Two photos from Sierra Leone, where Lieutenant Colonel Mike Vernon, and Chief Warrant Officer Emmett Kelly are currently serving as members of the International Military Advisory Training Team under the auspices of Operation SCULPTURE, the mission of which is to help the RSLAF (Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces) sustainable without international assistance.
Lieutenant Colonel Vernon is shown here listening to Sierra Leone peacekeepers being debriefed at their Peace Mission Training Centre outside the capital of Freetown. Having just completed his tour of duty as Commanding Officer of The Calgary Highlanders, LCol Vernon explains by email "As an advisor to the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, I had to wear a beret and the RSLAF cap badge."
Having just completed his tour as Regimental Sergeant Major of The Calgary Highlanders, RSM Kelly is now Sergeant Major of Horton Academy, the leadership school of the RSLAF. He's shown here proudly displaying a stainless steel Weber barbeque donated and shipped to Freetown by one of his civilian business associates back in Canada.
Regiment regretfully reports the passing of Floyd Orin Rourke, DCM,
CD. Full obituary and details of arrangements are posted below.
Update: a Regimental service will be held at Mewata
Armouries on Saturday, 29 October, 2011. Details are
Date: Saturday, 29 October, 2011
As a Lance Corporal, Floyd Rourke was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal - an unusual award for a soldier so low in rank - for his actions at Gruppenbühren, Germany. The details of the action are described on this page of the site. The citation of his award read:
Floyd was a proud Highlander to the end of his life; he accompanied the Regiment on its two week Centennial Battlefield Tour in 2010 with his daughter Karen and energetically and enthusiastically represented The Calgary Highlanders at official ceremonies, such as the unveiling of memorials at Clair Tison and Hill 67. More recently, he also represented the Regiment at the unveiling of the Calgary Soldiers' Memorial.
The Regiment offers its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Floyd Rourke.
An update for you. First off, the photo below is of the Sierra Leone Minister of Defense and a few of the key Generals on the staff at the Ministry of Defence. Through much grief the hats we had requested in June arrived and we were able to execute a White Hat ceremony on 4 Oct here in Freetown. The appropriate Yahoo was administered.
Things are good here. The rainy season is abating finally, we really thought it would never end. The rains started in the last week of June and finally stopped last week. To say that the rain sucks the life out of you would be an understatement. Both LCol Vernon and I have been busy in our respective roles. LCol Vernon has been a key player in developing strategies for the RSLAF to be prepared for operations in Somalia. I have continued in my role as the Sergeant-Major at the national staff school while concurrently teaching a Machine Gun Train-the-Trainer course using the GPMG and the 12.7mm DShKM HMG. I will be overseeing an actual MG course in the next few weeks and then I will oversee the first ever Command Team course being conducted in Sierra Leone. I have championed this approach since my arrival so I will see it to fruition.
We have both been heavily involved in bringing change to the leadership of the RSLAF. While it has been frustrating it has been occasionally rewarding.
LCol Vernon will be leaving theatre in the weeks ahead and will be returning to Calgary.
From the Calgary Herald:
Capt. Michael MacKillop, a platoon commander in Afghanistan from October 2009 to May 2010, was selected for the award after serving in Kandahar where he frequently faced resistance from the Taliban. Gov.-Gen. David Johnston cited MacKillop’s “exceptional leadership under fire” and “ability to get the most from his soldiers” as reasons for the honour. He kept his cool and calmly provided direction during intense battles. That doesn’t surprise Tom Burk, MacKillop’s father-in-law.
“He’s the most level-headed person you’d ever meet. He was there to do a job and take care of his troops and that’s what he did.”
MacKillop, 31, joined the Calgary Highlanders immediately after graduating from Lord Beaverbrook High School.
“I’d like to think there was some grand reason behind it. To be honest, I was just looking for something fun to do for the summer,” MacKillop said.
He went on to study philosophy at the University of Calgary, but by then the thrill of the military had him hooked. MacKillop said he never expected to receive such an honour.
“I had a phenomenal crew that was with me. The snipers with my reconnaissance platoon were some of the best soldiers you could ever come across. Obviously there’s the stress of getting shot at, but I was always confident with whom I had around me.”
MacKillop currently lives in Kingston, Ont., with his wife Sarah and two-year-old son Nathan.
The Medal of Military Valour is awarded by the Governor General for an act of bravery or devotion to duty in the presence of an enemy. Thirteen Albertans have received the award since its inception.
After a long and distinguished career, Lieutenant (retired) Barry Agnew, CD has formally retired his position as Curator of The Calgary Highlanders Regimental Museum and Archives. Barry Agnew is well known to the military and historical communities not only in Calgary but nationally and even internationally, coming from a career as a professional conservator with the Glenbow Museum. He took over the reins of the regimental museum after the departure of Lieutenant Brian S. King, CD. He retired in February 2011, and was presented a farewell gift by the museum staff at an annual barbecue of The Military Museums in June 2011. Sergeant Denny Russell was named interim Curator on his retirement and in July 2011 Captain Peter Boyle, CD was named to the position of curator; Sergeant Russell will share the position, bringing with him several years of experience in the museum. Both are assisted by a number of dedicated staff and volunteers, some of whom are pictured below.
A note from CWO Emmett Kelly:
All is well with LCol Vernon
and myself here in Freetown, Sierra Leone on Operation SCULPTURE.
The Calgary Highlanders celebrated their centennial with a full year of events; the Calgary Herald and photographer Nancy Desilets documented some of the activities with a photo-essay that appeared in the January 2nd issue. An online version appears at the following URL:
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