More than 100 soldiers and civilians attended 19 Wing Comox’s commemoration service in recognition of the National Day of Honour on Friday, May 9, to officially mark the end of Canada's military mission in Afghanistan.
The ceremony paid tribute to all those who served in the conflict, and included a benediction from Padre George Helou, a moment of silence for those who perished and an address by, among others, Afghanistan veteran Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret'd) Dave Berry, who served as a member of the Strategic Advisory Team during the conflict.
Berry said it’s important that Canadians recognize the positives that were achieved through the military’s work during the Afghanistan conflict.
“As times goes on and you get some of those Monday morning quarterbacks second-guessing what we did in Afghanistan, they don’t realize what the country was [like] at the time we went over, and all the good work we have done,” he said. “I hear too many reports that the Taliban are still there, etcetera, etcetera, but that’s a fact of life and we have to get over that. We still did great wok in Afghanistan. There are more kids around today that went to school there because of the work that Canadians did. There are roads built, dams rehabilitated, schools built, teachers trained, kids vaccinated and given operations that they would have never had the opportunity for before, because of the work of the Canadian Armed Forces. For that we should be justifiably proud.
“Afghanistan is far better now than it was 10 years ago.”
He said the commemorative service at 19 Wing, as well as similar services at military bases throughout the country, had a distinct purpose.
“Today is a great day to bring closure to our mission,” said Berry. “This was the largest deployment we have had since World War II, it’s the longest period of conflict that Canada has ever been involved in, and (this) marks an end for it. It’s closure for a lot of people and closure for the mission … and a way to let the public know that we are done in Afghanistan and we did good work while we were there.”
Also speaking at the service were Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan, and 19 Wing Commander, Colonel Jim Benninger.