time ticks down and anticipation rises about getting home to wherever that may be. For me, home is Calgary. My wife is excited. I'm excited. It's been a long time since I've seen the skyline of Calgary. We left when it was -45 (in Edmonton). We're coming back with the fading light of summer. Golfing may still be an option. We spent most of the tour looking for shade from the 50+ weather. This winter is going to suck! My blood has thinned from the heat. Now we get to come back to the reality of our home.
 
To all Highlanders who plan to go on future tours.

Take the time to prepare now. If its a summer tour, get in shape. Drink lots of water to give your body a chance to prepare. Do PT with extra weight. Find out as much as you can, from as many different people as you can. The knowledge will pay off in the end.
 
Keep the beer cold, the scotch plentiful and the warn the city we are coming home. (We did the city proud. The flag which the mayor gave to the members of the Provincial Reconstruction Team has been signed by all and will be returned to the city at a time in the future.)
 
"0, this is 43B, back in your location now, permission to close down"
"43b, this is ), close down now, out......"

Returned
The Calgary Sun reported the safe return of Corporal Bryan Rowlandson and Corporal Shawn McDermott from a seven-month tour in Afghanistan in their Sunday, 7 September 2008 edition.

It was an emotional homecoming from Afghanistan for two Calgary soldiers last night...greeted by family and friends with smiles, tears and hugs at the Calgary International Airport after returning from a seven-month mission. "It's kind of bittersweet," said Rowlandson, 23. His friend, Pte. Chad Horn, 21, of Calgary, and Cpls. Mike Seggie, 21, and Andrew Grenon, 23, were killed last Wednesday in a Taliban ambush in the Zhari district west of Kandahar...

"It's great to see family and friends, but at the same time my thoughts and prayers go out to the families of Chad, Andrew and Mike," said Rowlandson. "They were all in the same company as me -- all good friends. We had a really tight company." But Rowlandson said the...death toll in Afghanistan should not deter Canadians from the mission.

McDermott, 28, was also in the same company as the slain soldiers..."As hard as that is, that's part of our job -- we put ourselves in harm's way so other people don't have to." Rowlandson's mom, Ruth, said she's proud of her son and happy to have him home safe -- but her heart also goes out to the families who are struggling with grief. "It's a sad time and a happy time," said Ruth. "I'm just excited that my son is home safe."

Decorated
Sergeant Dave Melcher
Twenty-two years of service in the CF were recognized by the award of the first clasp to the Canadian Forces Decoration to Sergeant Dave Melcher on Wednesday, 3 September 2008 as the new training year commenced.

Promoted
Promotions were bestowed during a CO's Parade on Wednesday, 3 September 2008 as well at the unit's annual Arrival Assistance Group (AAG) marking the start of annual unit training on Saturday, 6 September 2008. Congratulations to:

Warrant Officer Chris Schmidt
Corporal T.A. Doris
Corporal C.G. Stafford

RSM Kelly, LCol Vernon, WO Schmidt.
Photo by WO DP Bailey

RSM Kelly, LCol Vernon, Sgt Melcher.
Photo by WO DP Bailey

Message from Afghanistan
Why are there no last names in this article? Click here for information on Operational Security.

Yet another update for all of you.

We have begun the process of thinning out kit and packing up UAB. The thought of completing this tour is on everyone's mind. We've had a busy time here in Afghanistan. Highlanders have been putting in good work and it's been noticed by all levels of command. As you no doubt have already seen, two of our own have been singled out for commendations at higher command levels.

For us here at KPRT, life rolls on with the steady planning of operations and the eventual turnover to the next rotation. We haven't let up on operational tempo at all. We still maintain personnel in several locations around the AOR. CIMIC still drives our lives and to some extent, so does the battle group operations. Force Protection company here has continued to keep up with the demand and Highlanders play roles in several capacities. Members of (one of the platoons) keep an ever watchful eye in two locations and we sleep safely at night because of them. They have the responsibility to keep the camp safe from "unwanted guests". I see them every time I go out the gate. They are vigilant as ever. I firmly believe they deserve a lot of credit for their work. Some people on this camp do not know the extent to which they go each and every day to ensure their safety. It's unfortunate that this is a reality. For myself and MCpl Dino A. LAV operations are still as busy as before. We still perform the duties as assigned from the beginning.

MCpl A. is maintaining the Highlander professionalism in the turret each time they roll out. He's been allowed out of his turret on occasion and I see him moving about in a dismounted role from time to time. He has shown he is a diverse soldier on several ops. Dino and I get to chit chat whenever we see each other at the other's FOB. He is well received by his regular force counter-parts. He has definitely made an impression.

For myself, all I can say is, it's been a busy tour. Not that was a surprise or false assumption. Our platoon has been in several situations where "cooler minds prevailed". The area where we operate is not the friendliest ISAF place on earth. Whenever we go out, you can see the "game faces" being put on. My experiences here have been interesting to say the least. My section is a tight knit group of regular force members. I'm sure in the beginning, there was some form  of apprehension towards a reserve section commander. I believe I've shown that it's not all bad. My learning curve was steep in the beginning. I hadn't worked with the LAV other than on course. When applied in an operational manner, it is truly an amazing piece of equipment. A true "life saver". The insurgents have a nick name for it. "The magician."

From time to time, I still get into to see our brothers in KAF. I try to stop by and see as many as possible. Talking to them, I hear their tour has been long too. They spend time between two different jobs. Busy, busy, busy. Lots to do and little time to do it in. Whenever I see a brother in my camp, it's like having a piece of home come to you. Warm handshakes and stories are always traded. Keeping up with everyone is a task in itself. I hear of Highlanders in the battle group through them. They have more of an opportunity to see them than I do. It's like trying to keep track of a needle in a stack of needles.

Our time will wind down. Replacements will fill in our spots. Information will be passed. Knowledge of one's area will benefit the new people. Bags will be packed up. Patrols will take us where we need to go. Planes will be boarded. Sleep will always be short. Relaxing times will be enjoyed. Excitement will build at seeing one's home again. Friendships will be promised. E-mail addresses will be exchanged. And a final wave will always be hard to do. We are almost done here, and Afghanistan will forever have the mark of a Calgary Highlander felt.
Sergeant Paul H.


Sergeant Chris T., Corporal P. and Master Corporal Rob J. working on an RG-31 prior to a patrol. Photo by Captain Peter B.

Recognized
Why are there no last names in this article? Click here for information on Operational Security.

A Calgary Highlander was awarded a Task Force Commander's Commendation in Afghanistan recently.


Left to right - the RSM of Task Force Afghanistan; Calgary Highlanders Corporal M*****, Brigadier General Thompson (Task Force Commander), General Natynczyk (Chief of Defence Staff), and Lieutenant General Gauthier (Commander of Canadian Expeditionary Force Command).

Promoted
Chief Warrant Officer Emmett Kelly

Congratulations to the Regimental Sergeant Major on his belated promotion to CWO.

Last Post
Master Corporal Josh Roberts
Condolences to the family, friends and comrades of former Calgary Highlander Josh Roberts who was killed during fighting in Zhari district west of Kandahar city on 9 August 2008. Master Corporal Roberts is warmly remembered by Master Corporal Dino Avelino, who joined the Calgary Highlanders in the late 1990s at the same time as Josh, and served together in the Regiment with him, later attending junior leadership training together in 2001. Master Corporal Roberts later moved to Saskatoon and served with The North Saskatchewan Regiment and was deployed with the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry when he was killed in action in Afghanistan.

 

Calgary Highlanders in Afghanistan Recognized
Why are there no last names in this article? Click here for information on Operational Security.

CEFCOM Commendation

From Captain Peter B.:

Attached is a photo of MCpl Cody M. from the unit (at left, below - webmaster) receiving the CEFCOM Commanders Commendation for actions here in theatre.  I will provide the Citation at a later date.

CEFCOM is Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, one of the new structures created under General Hillier's tenure as Chief of the Defence Staff, charged with overseeing all overseas deployed operations. The current CDS is shown at far right below.

CDS Coin

Warrant Officer Dave T. was awarded a CDS Coin during the recent visit of the Chief of the Defence Staff also. General Walter Natynczyk spent five days in Afghanistan talking to Canadian soldiers. He recently took over from General Rick Hillier.

   

Message from Afghanistan
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Just a quick e-mail to keep the unit updated.

My wife and I are on HLTA in Spain. We took a couple days in England and now are relaxing on the beaches and will take in a cruise shortly. I hope all unit members are enjoying their summers. Whether they are training or working, enjoy the sun and weather. (I'm assuming it is nice there.) I try not to watch the news, but my section is still there and my responsibilities are still a driving force. I know, I'm supposed to be relaxing, but what is anyone going to do?

I am looking forward to returning to the unit and passing on the knowledge I've gained while overseas. Take care and I'll see you all soon.
Sgt Paul H.

Spotted in Theatres
Passchendaele Trailer


 

As was reported on this website a year ago, actor Paul Gross will be portraying his own grandfather in the motion picture Passchendaele. A trailer for the film is now in theatres, as well as on the film's official website.

Movie Website

Wikipedia Article

Paul Gross' father, Michael Dunne, served as a Sergeant in the 10th Battalion, one of the predecessor units of the Calgary Highlanders, and whose Battle Honours the Calgary Highlanders perpetuate. Details about the film are available at the two links above.

Report from Afghanistan
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Highlanders!!!!!

You cannot go anywhere in this dusty country without running into a Calgary Highlander. We're everywhere. Granted, I haven't made the effort to visit each Forward Operating Base or strongpoint, but we're out there. It's a great thing to see a member of the regiment in far flung places and be able to have a connection immediately. We Highlanders are known by more than you'd think. There's been more than one occasion when I've been asked how many we have on this tour. It raises eyebrows. Thousands of kilometers have been driven, walked, patrolled, or crawled. I can honestly say, those who are here have done the regiment proud. Despite the heat of mid-day or the warmth during the dead of night, a Highlander is somewhere behind a weapon, doing their job and maintaining the stability. Whether it be from up north or down south, there is a Highlander standing proud. I love the fact that we are known by virtually everyone here. It says something about our dedication to the job and our professionalism.

For the few of us here in KPRT, it's been a busy tour so far. MCpl Dino A. and I are both keeping up with a high op tempo. Leave has kicked in and we're keeping flexible to the leave plan. The members from 4pl are keeping themselves as busy as possible. Their schedule is not light by any stretch of the imagination. They are maintaining personnel in two places and manage to run things smoothly. I see a regimental brother come through once in a while on a CLP and we get the chance to chat for a while before they're off on their task. If we do not have those few moments, the stories are logged for the next trip. It's almost like we're travellers passing on a road that is not used much. Gathering information from anyone who comes by. If a run to KAF is in the works then thats a treat. There's Tim Horton's on KAF!!!

"Large double-double, please,....well better make that two, I have a return trip to think about." I never thought I'd miss Timmy's coffee so much.

In my case, I get to see WO Paul R. as he has changed jobs and lives beside my second home out at the FOB. It's good to see him out there in the area. He is in good spirits and is enjoying his job thoroughly. I'd love to tell you all about the last few months in detail, but we must wait until we are all home and can share a beer. Until then, enjoy your summer.

If you are going on training, then give it your all.

If you are not, then relax (as much as possible) and enjoy the peace and quiet. Have a beer for the boys who cannot. We will be home soon enough.
Later
Sergeant Paul H.

Photos from Afghanistan
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Hi (Cpl Dorosh),

So I thought that I would send you an email with news from the battle group. Most of the Highlanders in the battle group are out and about in the Forward Operating Bases where communication is spotty at best so it is hard to send news. We are now on our way to HLTA so here is an email and some pictures. The Highlanders in my platoon are all doing well. We are being kept busy and learning a lot of new skills. We have been predominantly dismounted, doing light patrols, so we will all be bringing back many good, applicable skills to the unit. Living is rough out where we are, with most meals consisting of rations, no showers, and "personal ablutions" being done into "shitter bags". All that being said spirits and morale are high with all of the guys in my platoon. We are all looking forward to the completion of the tour and coming home to the unit. Attached are some pictures of the Highlanders in my section (Cpl R. and Cpl P.). The other guys in the platoon will be sending their pictures soon as well.

Cheers,
Cpl Phil X.

Celebrated
Regimental Family Day - Saturday 17 May 2008

The Regimental Family descended on the area behind Mewata Armouries on Saturday, May 17th for an afternoon of sports, games, displays, barbequed food, popcorn, cold drinks, and mostly, fun, as Calgary enjoyed a rare spell of seasonable Victoria Day weekend weather. While drunks were ripping up McLean Creek and the Waiparous area with ATVs, the Highlanders and associated cadet corps were enjoying the Pipes and Drums playing at Millenium Park, watching children get faces painted and run the mini-obstacle course, competing in sports events, browsing the wares of the combined Regimental Kit Shop and the Military Family Resource Centre stand, enjoying the heaps of donated barbeque food or the MFRC's popcorn machine, or just kicking back and talking to friends and old comrades.


The Pipes and Drums perform; Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Mike Vernon and Shelley Russell, wife of Sergeant Denny Russell.

Last Post

Corporal Michael Starker, Calgary Detachment, 15 (Edmonton) Medical Company

A messmate of the Junior Ranks Club has lost his life on active duty. Corporal Michael Starker, a reservist with the Calgary detachment of 15 Medical Company, was killed in action on 6 May 2008 in the Zharey District of Afghanistan. The Calgary Highlanders extend their deepest sympathies to the family, friends and comrades of Corporal Starker. In civilian life, Michael Starker was a paramedic with the City of Calgary Emergency Medical Services.

Starker had previously served with The Calgary Highlanders and later the Regular Force in both PPCLI and The Canadian Airborne Regiment. He is the fourth Calgarian to lose his life in the war in Afghanistan.

For Michael, Eternal Rest grant unto him and may light perpetual shine upon him. May he rest in peace.

Major the Reverend Jim Short
Deputy Joint Task Force Afghanistan Chaplain
Ramp Ceremony, 7 May 2008

Corporal Starker was 36 years of age; he began his military career by enlisting in The Calgary Highlanders in 1989.

Fabio Lacentra, currently serving with the Canadian Forces Medical Services and formerly the NCO in charge of the Calgary Highlanders Unit Medical Service was interviewed by the Canadian Press:

Ambush that killed Canadian unfolded steps from base
By Murray Brewster, THE CANADIAN PRESS

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - The ambush that took the life of Cpl. Michael Starker unfolded within sight of a heavily defended Canadian forward operating base, much to the horror and dismay of his fellow soldiers and a long-time friend.

Master Cpl. Fabio Lacentra, 40, had known Starker for 10 years, serving with him both in the reserves and as emergency medical technicians in Calgary.

The sharp crackle of the fierce exchange was the first indication to troops at Masum Ghar, about 35 kilometres west of Kandahar, that something was up. "We could see it from where we were; we could see the firefight going on," said Lacentra, a medic with the 15th Field Ambulance evacuation platoon.

He was standing in the command post when the base commander ran out and mounted one of the bastion's walls to get a view of what was going on.

"You could see his concern," Lacentra recalled in an interview Thursday with The Canadian Press.

The radio began to chatter.

There were wounded.

How bad?

When the answer came back, Lacentra turned to the soldiers beside him.

"I said: 'You know a gunshot wound is never a good thing."'

His training as an ambulance technician had kicked in.

"We knew it was Canadians and I guess I was, without even consciously doing it, was trying to prepare these guys. I just said that kind of gunshot wound doesn't end up with a good result."

At the time, Lacentra didn't know it was his friend, the guy with whom he had worked out at the gym every day during training in Edmonton, the guy whom he clearly looked up to as a paramedic, a soldier and a person of "amazing character and strength."

Starker, 36, was evacuated by helicopter to the NATO military hospital at Kandahar Airfield along with a second unidentified soldier, who was also wounded. Doctors pronounced Starker dead at the Role 3 treatment centre.

The ambush on Tuesday, the first shooting death of a Canadian soldier in direct combat with the enemy in almost 20 months, is still under investigation by military police.

It was very quiet that evening in the vehicle when Lacentra drove with other troops back to the airfield, where the majority of Canada's 2,500 troops in Afghanistan are stationed.

Once in a while, the cheerful Italian-immigrant to Canada, who possesses an easy smile, likes to sing in the car.

"So when we got just close to KAF actually one of the guys said: 'Hey Fabio why don't you sing us a song."'

He did, but his heart was only in it for a few minutes.

His mind was on Starker.

"I kind of knew it was him, but I hoped it was somebody else. Right? That's not a good thing to say," he added with tears beginning in the corners of his eyes.

"I didn't believe it was him because I know how well trained Mike is. He's an ex-sniper. I just kept thinking it was someone else because there was no way Mike would get shot that way."

Back inside the wire, he heard the news from a nurse at the Role 3 hospital.

It struck like a bolt of lightning.

He had seen Starker only last Saturday when they spent four hours together unloading medical supplies.

Since his friend's death, Lacentra has spent a lot of time thinking about the ambulance calls the two of them occasionally went on together in Calgary.

There was the time Lacentra had been doing his practicum and wanted to impress both his instructor and Starker, who was driving, by inserting an intravenous line in patient as they were rolling back to hospital. They hit a bump and Lacentra missed.

"And I looked up and said 'Thanks' and he's looking at me. I pictured it the other day, I could see him. He had his face . . . turned looking at me with a crook smile."

Lacentra got the lesson: Don't be cocky.

"That was the kind of thing he'd do; he wouldn't tell you, don't do this and he wouldn't purposely try to make you fail, but when it did happen, just the look, you could see it on his face. I should have known better."

Starker, a reservist and ex-paratrooper, had personal reasons for returning to Afghanistan, Lacentra said.

"He didn't have to be here, but he wanted to serve," he said.

Lacentra, who served as a peacekeeper in 1992 as the Balkans was coming apart at the seams, is by no means naive about the risks.

But the sudden brutality of the ambush that killed his friend is hard to reconcile with the faces of grateful, dirt poor Afghans who cheer on the Canadians when they pass.

"Watching the firefight changed my perspective" about the country, he said. "It made things more real."

"You see lots of kids, waving at you; happy and smiling; even adults. And you don't feel there's any real danger. You know what's happened. You hear about some of the stuff that's happened, but you don't feel it at that moment in time."

Promoted

The webmaster is catching up on a backlog of old photographs provided by Warrant Officer Bailey; congratulations go to Corporal Henwood and Corporal Venne, captured by the photographer's lens back in February being promoted by their Company Sergeant Major, Master Warrant Officer Woods.

Message to Afghanistan

In response to the birthday greetings from Afghanistan (see below), the following message goes out from former Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Warren Spaan:

Drew,

I was pleased to be forwarded your email by LCol Vernon concerning the upcoming celebration for St. Juliens 2008 in Afghanistan.  My job at NDHQ gives me access to many sources of info that allow me to keep up to speed on what's going on with the Calgary Highlanders deployed to Afghanistan as well as to track my son, Cpl Mik M., now serving with the EROC guys.  We have been very fortunate to have spoken with him by phone every Sat morning since he deployed...keep on the lookout for him as he goes by in the Cougar!  Lastly, the Regimental website kept up to date by Cpl Dorosh and others is just one more piece of the info picture.
 
Greetings to you, Drew and to all Calgary Highlanders deployed to JTF Afghanistan!!!  Please feel free to read this to the troops if you'd like: 

Highlanders, you are all doing a bang-up job and are to be commended for showing the commitment to take so much time away from your homes and families to undergo the long pre-deployment process leading to an intense deployment into theatre.  The commitment for Reservists, usually lasting more than a year, is testament to the dedication of all of you as Canadian soldiers.  This is the way it has always been for Calgary soldiers who through their actions at St. Julien Wood in 1915, and countless other times when Canada needed them, stepped up to the plate; just as all of you have done now.

 As your former CO, I take every opportunity around NDHQ to speak with pride about the level of commitment of the large number of Calgary Highlanders who are now deployed in Afghanistan.  I feel great pride in all you have accomplished and will follow your tour with keen interest.  My own experiences when serving with CSTC-A in Kabul in 2005, tell me that there are many difficult challenges ahead, but that each day of service does make a difference to the lives of the people of Afghanistan. 
 
Deidre and I wish you all the best in your tour...keep safe...watch out for each other...and our best wishes for a happy reunion with your loved ones!
 
AIRAGHARDT!!
 
Yours aye,

Warren
W.J. Spaan
Lieutenant Colonel
Western Hemisphere Operations
Strategic Joint Staff
(Webmaster's note - Lieutenant Colonel Spaan commanded the Regiment from 1999-2002)

Photos from Afghanistan
Why are there no last names in this article? Click here for information on Operational Security.

These are RG-31 vehicles being cleaned after a Combat Logistics Patrol. At left, Sergeant Chris T. works in the back of one of the Nyalas. Captain Peter B. Photo

Birthday Greetings from Afghanistan
Why are there no last names in this article? Click here for information on Operational Security.

The following message appeared in the unit lines in April:

Sir,

I just wanted to send a quick word of greeting from the Highlanders in ROTO 5 National Security Element for the occasion of the Regimental Birthday and St Julien. 
 
2 Force Protection Platoon has been on the ground for between 1 and 2 months now and is performing its task to a high standard.  We are however looking forward to rotating with our sister platoon onto our other task shortly.  While we've been here the Platoon has gained some valuable experience that we look forward to brining back to the regiment.  As the 26 of the 44 members of the Platoon are Highlanders we are trying to honour our regimental history while respecting the diversity within the platoon.  To that end as we have five Regiments represented in the platoon who celebrate birthdays on 1 April we'll be having our own Platoon birthday celebration.  Warrant Officer T. has gone to great lengths to organize a Platoon BBQ unfortunately, due to other goings on around KAF, we have been forced to celebrate on 31 March instead of 1 April. In other Platoon news we have been tasked to give one of our members to the OMLT.  Cpl D. will be leaving KAF for his new tasking in the coming days.
 
Captain B. is keeping very well in the CMC and seems very happy and engaged in his work.  He recently moved offices which has only served to increase his productivity.  I stopped by today to drop off a great paper weight to help decorate his new place.  Capt B. is also attempting to get Haggis for a St Julien BBQ on 20 April 2008.  I look forward to filling you in on how that goes.  If worst comes to worst we may have to buy a goat off the local economy and see what we can concoct.

In news outside the NSE I have seen both Captain P. and Captain B. from time to time around KAF.  Unfortunately the BG  keeps (Captain P.) under pretty tight wraps and he doesn't seem to get out very much.  Last time the WO saw him he was happily toiling away at his assigned task.  Capt B. has also stopped by my office from time to time to say hello and seems quite happy and engaged in her work. 

Sgt H. and MCpl A. stop by from time to time when they're around KAF.  Both are doing very well and seem very happy in their positions.
 
All in all things for our initial weeks have gone very well.  Happy Birthday, Happy St Js.  I look forward to returning to the unit sometime in the new training year.
 
Cheers,
 
Captain Drew B.

Checking In
Why are there no last names in this article? Click here for information on Operational Security.
Corporal Angela C.

Hello from KAF!

With the Calgary Highlanders scattered amongst the four winds of Afghanistan, us here at the Kandahar Airfield have pretty much settled in at full strength with all but a few guys on the ground.  My platoon, the National Support Element's Force Protection 2 Platoon, have officially taken over (an entrance) gate here on camp.  We took over from our sister platoon based out of Shiloh, with whom we will be alternating with between gate and CLPs (combat logistic patrols, or resupply convoys) for the duration of the tour.

But, for the next while, we are here, providing coordination and security for all of the incoming and outgoing foot and vehicle traffic coming through this entry point.  Coordination and security sort of oversimplify what is actually (...or...once in a while...) an interesting and dynamic task.  There are (large numbers of) Afghans coming onto, and then out of, KAF daily to work for various ISAF/OEF (International Security Assistance Force/Operation Enduring Freedom) military forces or civilian contractors.  Although generally friendly and knowledgeable about the ECP3 process, this is not always the most predictable group to deal with.  Beyond that, the vehicles and their cargo and drivers constantly create various situations. Ambulances, VIPs, narshwaar stashes (chewing tobacco mixed with herbs and often laced with drugs), etc. keep everyone busy and confronted with the fact that the situation here in Kandahar changes daily, and the effects of these developments are seen in every aspect of jobs that we, and everyone else, does. 

As far as everyone else goes, Calgary Highlanders (former and current) seem to be involved in almost every facet of Canadian operations here with members in, for example, National Security Element Force Protection and Headquarters, Kandahar close protection team, the OMLT and POMLT, PPCLI battle group, PSYOPS, C-IED team, and Provincial Reconstruction Team.  Whether in KAF (...probably at Tim Hortons), remote Forward Operating Bases, or far-off Police Sub-Stations, you are bound to run into a Highlander almost everywhere . 

As for pictures, I and others will be updating this site with more eventually, however good snapshots are so far for us few and far between.  As those of you who have been to KAF know, it isn't the most picturesque place you've ever been.  More than that, however, is the fact that the scale of the multinational effort here and the landscape's atmosphere is hard to capture or grasp in a photograph. 

In the meantime, we will keep everyone regularly informed as everyone settles in and everything heats up (both operationally and temperature-wise).  So, on behalf of all Calgary Highlanders here to all of those back home, and to all of our family, friends, and supporters, we wish you all well as I'm sure you do us. 

From KAF, until next time,

Cpl Angela C.

 

Checking In
Sergeant Paul H.
Why are there no last names in this article? Click here for information on Operational Security.

Hello from downtown Afghanistan!! Almost everyone is on the ground and taking responsibility for their respective tasks. For the most part the flights over were not bad.

 

I've begun my duties as a section commander and Master Corporal Dino A. has taken his job as a crew commander.The weather is somewhat different than Edmonton when we left (read -45 with wind chill to +15 today I think.) Hydration is the catchphrase for life in the dustbowl. We had a sandstorm the other day and nothing escaped the wrath of the sand. Dust on everything. I've never been in a storm like that.

 

Our area of responsibility is rather large and we are constantly busy. Our pace will only get busier as the summer goes on. I saw Sergeants T. and J. as well as Warrant Officers R. and T. and Captain B. in their camp during runs out there. They seem to be in good spirits. I saw Sergeant D. and Master Corporals J. and M. All Calgary Highlanders in this camp are well and performing their jobs. I'm busy enough to see them and get a few minutes to chit chat.

 

We'll keep our heads as high as common sense allows, our feet and arms tucked in from the vehicles and sights aligned for the next 6-8 months.

 

Later
Sgt H.

Met
Centennial Committee

A small note from behind the scenes: a regimental Centennial Committee has been meeting for many months now, with a view to co-ordinating plans for the Regiment's centennial year. The year 2010 promises to be an exciting one in the local military community; not only will The Calgary Highlanders celebrate their 100th birthday, but so will the The King's Own Calgary Regiment and 14 (Calgary) Service Battalion. Additionally, the Canadian Navy celebrates their centennial that year as well, nationwide. A variety of activities are being planned, details of which will be made available in the months to come.

Promoted
CO's Parade - 13 February 2008

Congratulations to Major Michael Owens for his promotion on tonight's brief CO's parade.

Reported in the Calgary Herald

What once were Canada's carefree youths prepare to fight for freedom
by Valerie Fortney, photo by Ted Rhodes, published Friday, January 18, 2008

They filter in by the hundreds, a growing wall of camouflage that could circle several city blocks. They drink Tim Hortons coffee by the gallon, they joke, slap one another's backs, shed the occasional tear and keep their toddlers happy by carrying them on their shoulders or swinging them around in circles.

When they are all assembled in this giant auditorium, more than 1,000 strong, they are an awesome sight to behold. And when the national anthem begins and they all stand at attention, their right arms raised in heartfelt salute, it's a kind of synchronistic choreography that is dazzling.

In fact, for us regular civvies present, as those of us not in the military are called, the entire sight is almost shocking in its depth and breadth as we stand watch over this historical day. We are left almost speechless in the humbling experience of being surrounded, as far as the eye can see, by such robustly healthy, young and clearly dedicated men and women in military uniforms.

We're at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, a veritable small city at the northern edge of this big metropolis. In the military fitness centre on this snowy Thursday afternoon, history is indeed being made as the latest major deployment of western-based troops being sent to Afghanistan are feted in a military-style pep rally.

Across the nation, 2,500 soldiers are preparing for an imminent tour of duty in Afghanistan. On this day, 115 Calgary-based reservists -- more than half of them members of the Calgary Highlanders, a local infantry reserve unit -- join 1,300 Edmonton-based soldiers, representing one of our city's biggest single military deployments in at least a half-century. They will depart for Kandahar in stages starting in February, replacing soldiers from the base at Valcartier, Que.

As I make my way through the crowd in search of Calgary soldiers, I'm again struck by something. Once you get past the intimidating camouflage, the tall frames and wide shoulders, you realize many of these people willing to put their lives on the line for this country are barely out of childhood.

Their faces are so fresh, in fact, that many still have glowing rosy cheeks, acne and a bravado-laden demeanour that puts an older adult instantly at ease.

"They need the help, I guess," says 21-year-old Trevor Lewis when I ask him why he's going to Afghanistan. How does he handle the potential for danger?

"Hey, I just don't worry about stuff."

Lewis, a graduate of Calgary's John Diefenbaker High School, says he joined the military because he wanted "an exciting job right out of high school."

He went to a job fair, looking to sign up as a firefighter. "But this military guy saw me first," he says with a laugh as his buddies tease him about being interviewed by a journalist.

His fellow Calgary reservist, 20-year-old Shawn Orme, shares the same sort of wide-eyed innocence. Orme says he grew up with the military in his blood, both grandfathers and an uncle who served telling him stories about their experiences.

"I'm confident," he says, before adding, "well, obviously I'm a little nervous."

The older reservists demonstrate a maturity more in line with their seniority.

"I'm feeling a mix of nervousness, excitement and impatience," says Steve Klein, a 36-year-old business analyst with EnCana who joined the reserves in 1990.

Klein says he enjoys the military for a variety of personal and professional reasons, not least of which is the challenge of helping the people of Afghanistan rebuild their shattered country.

"This is what the people of Canada say is important, to help bring stability to this country," he says. "We're going to help them, and I personally try not to dwell on what dangers we might face over there."

On this day, at least, those dangers seem very far away as people chow down on hotdogs and hamburgers, while little boys in crisp white shirts run through the crowd carrying miniature Canadian flags and two inflatable jump rooms are being erected as a crowd of excited children gather around.

But the men whose job it is to offer them words of encouragement remind them time and again of the importance -- and the danger -- of the overseas mission that awaits.

Brig.-Gen. Mark Skidmore tells them their tour of duty is their gift to Canada. "You are going to help people who need your strength, bravery and compassion."

Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, Canada's top army officer, tells them they are there to uphold Canada's belief in human rights: "basic rights for women, the innocent and the helpless."

But both aren't afraid to use lighter sports-style encouragement, referring to this group of soldiers as the "A-Team," and likening good soldiering to playing on a champion hockey team, "never likely to play the perfect enough game . . . but strong enough to dominate the opposition."

After nearly two hours of camaraderie and encouragement, I bump into Klein on his way out.

I ask him if this day of pep talks and recognition has given him a morale boost before he heads off for his tour of duty.

"To be honest, I think something like this is more for the families and the kids," he says. "Those of us who have been training for this, we're more than ready."

And by us, he means not only thirty-something oldtimers like him, but even those fresh-faced, just-out-of-childhood soldiers.

Reported to the Junior Ranks
10th Battalion Calgary Highlanders Association St. Julien Plan

Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Lynn Moffat, President of the regimental association, held a briefing for the junior ranks in the JR's Club on Wednesday 6 February to advise of the plans for this year's St. Julien's Day commemoration. Due to the training schedule, the weekend has been moved to April 5th/6th, with events and venue to be announced, but all ranks were assured that despite the absence of so many troops on deployment, there would definitely be some form of commemorative service and dinner. It was also revealed at the briefing that LCol Moffat has been donating his earning from private piping jobs - about $5000.00 - to the regimental association fund in the name of the junior ranks.

Last Post
Walter Eastwood Howard

Born February 12, 1920, passed away peacefully at the Intercare Chinook Hospice on Sunday, January 20, 2008 at the age of 87 years. He loved his family and is lovingly remembered by his wife of sixty-two years Peggy, and his daughters Lynda Howard, Kate Howard, Barbara (Norm) Denoon, and Joan (Dave) Sullivan and grandchildren, Michael and Ben Porter, Lisa, Karley, and Connor Denoon, and Tyler and Nicole Sullivan. A native of Calgary, AB, Walter was born on February 12, 1920. He served overseas as an officer in active combat with the Calgary Highlanders during the Second World War. He returned home to convalesce and article with his father H.E. Howard FCA. He received his CA in 1953, his FCA in 1983, the same year in which he retired as senior partner from KPMG accounting firm in Calgary. Walter was past chairman of the A.M.A., served on the executive for the John Howard Society, the board of Governors of Mount Royal College and Kirby College. He was past president of the Calgary branch of the Canadian Red Cross Society, and served on the executive of the Alberta division. Walter was a past member of the Gyro Club, and past president of the Al Azhar Temple Shriners Mounted Patrol with whom he rode for thirty years. He was Potentate of Al Azhar Temple in 1974, and made an honorary Inspector General 33 degree of the Canadian Imperial Council Scottish Rite in 1971. He was a member of the Royal Order of Scotland. Walter was a life-time member of Christ Church Elbow Park and served on the vestry as well as Rectors warden and was past commissioner of Calgary Branch and Canadian Pony Club. He spent his youth as an active member of the YMCA. He loved the out of doors, riding, fishing and was one of the first group of campers at YMCA Camp Chief Hector. He enjoyed a lifetime membership at the Glencoe Club and his retirement years as a member of the Bearspaw Golf and Country Club. Funeral Services will be held at Christ Church Elbow Park (3602 - 8 Street S.W.) on Friday, January 25, 2008 at 11:00 a.m. Forward condolences through www.mcinnisandholloway.com . In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial tributes be made directly to the Calgary YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, 101 - 3 Street S.W., Calgary, AB T2P 4G6. The family wishes to thank the staff of Unit 59 of the Rockyview General Hospital, the EMS team, and the staff at the Intercare Chinook Hospice for their compassion and kindness. In living memory of Walter Howard, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Park Memorial Chapel, 5008 ELBOW DRIVE S.W. Telephone: 403-243-8200.

Reported
Calgary Highlanders Deploying to Afghanistan

Calgary reservists ready for Afghanistan (from calgary.ctv.ca POSTED AT 6:23 PM Thursday, January 17, 2008)

In the coming weeks, 115 Calgary soldiers will be heading to Afghanistan.

Over half of the Calgary soldiers being deployed are from the Calgary Highlanders. This will be the largest deployment of highlanders since WWII.

“I try not to think about it, if something does happen in the end I guess we’ll deal with it at the time. But [we’re] trying to keep a positive attitude. He’s happy, so I’m happy,” says Derek Rowlandson whose brother, Brian, is about to deploy.

Brian Rowlandson, 22, was on his way to becoming an RCMP officer when he answered the call for Afghanistan.

His mother, Ruth, says learning more about the mission has helped her deal with the worry about her son.

“I found out about other things happening over there, how we’re helping people in Afghanistan, so I’m feeling more comfortable with that. But yeah, I’m scared,” says Ruth.


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