Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Canada Grieves this Christmas Eve.

Christmas is an agonizing time for many people in Canada.
Christine and I have had a nephew do several tours of duty in Afghanistan. We are touched by the loss of lives there.

Yesterday on Tuesday the 23rd of December 2008, the body of Private Justin Peter Jones was laid to rest in his home town of Baie Verte, Newfoundland. His was a military memorial service at St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church. Justin was one of three soldiers who were killed on December 13 by the blast of a Taliban improvised explosive device (IED) under their armoured vehicle during a patrol in the Arghandab District of Afghanistan. Also killed were, Cpl. Thomas James Hamilton and Pte. John Michael Roy Curwin. Cpl. Hamilton, was known as ‘Hammy’ and while he was an outdoorsman, loving to hunt and fish and barbecue his first love, his pride and joy was his daughter. Pte. Curwin was a model family man, dedicated to his three children and always said that his wife was his best friend.

How must their fellow soldiers have felt as they bore their comrades’ bodies upon their shoulders and placed them on a flight headed for Canada and home? Their deaths raised the body count to 103 members of the Canadian Forces who are promoting freedom, security and democracy in Afghanistan. All three were from Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment from CFB Gagetown, N.B., and served as members of the Force Protection Company of the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team. Their job was to conduct regular security patrols to facilitate the reconstruction and development work within the province.

Private Justin Peter Jones celebrated Christmas early this year. He went home for a brief visit to the small Newfoundland community of Baie Verte. It was a respite from the rigours of military life overseas that also let him mark his 21st birthday and participate in his grandparents' 50th anniversary.

He was the only son Anthony and Rowena Jones, who travelled to Trenton, Ont., to meet their son's body. As the Baie Verte population of 1500 waited for Private Jones’ body to come home they tied yellow ribbons on cars, trees and buildings in the small town of 1,500, and drove 200 kilometres to the larger centre of Corner Brook for more ribbon when the stores in Baie Verte ran out. They did this because of Justin. Since childhood he had shown himself as a kind person, trustworthy, a volunteer, and inspirational man. He had a three week leave during the summer and spent 2½ weeks helping his grandfather roof his house.

May the God of comfort bring peace to these wounded families this season.

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