Like war memorials across Canada, the Orléans Cenotaph on Taylor Creek Drive honours the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in serving their country during wartime and in peacekeeping efforts around the globe.
Until now, the monument has born the names of the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War,and both U.N. and NATO missions. Conspicuous by its absence was the Afghanistan War during which 158 Canadian soldiers and three civilians were killed between 2001 and 2014.
|Orléans Ward councillor and Afghanistan veteran Matt Luloff (right) pauses
for a moment of reflection in front of the Orléans Cenotaph during the
Afghanistan Battle Honour ceremony on Nov. 2. (Editor's note: According to DND protocol members of the milittary, including veterans, can only permitted to salute when they are wearing a headdress.) FRED SHERWIN PHOTO
That omission was rectified on Nov. 2 with the unveiling of the freshly engraved words "Afghanistan 2001-2014".
The unveiling was attended by more than 20 veterans of the War in Afghanistan including Lt.-Gen. (Ret'd) Andrew Leslie and RCMP Assistant Commissioner (Ret'd) Graham Muir who were given the honour of unveiling the Battle Honour which was covered by a small Canadian flag that had flown over the Cenotaph at the Canadian base in Kandahar.
A blessing was given by Major Allan Murphy who served as chaplain in Afghanistan followed by the playing of the Last Post and the Piper's Lament.
A single wreath was layed on behalf of Afghanistan War veterans by Sgt. (Ret'd) Alannah Gilmore who served in Afghanistan as a front line medic.
Among the Afghanistan War veterans on parade was Orléans Ward councillor Matt Luloff who did a tour of duty in
2008 as a member of the Princess Patricia's Light Infantry 2nd Battalion.
Having those soldiers who served and died in Afghanistan memorialized by the local Legion on the Cenotaph means a lot to those who served and made it back like Luloff.
"This is a huge step in recognizing Afghanistan veterans. It means a lot to me and I know it means a lot to my colleagues as well," said Luloff.
The ceremony was especially poignant for Luloff, who lost a close friend to enemy fire during their tour.
Cpl. Andrew Grenon was killed on
Sept. 3, 2008 along with Cpl. Mike Seggie and Pte. Chad Horn when a rocket launched by Taliban insurgents struck their armoured vehicle in southern Afghanistan. The 23-year-old Grenon was on his second tour of duty.
Four days after Grenon was killed, Luloff's unit was traveling in a convoy to the main Canadian base in Kandahar City when the vehicle immediately in front of him was struck by an IED instantly killing Sgt. Prescott Shipway.
On any other day, Luloff would have been driving the vehicle that was struck.
"It was the first time I hadn't driven for him in months," explains Luloff. "I had been rotated back to my original platoon just days before which is why I wasn't driving for him when he got hit."
Sgt. Shipway had been helping Luloff, deal with the psychological impact of Grenon's death just days before. Even though Shipway’s driver wasn’t killed in the attack, he was seriously injured.
After returning to Canada, Luloff began suffering from the effects of Past Traumatic Stress Disorder and was giving his medical release in March 2009.
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