Back in 2008, Sergeant Jason J. Boyes was serving in Afghanistan as part of Task Force 1-08, which was led by the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI). On this day, March 16, 2008 Sgt Boyes and his section were taking part in a dismounted presence patrol in the Zangabad region, Panjwayi District with Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). During that patrol Sgt Boyes was severely wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) denoted; he was immediately evacuated by helicopter back to Kandahar Airfield, where CF doctors at ROLE 3 attempted to treat him. Later that day he would succumb to his wounds.
Sgt Jason Boyes: born in Lynn Lake, MB; KIA in Panjwayi, Afghanistan; buried in Kingston, ON. We remember you, brother. Lest We Forget.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered his “deepest condolences to the loved ones of Sgt. Jason Boyes.” In a statement Monday afternoon, Harper said Boyes was “a well- respected member of the Canadian Forces” and “an exceptionally brave soldier who deserves the support and gratitude of all Canadians.”
This is something that I’ve kept meaning to do somehow, but haven’t really found a suitable way to do it until now. With the site’s blog now available Duty & Valour, I thought that I would put up a little memorial for my fellow Canadian soldiers who fell in the line of duty during my time with Task Force 3-08. I had the honour of being deployed during TF 3-08, arriving at Kandahar Airfield (KAF) on July 14, 2008 in the last month of TF 1-08 and ahead of the main 3RCR battle group.
The year 2008 had, up to that point, seen over a dozen Canadian Forces (CF) soldiers killed in action, along with scores more wounded. Over the course of my nine month rotation in theKandahar Province, and by the time that I had arrived home at the end February 2009, there had been a further twenty-one CF members killed in Afghanistan. The circumstances around each death ranged from improvised explosive device (IED) strikes to direct contact with the enemy; however, even though each death holds its own individual story, they are all related, at least through my own experience, in that they happened while I was operating out of KAF and are, therefore, linked in my mind to the time that I spent In Country.
I had the privilege of meeting a lot of the members listed below either in passing in the Canadian lines at KAF, or directly during the course of my tour. Two of them I had known from back home: Pte Demetrios “Dip” Diplaros, who I had briefly met through a mutual friend, but who I remembered because everyone called him “Dip” out of not being able to properly pronounce his last name; the second, Cpl Mark McLaren, I had known for many years, having actually joined the infantry at the same and being on basic training in the same company if not the same platoon (a fact that I didn’t even learn until much later). Over the years, Mark, who was known as “Chinaman” to all his military friends, and I became friends, shared more than a few drinks, and even more laughs. Anyways, the important thing was that we served in the same rifle company together for over four years and, even after moving on from that regiment to another, I counted Mark among my friends with whom I had served with there. Coincidently, both Demetrios and Mark were working with the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team (OMLT) of TF 3-08 in the same section. The OMLT’s job was to help train the soldiers and officers of the Afghan National Army (ANA), and part of this meant that these Canadians would constantly go out on both mounted and dismounted patrols with their ANA counterparts. The day of December 5 was one such day, and it was one of the worst, if not the worst, day of my entire tour. During the morning of Dec. 5 Mark’s armoured column was on a routine road move with the ANA when their LAV III armoured vehicle sustained heavy damage from an enemy-laid IED along the road. Mark and Demetrios, along with WO Robert Wilson, were killed immediately from the resulting blast.
Losing soldiers is hard for any army and country, especially those soldiers, friends and family who knew the deceased and are left to continue on. I’ll admit that December 5 was probably the defining moment of TF 3-08 for myself, elements of my former regiment, and the members of the families of the three soldiers who were killed that day. While I wasn’t as close with Mark as some others from my old company, like his best friends Dobbie and Kimballs, his death brought the war home in ways that I always knew existed, but hadn’t exactly experienced until that day.
In a large part it was the experience of Mark’s death, as well as other moments from Task Force 3-08, that actually brought me to the place where I wanted to do something that could record the moments from our country’s military past — the result was eventually the websites that would come to encompass the name “Duty & Valour” (http://dutyandvalour.com/), and which had, up until now, been a simple, personal blog that I had started in 2002 to record CF casualties in Afghanistan. So, in a way, Duty & Valour, not just this blog post or my original blog, is a virtual memorial dedicated to Mark and the sacrifice that he made that day in the Arghandab District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Besides the fallen soldiers from ROTO 6, we should all take a moment whenever we can to remember all of those who have made the supreme sacrifice in Afghanistan.
We all miss you, Mark. Know that I think of our friendship often, and that we haven’t forgotten about you, nor the bravery you consistently displayed wherever you operated.