Catching Up With the News

Flag honours soldiers killed by friendly fire

Article by By Tamas Virag, The Canadian Press

EDMONTON – A flag bearing the signatures of most of the Canadian soldiers stationed in Afghanistan when four of their colleagues died in a 2002 friendly-fire incident is on its way home to Edmonton Garrison.

In an emotional ceremony Tuesday at the Canadian Space Agency’s headquarters in Laval, Que., the flag was handed over to G3281/E1254 Lt.-Col. Peter Dawe, commander of the Edmonton-based 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.

On April 18, 2002, a plane piloted by a U.S. Air National Guard officer dropped a laser-guided 227-kilogram bomb on Canadians who were conducting a nighttime firing exercise.

It claimed the lives of Sgt. Marc Leger, 29, of Lancaster, Ont., Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, 24, of Montreal, Pte. Richard Green, 21, of Mill Cove and Pte. Nathan Smith, 27, of Porters Lake.

After the flag made the rounds of the troops, it was given to Vancouver-based graphic artist Joseph Green, who had collected thousands of emails and pictures after the deadly explosion and sent them to soldiers overseas. “He took it upon himself to put together a book of condolences from across the country . . . it’s a very moving gesture,” Dawe said.

“I recall being overseas myself as operations officer and hearing news of this and it was all rather heartwarming, pretty good for morale, given the knock we’ve taken.”

Instead of hanging it on his living room wall, Green asked the Canadian Space Agency to take it into space, which it did in late 2006.

“It’s almost overwhelming when you consider the time and the effort that he put into this,” said Dawe, an 18-year army veteran. “For a fellow Canadian to have gone to those lengths to acknowledge the sacrifice of our guys and . . . to consolidate the national emotion and to have it displayed in that sort of format, I thought, is such a terrific idea.”

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