Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime Oct. 27, 2008)

A Policemanís Son Goes To War

By John Grywinski

 

 

My ex-police partner Don Kirkland, now retired, had served in the early 70's with the Canadian Armed Forces as a Peace Keeper in Cypress. A few years back, his 18-year old son Glen decided he wanted to be a bartender. I had told Don that if Glen was sincere and really was interested in being a bartender he ought to take a Bartender course, get his Provincial ticket and the Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood Pub, my families business, would hire him.

So low and behold a few months later, I got a phone call from Glen, he had taken the course, had his ticket and was looking for a job as a bartender. Glen was hired on his 19th birthday. Fast-forward three years and young Glen is an awesome bartender that the patrons, staff and locals love. But Glen is restless, he is seriously thinking about being a police officer like his dad but first he has a greater calling to serve his country so he joins the Canadian Armed Forces just like his father, grandfathers and great-grandfather before him.

 

He joins his dadís regiment, the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry - PPCLI and goes to Shilo Manitoba for a yearís training. He finishes top of his class and is deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan.

On September 03rd 2008 with only a week left to go in his tour Glen was with his squad, patrolling in a light armoured vehicle (LAV). He hates to drive the LAV but on this day he is the driver. His squad mates often laughed at him since he always wore his helmet in the LAV as he was on this particular day, this would prove to save his life. 

Without warning the LAV took a direct hit from an enemy mortar and the explosion cracked Glenís helmet into three pieces, killed the two soldiers in the back and fatally wounded the soldier beside him in the front. 

Glen remembers coming to after being knocked out. He couldnít hear anything due to the ringing in his ears and both hands as well as the back of his neck were on fire. The inside of the LAV was burning and he had to get out. He looked over at his wounded partner and realized he had to save them both. He kicked open his door, grabbed his squad mate and dragged him out. He then quickly put out the flames on his hands and neck and returned fire with his machine gun.

Wounded, alone and taking enemy gunfire he took cover and continued to return fire until help arrived shortly after but it was too late to save his friend who died from his wounds.

I saw Glen with Don a month later back home in Langley recovering and to say it was emotional was an understatement. It was great to see my friend alive but now this young, good looking; vibrant 24-year-old man possessed a mature look and a persona far beyond his years, he had been and seen things that only a war could do.

Glen told me stories that Hollywood producers would like to make into movies.

He told me about the places he patrolled and about the Afghani people who were grateful to have the Canadians there helping them. As well, he spoke of theenemies that were literally around every corner and he said they were shot at daily.

He told me that Canadians at home just didnít know the half of it. He lost three of his best friends on that day but many others had lost limbs and suffered other severe wounds in combat. I could only shudder as I heard this young manís stories.

It was tradition that when Glen went on patrol, he always took his Vancouver Canucks Flag tied somewhere to him. This flag had all the playersí signatures from the Ď07-08 team. During the firefight, the flag was burned and torn up from the explosion. On the first night of the Ď08-09 NHL season, Glen was honoured as a guest of the Canucks at GM Place. He met the players and was presented with a new Canucksí autographed flag.

Glen is slowly healing and has a lot of rehab to go through. He will never get that moment back in time and he will never be able to bring his buddies back. He now shows and wears the scars of war and has lost a percentage of his hearing. Sadly, due to his injuries his dream of becoming a police officer like his dad is no longer attainable.

Glen comes from strong stock and I know that behind those piercing blue eyes and broad shoulders he will do well in whatever endeavors he pursues. To me, he exemplifies what being Canadian is. Like many young Canadianís in the Armed Forces he has sacrificed on behalf of our country and in return received very little. I am glad that I know Glen. He is my friend and my hero.

So on this Remembrance Day, November 11th when you see the red poppy remember Glen and his three friends killed that day, Cpl. Andrew Grenon, 23, Cpl. Mike Seggie, 21, and Pte. Chad Horn, 21 and all the other young Canadians who have served and sacrificed not only in Afghanistan but all wars. Freedom isnít free!

 

 

John Grywinski is a S/Sgt. with the Vancouver Police Service.

           

 Andrew (Drew) Grenon           Mike Seggie                   Chad Horn                        Ramp Ceremony

Fallen soldiers on their way home

Scott Deveau ,  CanWest News Service

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Members of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry gathered to bid farewell to three of their fallen brethren Thursday night at a solemn sunset ceremony at Kandahar Air Field.

The flag-draped caskets of Cpl. Andrew Grenon, 23, Cpl. Mike Seggie, 21, and Pte. Chad Horn, 21, were carried by their fellow soldiers during the ramp ceremony, an event that's becoming all too familiar for those Canadians stationed here in Afghanistan.

All three men were members of the Second Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry from Shilo, Man.

Their deaths bring the total number of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2002 to 96.

Among the more than 2,000 Canadian and coalition troops gathered at the ramp ceremony was Pte. Glen Kirkland, who fought alongside the men in their final moments during the vicious firefight in the Zhari District of Kandahar early Wednesday morning.

Kirkland was among the five other soldiers wounded in the attack, and attended Thursday's ceremony in a wheelchair. Three others, who were also wounded in the attack, were airlifted to hospital in Germany earlier in the day.

As proof of the emotional bond that has formed between the Patricia's, Kirkland struggled stiffly to get to his feet while Amazing Grace was played by pipers in the background. He saluted his fellow soldiers one last time as their coffins were loaded into the back of the Hercules that would carry them home to Canada.

"In the Princess Patricia's, you will find 'no greater friend, and no worse enemy,' " said the battle group chaplain Capt. Darren Persaud.

"These three young men embodied that motto. Each one of them knew that the most important people in a battle were those on your left and on your right."

The ceremony was made all the more difficult by the fact the fallen soldiers were meant to be heading home in a different manner in the weeks ahead as they finished their tour in Kandahar, where most of the 2,500 Canadian troops are stationed.

"It always seems a bit more tragic as you come near the end," said battle group commander Lt.-Col. Dave Corbould. "There's no doubt about that."

Corbould said there was a tremendous sense of loss amongst the battle group and task force as a result of the men's deaths.

He said Seggie would be remembered for his sense of humour and general love of life; Grenon for his sense of compassion and duty; and Horn, "one of the best gunners around," for his professionalism and desire for perfection.

The Canadian Forces have remained tight-lipped about the details of the attack by insurgents, but are adamant no improvised explosive devices were used, despite Taliban claims to the contrary.

What is certain is that a heavily armed group of insurgents directly engaged the Canadians in a firefight that claimed the soldiers' lives.

The military won't say what sort of weapon was used by the insurgents in the attack to disable the soldiers' vehicle, but said it was nothing they hadn't seen before.

Nevertheless, Corbould commended the forces for putting up a good fight. 

"The platoon quickly grabbed the initiative, immediately won the firefight, took care of its casualties, got them evacuated to a proper medical facility - all as they had been trained," he said.

"There's no doubt corporals Grenon and Seggie and Pte. Horn were looking down at them with pride, knowing full well that they were doing what they were supposed to be doing."

Meanwhile, several soldiers gathered Thursday to share stories of their fallen comrades.

"Mike (Seggie) said he wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else. He would have wanted to be right there in that firefight," said Pte. Cameron Skrypnyk, who has known Seggie for five years.

"The last time I saw him, he had a smile on his face. . . . He never seemed down on himself or the situation. He always had a smile on his face and every new day was a good one for him."

Funeral arrangements for the fallen soldiers are underway.

With files from Meghan Hurley, Winnipeg Free Press

   

Why We Fight

I've often asked myself why we are here. Why my government actually agreed to send troops to this God-forsaken place. There are no natural resources. No oil, gold, or silver. Just people.

People who have been at war for the last 40 plus years. People who want nothing more than their children to be safe. People who will do anything for money; even give their own life.

I look into the eyes of these people. I see hate, destruction and depression. I see love, warmth, kindness and appreciation.

Why do we fight?

For in this country, there are monsters. Monsters we could easily fight on a different battlefield, at a different time. Monsters that could easily take the fight to us.

Surrounding these mud walls and huts is a country in turmoil. A country that is unable to rebuild itself. A country that cannot guarantee a bright future for its youth.

Why do we fight?

Because, if we don't fight today, on THIS battlefield, then our children will be forced to face these monsters on our own battlefield.

I fight because I'm a soldier.

I fight because I'm ordered.

I fight, so my children won't have to.

by Andrew Grenon  Nov. 2006

 

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