To our Canadian brothers and sisters

  1. I've noticed some concerns from some posters that there seems to be some ongoing rivalry between the US and Canadian BB members. I for one am proud of our neighbors to the north. I've never met a Canadian that I haven't liked ad respected.

    Our two nations share the longest unguarded international boundary in the world. We've had a few problems through the years, but nothing worse that the rivalry that exists between some US states. I imagine that there is some good natured rivalry between the provinces too. I am saddened by the loss of the Canadian soldiers, just as I have been by the needless loss of life with any military exercise. I know that I've been in situations where ordinance going over my position could have fallen short and I could have joined the ranks of "friendly fire" victims. The military is a difficult profession, even during the "good times" and gets much worse during the bad times.

    One of the fallen soldier's former commanders wrote a tribute to him that I would like to reprint here for those who are interested. I did edit one word to ensure that it could be printed on the bulletin board, but it is otherwise unchanged.

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    'King Marco' Ruled the Hearts of a Bosnian Village
    Canadian Press


    I had the pleasure of having worked with Sgt. Leger for two
    years when I commanded A Company (Parachute). He was a
    soldier of rare skill, compassion, and intellect.

    My most vivid memory of then-Master Cpl. Leger was during our
    tour in Bosnia in 2000. By that time, most of the
    International aid agencies had abandoned Bosnia for more
    exciting missions elsewhere, but the need was greater than
    ever because of the return of large numbers of displaced
    persons to their war-destroyed homes (and lives).

    Master Cpl. Leger had been given a particularly difficult area
    of responsibility (AOR) in a place called the Livno Valley.
    Here, Serbs who had been ethnically cleansed by their Croat
    neighbours were returning to shattered homes and destroyed
    lives. Despite the fact that it was beyond our mandate,
    Master Cpl. Leger felt that he had to do something to help
    these people; to him, it made no sense that he was enforcing a
    peace that kept these people living like refugees in their own
    homes.

    He began by doing little things, like constantly harassing his
    company commander (me) for resources to help these people. He
    took leftover and thrown away building supplies, and
    distributed these on patrol. He snuck food from the camp
    kitchen, and spirited off the camp water truck when no one was
    looking. The more he found to help with, the more he needed,
    as those villagers he was helping told their friends to return
    home, that the Canadians would help them. Soon, a shattered
    village began to rebuild.

    The Livno valley became Master Cpl. Leger's adopted home. He
    lived in the camp with the rest of us, but his heart and mind
    was always with 'his' people stuck in the bombed-out houses
    among mine-strewn fields. He could not accept that
    humanitarian aid agencies had simply left these people to fend
    for themselves. He began to badger the local UNHCR
    representative, and any aid agency that drove through the area
    was stopped by Master Cpl. Leger and given a lecture on the
    conditions and requirements for assistance.

    Finally, I explained to Master Cpl. Leger that to get any
    resources from UNHCR or any other aid agency, he was going to
    have to get their attention, and the only way to get their
    attention was to get the locals to appoint a mayor to plead
    their case directly. Seizing on the idea, Master Cpl. Leger
    organized a 'town hall' meeting with his people. He explained
    the realities and the requirements, and explained the need to
    choose a leader, a spokesperson. Unanimously, they chose him.

    Amused, he explained that he could not act as their
    spokesperson; he was a Canadian soldier - not a Bosnian
    politician. He explained the foreign concept of an election,
    and they all agreed that this was an excellent way to choose a
    new mayor. Again, Master Cpl. Leger was the unanimous choice.

    Less amused and more concerned, Master Cpl. Leger explained in
    detail that the mayor had to be one of them. He was
    ineligible. Finally, after much good-natured teasing and a
    quick lesson on the concept of democratic elections theory
    done through a bemused translator, the locals chose their
    mayor. But they immediately became a constitutional monarchy
    when, again by unanimous decision, they named Master Cpl.
    Leger their king. "King Marco" was to become Master Cpl.
    Leger's lasting title, both in the Livno Valley, and within
    the parachute company.

    In his advocacy for the plight of the Livno Valley, King Marco
    became the irresistible force that eventually wore away the
    immovable rocks of misunderstanding and apathy. Eventually,
    he became a spokesperson for returnees throughout the Canadian
    AOR, and his passion and his commitment made him an eloquent
    representative.

    I used to love to bring VIPs, like our British divisional
    commander, the American three-star commander of SFOR, or the
    Canadian ambassador to Radonovici in the Livno Valley for
    Master Cpl. Leger to brief. His forthright manner and common
    sense solutions made converts of them all, and I watched with
    pride as he stickhandled every question until even the most
    skeptical became his supporters. Eventually, with the support
    of the battle group commanding officer, Lt.-Col. Dave Barr,
    and the Canadian ambassador, a deal was struck that gave Leger
    (and other equally dedicated master corporals) the resources
    required to help Bosnians help themselves.

    Master Cpl. Leger's proudest day of the tour was when the
    first red tile roof went up in the Livno Valley, reversing a
    10-year cycle of destruction and despair. King Marco had
    brought hope back to the Livno Valley.

    I don't know what the Livno Valley looks like today. King
    Marco's empire may have returned to ruins, although I doubt
    that, as King Marco was as diligent in his succession as he
    was in his rule, something few rulers ever strive for or
    manage to achieve. I do know that for many, his compassion
    was truly and deeply heroic, and added to his already tall
    stature as a leader and soldier.

    For his work in the Livno Valley, Sgt. Leger was deservedly
    awarded a Chief of Defense Staff Commendation last year. He
    didn't think that he had done anything that anyone else
    wouldn't have done, and that many hadn't already done (but
    then, heroes seldom do think much of their efforts or
    achievements).

    What I find incredible is that Sgt. Leger was not all that
    different from every other trooper in my company. What I find
    even more surprising is how an institution as publicly
    maligned and neglected as the Canadian Army can continue to
    consistently attract and retain guys like Marc Leger. As
    historian Jack Granatstein has said of another Canadian Army
    at another time, it is probably a better organization than the
    people of Canada know or deserve. Marc Leger, and his fellow
    soldiers are, as the prime minister has already said, "the
    best face of Canada."

    He was a godd.mned hero, and we should all take our lead from
    his spirit and his actions.

    The King is Dead. Long Live the King.


    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Sgt. Marc (King Marco) Leger of
    Lancaster, Ont., was one of four Canadians killed April 18,
    2002, when a U.S. F-16 fighter dropped a bomb on members of
    the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry during a
    live-fire exercise in Afghanistan. Maj. Shane Schreiber, who
    serves in another unit of the Canadian Forces in Kandahar,
    wrote this tribute the day after Leger's death.

    --------------------------------------------

    With heartfelt sorrow for your loss, and a deep appreciation for the people of Canada, please accept this Yanks words of greetings and love to our friends to the north.
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  2. 1 Comments

  3. by   fergus51
    That's such a beautiful tribute. It is so nice to see a man like that honored like he deserves to be. Honestly with all the troubles in the Canadian military it's comforting and amazing to see a man like that who never became jaded or cynical. He's a good example for all of us.

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