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TRANSITIONS 2006

Visited
Sandhurst - December 2006

Captain Peter J. Boyle, the Company 2 i/c of Headquarters Company, was invited to attend the graduation of Prince William from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. In addition to photos of the parade, Captain Boyle was able to photograph the Book of Remembrance in the Academy's Chapel. Every Commonwealth officer killed in action during the Second World War is listed in the book; the Calgary Highlanders' page was photographed by Captain Boyle.

Officer Cadet William Arthur Philip Louis Wales, as Prince William is officially known, was Commissioned into The Blue and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons) to serve as Cornet Wales with his Regiment at Combermere Barracks near Windsor Castle.

 

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(L to R) Capt Peter Boyle (The Calgary Highlanders), LT Brian Pitkin (32 MP PL), Capt Samuel Billich (The Queen's York Rangers) attending a reception after the parade at the Officer's Mess.

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Reflected
Men's Christmas Dinner - 16 December 2006

After the Battle of the Scheldt in 1944, The Calgary Highlanders went into static positions in the Nijmegen Salient.  The annual tradition of turkey dinner provided by the Honorary Colonel was maintained even in the forward line.

Captain Bill Lyster, shown in the steel helmet at right eating Christmas dinner, was a company commander. If his face appears grim, it is no doubt because he spent time on December 25th writing to the parents of Private Austin Nichols Yeoman, one of the soldiers in his company who had been killed the day before. "I remember sitting down and writing a letter to Mr. Yeoman...I told him what a brave son he had and all this sort of stuff and I didn't even know the lad. That was our job."

Yeoman was 21 years of age when he was killed and lies in the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, Holland in Grave II. C. 4.

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In 2006, the Regiment's annual Christmas traditions were carried on, and the merrymaking was mixed with a pause to remember; past sacrifices and a toast to Fallen Comrades, as well as reflection on a long year of training and operational taskings.   In the words of Major Mike Vernon, representing the Commanding Officer, who thanked all ranks for another year of hard effort,  "Thanks be to God for returning all our soldiers home safe from Afghanistan."  Some 26 members of the Regiment served overseas in the war zone in 2006. Private Adam Wanvig was seen to wear his solitary badge of distinction - the Wound Stripe signifying injury in battle. This distinction traces its history back to the First World War, and though thousands of men of The Calgary Highlanders and its predecessor battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force have worn it, Private Wanvig is the only currently serving member of the Regiment entitled to wear this sombre mark. Approximately 180 Canadian soldiers have been wounded in Afghanistan in total in 2006.

The tradition of Officers, Warrant Officers, and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers serving a meal to the troops was carried out; this year's dinner was the best attended event in decades, and had to be located to the floor of the Armouries to accommodate over 130 soldiers.  More details on awards and promotions will be posted along with photographs as they become available. Thank you to Corporal Matt Chinn for volunteering to photograph the event.

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Last Post
RSM David Boyer

The Regiment is saddened by the loss of RSM David Boyer who passed away December 7th.

David passed away peacefully December 7, 2006 at the Foothills Hospital at the age of 86 years. David will be lovingly remembered by his wife, Elinor; daughter, Barbara; sons, David (Champ), Russell (Lucky), Jeffrey (Blackie) and Rock; 31 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; brother, Russell and numerous nieces, nephews, extended family members and friends. He was predeceased by his parents; three brothers; one sister and his first wife, Olive Emily. David joined the army in 1940 and served with the Edmonton Fusiliers, First Special Service Force and the Loyal Edmonton Regiment. He was wounded in Ortona, Italy. After the war ended he joined the Calgary Highlanders and was with them for 14 years. He came out as a WO1. Since then, Dave was an active supporter and was an "Elder Statesman" of the regiment up until the time of his death. He was also a member of the Royal Canadian Legion #284. David was a salesman for all the years he worked, beginning with Great West Saddlery, Stafford Foods and finally Century Sales and Service. He excelled in numerous sports, but boxing was his first love and while in the service, he was lightweight champ of Western Command. Dave's next endeavour after he retired was swimming. He swam in the morning everyday for 21 years. On his 70th birthday he swam three miles and was still swimming into his 80's. On April 21, 2000 he won Athlete of the Week for Calgary from CFCN Television. The family would like to express a special thank you to the doctors and nurses on the 4th floor of the Special Services building at the Foothills Hospital. In lieu of flowers, donations in David's Memory may be made to a charity of the donor's choice.

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Those wishing to pay their respects may do so on Monday, December 11, 2006 from 6-8 p.m. at the chapel of Mountain View Funeral Home. A Funeral Service will be held at Mewata Armoury 801-11 Street SW on Tuesday, December 12, 2006 at 2:00 p.m. Interment will follow in Mountain View Memorial Gardens. To email expressions of sympathy: www.mountainviewmemorial.ca subject heading: David Boyer. Arrangements entrusted to MOUNTAIN VIEW FUNERAL HOME AND CEMETERY, 17 Avenue SE at Garden Road, (1.5 km east of 84th Street SE). Telephone (403) 272-5555.

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Commemorated
Remembrance  Day Services

Remembrance Day once again saw an enormous turnout of soldiers, including 60 kilted soldiers and a slightly smaller contingent of soldiers in training; again, one of the largest turnouts in recent memory. Aside from the usual detachments for cenotaph and other duty (such as Warrant Officer Gerald Downey's duties at the Colonel Belcher veterans' hospital), the Regiment was out in full force at the Jubilee. Sergeant Paul Brandson represented the Regiment by conducting the Ceremony of Light at the Jubilee (no end of mirth being caused by his inadvertent description as a "Vietnam Veteran"), and Sergeant (retired) Floyd Rourke, DCM laid the wreath this year. Mention was made of the fact that of the men and women killed in Afghanistan in 2006, three were Calgarians. Premier The Honourable Ralph Klein also paid tribute to the Armed Forces in his own inimitable way, recounting how as a boy he admired soldiers, airmen and "naval people". He later served in the RCAF Reserve and the Regular Force where, as he related, he learned to "make my bed and shine my shoes."
 

Outside the Jubilee, Corporal P. (shown above right in Afghanistan)  was presented his SW Asia Service Medal by the Commanding Officer. He joins veterans of Korea and the Second World War such as Floyd Rourke in the exclusive fraternity of Calgary Highlanders combat veterans. The Regiment's pride in their achievements is adequately reflected by the increased strength reflected on regimental parades.

Assistance Rendered
Leadership Lessons From Vimy Ridge
The Work Research Foundation, supported by Veteran's Affairs Canada and the Canada Remembers Partnership, used Mewata Armouries as the backdrop for their annual "Leadership Lessons from Vimy Ridge"  performance. The main event of the evening is a 50 minute lecture by Dr. John Pellowe, who adopts the role of General Sir Arthur Currie, commander of the Canadian Corps in 1917-1918. The talk focuses on team-building and using lessons from Canada's military history to develop leadership in today's corporate world, as well as in everyday life. The event was supported by the Regimental Pipes and Drums, who provided musical support to the Remembrance service at the opening of the show (along with Corporal Michael Scott of the King's Own Calgary Regiment Band), as well as two members of the 10th Battalion Calgary Highlanders Association Heritage Section.

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Several dignitaries made brief addresses, including Member of Parliament Rob Anders and Parliamentary Secretary Jason Kenney.  A talk was also given by Lieutenant Ryan Palmer (shown above), recently returned from combat duty in Afghanistan. More details and photos of the evening will be added on a separate page of this site.

Footprinted
141 Dalhousie Beaver Colony

On 7 November 2006, Second Lieutenant Mills made a Remembrance Day presentation to the boys of 141 Dalhousie Beaver Colony. According to 2Lt Mills: "The young boys are between the ages of 5 and 7 and asked many great questions on what an Infanteer does and are beginning to understand the importance of   November 11th and what it means to be a good citizen. We have permission to post on our website from the Colony Leader Rick Jensen."  Thank you to Mr. Jensen for granting his permission to put these photos up.

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Commemorated
The Battle of Walcheren Causeway

Wednesday 1 November 2006 saw the Regiment commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Walcheren Causeway, fought during the Battle of the Scheldt in 1944.  An impressive turnout of 140 soldiers marked one of the largest regimental parades in recent memory. Several returning veterans of the war in Afghanistan were also honoured on parade, including the presentation of the SW Asia Service Medal to Corporal Rob Green.

Placed First
High River Highland Games

In his first competition in charge of the Regimental Pipes and Drums, Pipe Major Mike Giles led the band to a first place finish in the Grade III Medley competition at the High River Highland Games on 26 Aug 2006, topping a field of five bands. The other bands competing, including the Calgary Police Service Pipe Band (2nd place), Rocky Mountain Pipe Band (3rd), Edmonton and District Pipe Band, and Ben Nevis Pipe Band (Edmonton), all made a strong showing. The Calgary Highlanders also took the prize for Dress and Deportment, and several individual competitors also performed well. The band will be competing at both Calgary (2 Sep) and Canmore (3 Sep).

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Born
Lochlan William Penney

Lochlan William Penney was born to former Pipe Major Chris Penney and his wife Kerry Penney  on August 10, 2006 at 12:19 pm, weighing in at 8lbs 4oz and 21 1/2 inches long. Kerry has been a long time Highland Dancer with the Pipes and Drums and Chris continues to practice with the band as a civilian volunteer.

Congratulations also to Jocelynn Benner, a former trained soldier in the Calgary Highlanders, who played tenor drum and who transferred to 14 Medical Company when the Pipes and Drums stood down.  Her delivery of Parker, shown below, predated Lochlan. Jocelynn had also been a member of 2137 Calgary Highlanders Cadet Corps before joining the Militia; she is no longer active with the military.

Both babies, mothers and fathers are all reportedly doing well.

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Donated
10th Battalion Calgary Highlanders Association Heritage Section

The 10th Battalion Calgary Highlanders Association Heritage Section - a small group devoted to promoting understanding of regimental history and heritage through the collection and display of significant uniforms with 10th Battalion insignia, were received by Associate Museums, equipment and artifacts - donated several uniforms used in the Alberta Tattoo to the Regimental Museum. Five full sets of Service Dress, including trousers, 1915 pattern tunics, and caps, were donated complete to Curator Denny Russell (illustrated on the left of the picture opposite) on 24 Aug 2006, in addition to other historical uniform components. All the uniforms donated were custom made replicas for the tattoo; Northlands graciously provided the funds for the uniforms and the Regimental Museum has agreed to take over custodial duties. The uniforms will be made available to future regimental functions and military pageants as requested and as available, to promote the history and heritage of The Calgary Highlanders.

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A related story on the regimental contribution to the Alberta Tattoo can be seen below.

Commemorated
Peacekeepers Day

The third annual "Peacekeepers Day" was marked by civic services held at Peacekeepers Park in Garrison Green, and nearby Buffalo Park. Calgary Highlanders were in attendance to support the ceremony once again, which consisted of a wreath laying to commemorate Canadian soldiers killed on active service since 1953, including peace operations and the war in Afghanistan. The day is commemorated on the weekend closest to August 9th, the anniversary of the death of the "Buffalo Nine" - nine Canadian servicemen shot down over Syria while on a peace support mission.

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At left, a dapper looking Sergeant Desilets contemplates using his stick on the webmaster. At centre, the equally dapper Floyd Rourke still serving the Regiment 61 years after earning the Distinguished Conduct Medal in Germany. At right, Warrant Officer Martin Woods coyly avoids the camera, which nonetheless captures an impressive set of medals marking service in Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia. All photos courtesy of Warrant Officer Gerald Downey.

Performed
Alberta Tattoo

Thank you to Perry Andress for the photo at right (click to enlarge) of pipe band members who attended the Alberta Tattoo in July. From left to right:

Corporal Malcolm Odell
Drummer Kelsey Drummond

Piper Cameron Drummond
Drummer Perry Andress
Lieutenant Colonel (ret'd) J. Lynn Moffatt, OMM, CD

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Final Farewell to a Fallen Comrade

Corporal Steve Welsh passes on this photo and caption from the official Army "Combat Camera" website. Calgary Highlander Matthew Russell is second from the left.

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7 Aug 2006
Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan

Ramp Ceremony for Master Corporal Raymond Arndt, a reservist with The Loyal Edmonton Regiment (4 PPCLI), who was killed in an accident, in which a supply truck collided with a civilian vehicle about 35 kilometres southeast of Kandahar city.

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Task Force Afghanistan (TFA) is Canada’s military contribution to Afghanistan. Canadian operations will focus on working with Afghan authorities to improve security, governance and economic development. The Canadian Forces (CF) contribution in Afghanistan comprises about 2,000 soldiers, most of whom serve with TFA at Kandahar Airfield and Camp Nathan Smith, Canada’s Provincial Reconstruction Team, in Kandahar City. Additional personnel are assigned to various military headquarters, a support base, and civilian organizations.

Photo by: Master Corporal Doug Desrochers
Task Force Afghanistan Roto 1 Imagery Technician

The Past Recreated
10th Battalion Calgary Highlanders Association Heritage Section at the Alberta Tattoo

This year's Alberta Tattoo in Edmonton (the 2nd Annual) included include five pipers and drummers from The Calgary Highlanders, as well as a section of 10th Battalion re-enactors organized by Captain Kevin S. Winfield, CD (former Calgary Highlander and now MP officer) as well as Corporal Dorosh. The Tattoo ran for four performances at Rexall Place between Thursday 20 July, and Saturday 22 July 2006. The Tattoo format was enhanced by the use of traditional military pageantry to tell the story of a single character, in this case an Alberta veteran of the First World War.

At right, Cpl Dorosh with Corporal Mike Stephenson of 18 Maintenance Troop, 1st Combat Engineer Regiment, wearing the blue shoulder straps of the First Contingent of 1915. The re-enactment section was suitably clad in 10th Battalion badges, including C-over-10 collar badges as seen here, and the large red "battle patches" on the sleeves of the Service Dress.

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2006 Alberta Tattoo First World War Re-Enactors

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Front Row (Left to Right): Capt Kevin Winfield (standing), 1 Grn MP Coy; Spr. Kevin Delarge, 1 CER; Tpr Evan Arsenault, LdSH (RC); Cpl Hugo Gomes, LdSH (RC); Cpl Scott Noonan, 1 CER; Cpl Douglas Hill, 1 CER; Cpl Michael Dorosh (standing), The Calgary Highlanders

Back Row (Left to Right) Cpl Joel Mousseau, LdSH (RC); Tpr Tanner Black, LdSH (RC); Cpl Mike Stephenson, 1 CER (18 Maint Tp); Spr Adam Stefaniec, 1 CER; Tpr Brendon Douglas, LdSH (RC)

Checking In
Corporal P.

Thanks to Corporal P's friend, Josée, for passing on photos from Afghanistan. (Photos removed in the interest of operational security.)

"The Operation is going well for the Highlanders in (our) Company.  There is 30 more days to go and we are keeping our spirits up.   We've had a very engaging tour.  Our platoon has seen Kandahar province and Helmund Province in southern Afghanistan.  We've lived out of FOBs and in the field for the months of April, May and June...  We've participated in tasks ranging from site security, recces, dismounted patrols, cordon & searches, combat operations/advance to contact, vehicle check points and multinational operations to name a few.  Currently our platoon is involved with an airmobile tasking that will take us to the end of our deployment.  We are all excited about our decompression leave (to take place in Cyprus over three days), and obviously to come home and see our loved ones.   A big hello to the regiment and to all our friends and family near and far, whom we love so much."

 

Won
Regimental Pipes and Drums of the Calgary Highlanders
Calgary Stampede Parade - Friday 7 Jul 2006

Despite being placed near the end of the Stampede Parade this year, the Regimental Pipes and Drums were ranked the No. 1 Pipe Band in the parade, as well as "best Canadian Band."  Clan Maxwell Pipe Band also had a sizeable entry in this year's parade, and the Calgary Police Pipe Band as always was well turned out and provided strong competition. Other Canadian bands included the Regular Force's HMCS Stadacona Band of the Canadian Navy, as well as the massed bands of The King's Own Calgary Regiment (RCAC) and The Loyal Edmonton Regiment (4th Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry).

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The Stampede Parade has been a tradition for the Pipes and Drums since 1910.
The Pipes and Drums are shown here in the Parade in 1955. Calgary Exhibition and Stampede Archives photo.

Decorated
Corporal Greg Harder
Canadian Forces Decoration 2 July 2006

In addition to the decoration he will soon be wearing for his recent deployment overseas, Corporal Greg Harder was presented with the Canadian Forces Decoration representing 12 years of long service and good conduct by Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Tom Manley on 2 July 2006. The presentation was made at the Edmonton International Airport upon Corporal Harder's return from Afghanistan.

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Canada Day

In traditional fashion, the Regimental Pipes and Drums once again traveled to Canmore and Banff to participate in street parades there, commemorating the anniversary of Confederation on 1 July 1867.

 

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In Africa, Warrant Officer Mike Smith also marked the occasion:

Our last day of ranges for the turret gunner instructors was today.  The  "range" is just a rocky hillside in the middle of the desert. Two members of  the RCMP and a British Policeman came out with us for their Canada Day  "fireworks".  I had them on a dismounted C6 (machine gun)...  Once they got used to  watching the splash we were getting them on target.  They got into the (Grizzly) turret and got to fire the C6 and the .50 cal so they had a good time.  I took them in the Grizzly up to check out the damage to the targets (old Grizzly  tires painted white) and then we had a can of sardines.  At 2pm I decided to  take the rest of the day off in honor of the holiday.

All in all not a bad day, I got to shoot, hang out with a couple of  Canadians, take a Grizz for a spin, eat an orange and enjoy more delicious  sardines.  The instructors get their certificates tomorrow and then I have a  short break before the officers arrive to receive their course on tactics.   During that break I should be able to go on patrols and escorts with the Protection Force to see if there are areas for improvement.

Every day we have to put out fresh tires to shoot because every afternoon the  locals come by and roll them away several kilometers to their village and  use them to make shoes and things.  There was a big muffler from some other  armoured vehicle that must have weighed 300 lbs and so full of holes it  looked like a strainer.   It took them a few days to figure out how to move  it but they must have showed up with donkeys or a camel last night because  it was gone today.  The Sudanese around here don't let anything go to waste.

Monkeying Around
Warrant Officer Mike Smith

Warrant Officer Mike Smith (not pictured) has reported in from his new posting in Africa (Darfur, via Addis Ababa). The African Union has requested instructors to go with the "Grizzly" Infantry Section Carriers that Canada has sent to the region. The instructors (who are training Africans to take over as instructors themselves) come from a variety of nations. WO Smith reports that he gets along swimmingly with his boss, a Major of South African extraction. Aside from the camel spiders, one of the main attractions appears to be "millions of rounds of 7.62 link and .50."

"There are a lot of dead horses and other animals around due to the heat and the lack of water but the good news is that they leave them where they fall so I'm mostly certain they don't make it to the market."

The Regiment wishes WO Smith luck on his tour and looks forward to regular reports and photos.

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Decorated
Lieutenant Colonel Warren Spaan, CD
2nd Clasp to the Canadian Forces Decoration

Rear Admiral R.D. Murphy, Director of Staff (Strategic Joint Staff (SJS)), is seen presenting the second clasp to the Canadian Forces Decoration to Lieutenant Colonel Warren J. Spaan in a ceremony at National Defence Headquarters on 21 June 2006 in recognition of the completion of 32 years of service in the CF.  LCol Spaan is currently serving in the Current Operations Branch of the SJS.

The role of the SJS is to support the CDS in effecting his command of CF operations, and to support him in providing military advice to the Government of Canada.

LCol Spaan commanded The Calgary Highlanders from 1999 to 2002.

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Spotted On Sale
Regimental Afghan?

Corporal P., currently serving in Afghanistan, passed on the following photo of an open air market in their Area of Operations.  No word on whether or not there were any takers.

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Visited
LCol Villiger returns from Afghanistan

Former Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Lee Villiger, currently G9 for Land Force Western Area, visited Afghanistan from 22 May to 27 May 2006, visiting his CIMIC troops in theatre. The visit included a close look at the new Nyala patrol vehicles in use.

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Last Post
Major Roy Alexander Farran, DSO, MC and 2 Bars

Major Roy Farran is well known to The Calgary Highlanders as the first official Regimental historian, publishing History of The Calgary Highlanders 1921-1954. The Regiment passes on its condolences to his family and friends. A biography of is available by clicking here. Below is the obituary published in the Calgary Sun.

Major Roy Alexander Farran, DSO, MC two bars, passed away at the age of 85 years. One of the most highly decorated soldiers of World War II, Roy was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross - two bars, Africa Campaign Star, France/Germany Campaign Star, Italy Campaign Star, General Campaign Medal, Queen's Gold Jubilee Medal, Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal, Canada 125 Medal, Officer and Chevalier of the Order of the Legion of Honour - France, French Croix de Guerre with Palm, Officer of the Order of the United States Legion of Merit, the Italian Gold Medal, Italian Partisan Star of the Garibaldi, and the Greek War Medal. A true child of the commonwealth, Roy spent his youth in India until he returned to England and attended the Royal Sandhurst Military College. His colourful Military career saw action in the Western Desert, Crete, Italy, France, Norway and in post-war Palestine. As an early member of the Special Air Services (SAS), Roy pioneered behind-the-enemy lines operations. In August, 1941, Roy escaped from a German prisoner of war camp in Greece to return to fight in the Battle of El Alamein in North Africa. His biographical chronicle, 'Winged Dagger' was a post-war bestseller and is today considered a military classic. In 1949, Roy worked in Southern Rhodesia where he met his Canadian born wife, Ruth Harvie Ardern. He left his Herefordshire farm in England to immigrate to Canada in 1950 where he started a dairy farm in Springbank. Roy was an accomplished journalist and spent many years with the Calgary Herald and established the North Hill News in 1951. He was the publisher of many Alberta weeklies under his motto "without fear or favour". He was an Alderman for Calgary North Hill from 1961 - 1969. He was an MLA from 1971 - 1979 holding the cabinet portfolios of Telephones and Utilities and Solicitor General. Roy was well known for his columns in the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald and his lively talk show on CFAC radio. Roy was active in the community and held directorships with the Calgary Stampede, Calgary Hospital Board, Fanning Centre, Calgary Zoo, Calgary Winter Club, and many others. He was the energy behind the creation of Fish Creek Park and Nose Hill Park. As an accomplished author, he wrote nine books. A linguist, he spoke seven languages and was a long time supporter of the Alliance Francaise. He was Chairman of the Alberta Racing Commission for 14 years and was a passionate horseman and outdoorsman. He was a model father sharing his wisdom, adventures, horses and his love of the outdoors. Roy will be forever loved and remembered by his children, Sally, Peter, Terry and David; his grandchildren, Christopher, Sean, Meaghan, Kristy, Allyson, Leigh and Thomas; great-grandchild Elliott; and long-time friend Andre Lorent. He was predeceased by Ruth, his wife of fifty-one years, and his brothers, Rex, Ray and Kit.

Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Anthony's Catholic Church (5340 - 4th Street S.W.) on Monday June 12, 2006, at 10:30 a.m., with the Rev. Eulogio Estaris, Presider. Forward condolences through http://www.mcinnisandholloway.com Special thanks to his compassionate caregivers, Anna Lisa, Dory, Belinda, Lynette, Wendy, Donna and Jeannete. If friend's so desire, memorial tributes may be made in Roy Farran's name directly to the Calgary Military Museums Society, to the attention of Ms. Ranjit Gill, Museum of the Regiments (The Military Museums), 4520 Crowchild Trail S.W., Calgary AB , T2T-5J4, Telephone: 403-240-9723. In living memory of Roy Farran, 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.

Checked Out - 24 May 2006
3 Platoon of "A" Company under 2nd Lieutenant Gavin Mills brushed up on their basic battle drills before sending young soldiers off on their Basic Infantry Qualification Course (BIQ); the review was done at Edworthy Park under the watchful eye of some long serving Junior NCOs such as MCpl Rob Jackson, Cpl Steve Welsh and Cpl Jamie Moreau. Click photo to enlarge.

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Reported - 21 May 2006
Trainer Tackles Ultimate Test
Calgarian Loses Friends, Finds Strength

Sarah McGinnis, Calgary Herald - reproduced under the fair use provisions of the Copyright Act.
Published: Sunday, May 21, 2006

Jason Heller and his buddy Bill Turner gazed up at the Afghan stars over the butt of a heavy machine-gun.

The reservists swapped stories of Alberta in between mouthfuls of Froot Loops as they kept watch for Taliban.

"We talked about our plans for families and jobs when we get home," Lieut. Heller said. "Less than two weeks later, he's gone."

The deaths of comrades such as Lieut. Bill Turner and most recently Capt. Nichola Goddard -- who was killed this week in a firefight near Kandahar -- rocked Heller. But he and more than 50 other Calgary reservists continue to serve in Afghanistan undaunted.

They fought to be included in the deployment and say they're more than qualified to be there.

Heller isn't your typical reservist. The Calgarian didn't join up in his late teens to help pay for university, nor did he have family in the military. A fitness trainer who had his own company, he wanted to know if he was strong enough to join the ranks.

Heller is deployed in Kandahar province as the commander of a tactical psychological operations team.

"Since I've been here, I have had close friends kill (and) be killed . . . I have helped give aid to combat victims and watched an Afghani policeman dying of a sucking chest wound right in front of me," he said.

"I did not honestly expect the fight to get as close to me as it has."

Violence has touched many lives. So far, 16 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have lost their lives in Afghanistan since early 2002.

Goddard is the latest casualty and the first female Canadian soldier to die in battle. She'll be honoured at a memorial service in Calgary on Friday.

Heller's closest brush with death came with the loss of Turner last month. The men had similar jobs as liaisons with local Afghans.

Twelve days before an explosion claimed his life, Turner came to say goodbye. He wouldn't leave the encampment without telling everyone how he felt about them.

"I can sleep well at night because of Bill's actions," Heller said.

The deaths of two reservists in that April explosion launched a debate in Canada about qualifications of "part-time soldiers" and whether they should be used to fill out the ranks of infantry battalions.

The criticisms are insulting to Heller and his comrades.

There are good reservists and bad ones, just as there are good and bad serving in the regular forces. The only reservists who get nominated to serve overseas are the able ones, he said.

"I would rather be fighting with troops that fought tooth-and-nail to get to Afghanistan than with someone that only came because they were ordered to."

Training teaches you maybe 10 per cent of what you need to know, adds Master Cpl. Will Emslie, a fellow Calgary Highlander. It's the foundation. The rest comes from learning from your experiences, be it how to drive down the road or what to do if ambushed.

The mere mention of ambushes, kidnappings and bombings is enough to make families anxious.

Heller says his parents are nervous wrecks who can't sleep until he's back "inside the wire."

Originally, his wife, Sheena, couldn't bear to watch the news or listen to the radio. Every story about suicide bombers or wounded solders touched off waves of fear, she told the Herald from her Calgary home.

Sheena Heller admits she gets angry sometimes about the deployment. She understands why her husband had to go. But it's as if he's been hijacked, leaving a void in her life.

Her husband is struggling with the same loss, she says. Distracting him with worries from home can be dangerous.

With three months left of his tour, Lieut. Heller is questioning whether to serve in another war.

His friend is gone, but Heller's reason to serve remains.

He's fighting to make Afghanistan safer for those who live there.

smcginnis@theherald.canwest.com
© The Calgary Herald 2006

Saturday Training - 7 May 2006

Some random photos of weekend training on Saturday 7 May 2006. Sergeants Schmidt and Holland supervise their troops rappelling from the top of the Armouries. Inside, troops clean C6 machine guns.  The large Highlander recently repositioned over the end of the parade square has been part of the scenery at Mewata for years; it was salvaged by the Pipes and Drums in the 1980s when McLeod Bros. changed locations. Sergeant Chris Linford repainted the Highlander in the uniform of a Calgary Highlanders Drum Major.

Photos at right are thumbnailed, click to enlarge.

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Commemorated - The Glorious 22nd of April, 1915

The annual St. Julien's Day Freedom of the City Parade was conducted directly on the anniversary of the historic counter-attack at Kitchener's Wood, 22 April 2006. The day was doubly sad as news that four Canadian soldiers had lost their lives that same day in Afghanistan was received.

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Number 1 Guard under Captain Meades arrives at City Hall. Shannon Armstrong Photo.

Presentations

A multitude of presentations were made at the dinner:

Ladies Auxiliary Bursaries
Due to the success of the Ladies Auxiliary at fund raising, three bursaries were awarded:

  • $1000.00 to Master Corporal William Emslie, a six-year member of the regiment with prior service in Bosnia and currently deployed to Kandahar

  • $500.00 to Officer Cadet Jason Leek, a member of the Regiment for 1-1/2 years, but also with 6 years in a Calgary Highlanders cadet corps

  • $500.00 to Corporal Joel F., a five-year member of the Regiment

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Number 2 Guard steps off for the march down Stephen Avenue Mall.
Shannon Armstrong Photo.

 

Clan of the Gallant Canadians
The following members of the Regimental Family were admitted to the Clan of the Gallant Canadians in the rank indicated:

Toshach

  • Edana Venkner

Henchman

  • Warrant Officer Glenn Fedoruk
  • Master Corporal Cody Martin
  • Master Corporal Kenny

Clansman

  • Sergeant Mark Dodd
  • Sergeant Desilets
  • Corporal P
  • Corporal Waye

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WO Glenn Fedoruk, CD

Regimental Commendations
Five civilian pipers were recognized by the Regiment for the assistance they provided during the Royal Visit in May 2005, and were presented with Regimental Commendations as well as regimental cap badges and invitations to join the Regimental Association.

  
  • Robert Amos
  • Wayne Leroche
  • Arlene Murphy
  • Jim Perry
  • Ken Rogers (who quipped on receiving his cap badge that he had actually been a member of the Regimental Pipes and Drums 35 years previously)

 

Regimental Trophies

Regimental trophy presentations are listed on the trophies page of this site. Also updated there is the WO Bruce Waterhouse award winner for 2006, which was presented at the Regimental Birthday in April.

Also recognized at the dinner was Corporal Forrest, the Most Improved Hockey Player, who started the 2005-2006 season with the regimental hockey team never having skated before and ending the season with four goals.

Master Corporal Patton, currently serving overseas, was the subject of much discussion when it was realized he has last year's Lieutenant Colonel Spaan Soldier of Excellence award still in his possession.

Corporal Matt Chinn was recognized as the top shot in the Regiment.

At right, the "oldest Private" in the Regiment on parade; Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Lynn Moffat, OMM, CD, President of the 10th Battalion Calgary Highlanders Association and piper in the Regimental Pipes and Drums, who was presented the RSM McCumber award for outstanding service to the Regiment at the dinner.

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Happy Highlanders. Shannon Armstrong Photo.

The number of experienced soldiers absent by being overseas and on tasking elsewhere was made obvious by the number and proportion of private soldiers on parade as shown above. When the guy who gives out the socks has more medals than the majority of his Guard, you know there is something fishy happening.

On that note, the Recruiting Cell of the regiment - Warrant Officer Fedoruk, Master Corporals Martin and P, and Corporal Waye - were all recognized at the dinner by admission to the Clan of the Gallant Canadians as mentioned above. Special note was made by Adjutant Captain Hugh McReynolds that recruiting by these four individuals has been so successful (more than doubling the intake of the year previous and perhaps even tripling it) that LFWA has requested to study their methods. The Regiment continues to make headway in meeting its preparedness goals for Task Force 4-07.

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Above and below - two of the proudest Regimental traditions - the Colour Party (Lieutenant Lowther, WO Afflick, Lieutenant Mills, Sgt Desilets and Sgt Holland) and the Pipes and Drums (under Drum Major Jim Stewart and Pipe Major Mike Giles).

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This year's guest speaker, Regimental Museum and Archives Curator Lieutenant (retired) Barry Agnew, CD, gave a rundown of the past year's activities and a timely reminder to all members of the Regimental Family that the museum is always looking for information to help document our history. LCol Moffat repeated that theme in his closing remarks, stating that we get an "F" for "failure" when it comes to documenting our activities.  The Regimental Webmaster is inclined to agree, and encourages soldiers past and present to come forward with photos, anecdotes, archival documents or any other items that we can use to help preserve our history and document it for future generations.

A final thank you goes to Alderman Rick McIver for the kind words in his speech to the Regiment at the start of the dinner.

 

Operation ARCHER - Apr 2006

Thanks to Corporal B. for passing on some photos; Cpl B. is below centre, with Calgary Highlanders Sergeant Avelino at right, and MCpl Swainson at left. Other photos to go up soon in the Photos and Article section. At right, Corporal Sagastume.

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Victorious - Apr 2006

The Oakleafs win the 2005-2006 playoffs - full details available here.

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Recognized (from Apr 2004)

Chief Warrant Officer Kent Griffiths (41 Canadian Brigade Group RSM)

In recognition of exemplary dedication to the values of integrity, honesty, fairness and openness,

Chief Warrant Officer Kent Griffiths

is awarded the Commendation for Ethics of the Ombudsman for National Defence and Canadian Forces.

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During decades of service in the Canadian Forces Reserves, Chief Warrant Officer Griffiths has demonstrated leadership that combines energy and resourcefulness with ethics and integrity. Committed to the personal development of young soldiers and civilians, he leads by the example of his work ethic, openness and fairness.

Through his diverse contributions — in fields ranging from Drum Major to mentor to harassment advisor — Chief Warrant Officer Griffiths has shown unfailing respect for human dignity and recognition of merit. He provides candid advice and recommendations, while performing duties and managing resources in ways that strengthen public confidence. His professional and human skills have enhanced the well-being of the Forces and civilian communities alike.

The Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces salutes and commends Chief Warrant Officer Kent Griffiths’ outstanding commitment.

Operation ARCHER - Mar 2006

A big thank you to Lieutenant Palmer for providing this list of soldiers on Operation ARCHER to the webmaster, and to Corporal P (at right in the photo below) who promises more pictures of operations there.

 

Lieutenant Jason Heller 
Lieutenant Palmer RC
Sergeant Dino Avelino
Sergeant Paul Brandson
Sergeant Ian Macdonald
Master Corporal "Wil" Emslie
Master Corporal  Greg Harder
Sergeant Stephan Malenfant
Master Corporal Mark Nussbaumer
Master Corporal  Dave Patton
Corporal  Phil X
Corporal Craig Costin
Corporal Mike Emslie
Corporal Rob Green
Corporal  Dan Decorby
Corporal Stephen Macpherson
Corporal Shawn McDermott
Corporal Johnathan Macleod
Corporal Joshua Morris
Corporal P.
Corporal  Matthew Russell
Corporal Matt Sagastume
Corporal  JP Toussaint 
Corporal  Bryan Trochim
Corporal  Adam Wanvig
Corporal (Y)

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Checking In from ARCHER
Master Corporal Dave Patton
Master Corporal Steve Malenfant
Corporal Shawn McDermott

Master Corporal Patton writes from Afghanistan, where he, Master Corporal Steve Malenfant, and Corporal Shawn McDermott are all employed at Camp Nathan Smith, at the site of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar City.

These Highlanders have been in theatre since the first part of December 2005, as part of Operation ARCHER Roto 0, tasked primarily with force protection as well as assisting the patrol company on their patrols, mostly a variety of escort mission for Canadian civilians and Royal Canadian Mounted Police members, who liaise with local officials.

MCpl Patton writes that: "The food is pretty good...  The weather is hot even though this is a cooler part of the year, usually in the mid 30's during the day."

There are many other Highlanders on duty in Afghanistan now who unfortunately the webmaster has no details on; Corporal Greg Harder and Corporal X have contacted the webmaster and promised to send photos.

MCpl Patton's photos are available here.

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Laid to Rest
Private Brendan O'Shea
16 February 2006

Private Brendan O'Shea was laid to rest after a very well attended service at St. Luke's Catholic Church.  In addition to a large number of  friends, family, and his regimental comrades who turned out en masse, there were also fellow infantrymen from as far away as the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment and the Loyal Edmonton Regiment (4 PPCLI).

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Burden of Command: Lieutenant Colonel Tom Manley addresses the Regiment on Wednesday night parade, 15 Feb 2006.  "We will mourn as a family."

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Duty of Comradeship: On the coldest day of the 2005-2006 winter, 16 February 2006, with the mercury dropping below -20 Celsius, the Regiment buried Private Brendan O'Shea with full military honours.   He now lies at rest among personnel of all three services at the Field of Honour, Queen's Park Cemetery.

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Private O'Shea, left, at the 2006 Robbie Burns Dinner.

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Brendan O'Shea, at left, with friends, from the online guestbook at this address.

I Did Not Die

Do not stand at my grave and forever weep.
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and forever cry.
I am not there. I did not die.


- Melinda Sue Pacho


Last Post - 10  February 2006
Private Brendan O'Shea

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The Calgary Highlanders were shocked and saddened to hear that Private Brendan O'Shea had passed away suddenly on 10 February 2006 at the age of 19.   Private O'Shea was entering into his third year with the Regiment and in October 2004 was featured on the main page of this site, having proudly represented the Regiment at Exercise Active Edge.

Brendan was remembered at a spontaneous gathering of dozens of his regimental comrades  last Friday night, and will be laid to rest following a military funeral on Thursday, 16 February 2006.   His official obituary is reproduced below.  The Regiment expresses its deepest regret and sincere condolences to his family and friends.

O'SHEA _ Brendan Thomas 1986 - 2006 Brendan Thomas O'Shea of Calgary passed away suddenly in Nose Hill Park, Calgary on Friday, February 10, 2006 at the age of 19 years. Brendan was a native Calgarian born December 7, 1986. He was educated at St. Dominic's Elementary, St. Jean Brebeuf Junior High and graduated in 2004 from St. Francis Senior High School. Brendan enrolled as a proud member of the Canadian Forces on January 24, 2004, holding the rank of Private with The Calgary Highlanders. Brendan was a qualified Infantryman and had training on Infantry platoon support weapons and communications equipment. Brendan will be lovingly remembered by his mother Brigid, brother Owen, stepmother Laurie and her sons, Jay, Rob and Craig; grandmother Eva; step-grandmother Vi; Aunt Fiona; Uncles, Ray, Ciaran, Brendan and Martin; as well as many relatives and friends in Alberta, Newfoundland and Ireland. He will never be forgotten by the Canadian Forces in particular Brendan's military family in The Calgary Highlanders. Brendan was predeceased by his father Gordon Legge, grandfather Harold Legge, grandfather Patrick J. O'Shea and grandmother Ellen O'Flynn. Relatives and friends are invited to Prayers and Tributes at St. Luke's Catholic Church (corner of Northmount Drive and Northland Drive N.W.) on Wednesday, February 15, 2006 at 7:30 p.m. Funeral Mass will be concelebrated at St. Luke's Catholic Church (corner of Northmount Drive and Northland Drive N.W.) on Thursday, February 16, 2006 at 11:00 a.m. with Rev. Inocencio C. Cambaling and Rev. Stefan Ganowicz presiding. Graveside services to follow at Queen's Park Cemetery, Field of Honour. Forward condolences through www.mcinnisandholloway.com . If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to The Calgary Highlanders Regimental Funds Foundation (funds to be held in trust for disbursement by family to a registered charity), 801 - 11 Street S.W., Calgary, AB T2P 1C4 (Telephone 403-410-2320 ext 3337). In living memory of Brendan O'Shea, a tree will be planted by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Crowfoot Chapel, 82 CROWFOOT CIRCLE N.W., CALGARY. Telephone: 403-241-0044.

Soldiers attending the service may wear CO's Parade Dress, with medals.

On the Way - February 2006

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Calgary Highlanders in the Loyal Edmonton Regiment's mess prior to deploying to Afghanistan, February 2006.  Photo courtesy Mark Nussbaumer. 
Standing left to right: Sgt McDonald, MCpl Nussbaumer, Cpl Macleod, Cpl Russell, Cpl "Killer"  Emslie , Cpl Trochim, Sgt Brandson. 
Kneeling left to right MCpl Emslie, Cpl "Kobra" Costin, Cpl McPherson, Cpl Toussaint, Cpl Decorby

Now It Can Be Told

The Loyal Eddie's Mess is not unfamiliar to the Calgary Highlanders.  In November 2005, while staying at Jefferson Armouries for a weekend range shoot, Cpl Steve Welsh and Cpl Matt Chinn were tasked as fire pickets.  Proving the old adage that a Calgary Highlander performs all his duties, even the mundane ones,   to the best of his abilities, these intrepid soldiers discovered in the course of their rounds that the door to the Officer's Mess was insecure.  Entering the mess to investigate, as duty bound them to do, they found the stand of Regimental Colours in the unlocked mess.  Knowing the importance to a Regiment of their Colours - without doubt an Infantry unit's most prized possession - the two stalwart NCOs quickly secured the room.  When asked to comment, the two Highlanders could only offer a sincere "we were just doing our duty."   The Loyal Edmonton Regiment has a long history in the Province of Alberta and unlike the professional football and hockey clubs of the province's two largest cities, any reports of a rivalry between these two proud infantry regiments are greatly exaggerated.

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Safe and Sound Part II
Friday 27 January 2006

Warrant Officer Martin Woods

Warrant Officer Woods has arrived back in Canada from a six month operational deployment to Afghanistan; photos and information to follow shortly.  Meanwhile, other Calgary Highlanders have recently begun deploying to the region as individual augmentees to Regular Force units, details to follow as they become available.

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Safe and Sound
Wednesday 18 January 2006

Master Corporal Mike Kotuk

Former Calgary Highlander Mike Kotuk, now serving as a Master Corporal in Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, reports by email that although his section was the one attacked by the suicide bomber this week, his vehicle was not involved in the incident.  Kotuk appeared on the cover of the Calgary Herald today (centre) as pallbearer for Mr. Glyn Berry, the diplomat killed in the incident on 15 January 2006.  At right of the photo is Corporal Paul Rhodes, son of former Pipe Major Dusty Rhodes and brother of Corporal Joel Rhodes, who recently left the Highlanders for the Air Force.  Paul Rhodes is a former trooper in the KOCR who is now a Material Technician stationed in CFB Petawawa with the Regular Force.

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Photo By MCpl Robert Bottrill, Canadian Forces Combat Camera

Master Corporal Kotuk, second from right, with the rest of 3 Section, 4 Platoon, "B" Company of 3 PPCLI, taken on 23 November 2005 in Kandahar.   Injured soldiers in the attack were: front row kneeling (L-R)  Corporal Jeffrey Bailey, and to the right of him Master Corporal Paul Franklin. Back Row 3rd from left is Private William Salikin.  A bomb was detonated close to their vehicle, severely injuring all three and killing Mr. Glyn Berry, a Political Director, from Foreign Affairs Canada who was embedded with the Provincial Reconstruction Team.

From the DND website: The Canadian PRT is conducting operations in Kandahar, Afghanistan and has brought together representatives from the Canadian Forces, Foreign Affairs Canada (FAC), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). In an integrated Canadian effort, under Operation ARCHER, ROTO 0, the PRT will reinforce the authority of the Afghan government in and around Kandahar and help stabilize and rebuild the region. The PRT includes about 250 soldiers, drawn largely from Land Forces Western Area.

CO's Parade
Wednesday, 11 January 2006

Photo by 2Lt Gavin Mills

Promoted

Corporal Haywood

Congratulations to Corporal Haywood on his promotion.  Corporal Haywood is currently undergoing Leadership training on the Primary Leadership Qualification course being run by The Calgary Highlanders.

Lieutenant Colonel Manley, at left, filled the Regiment in on upcoming exercises in the United States to practice the art of urban operations (house-to-house fighting) and upcoming deployments overseas.

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