My Heart Breaks For My Friend
(please click on the Blue words to read more details about Warrant Officer Robert John Wilson)
You all know that my Husband Carl and my Son Alex are Canadian Military Reservists. Our family is so proud of them for their dedication to Canada and The Queen for taking on this part-time training for the security of our homeland.
Today as I write this I cry and cry.
When your family is in the military, whether they are a full-time soldier or a part-time soldier, you share an affinity with other military families. It is a giant fraternal family which connects you with many people.
Once your family is in the military, you feel like there are always a million arms reaching out to you holding you up, and patting you on the back, and cheering with you on the good days, and on the bad ones......the shoulders of those million arms all collectively slump, and every soldier fraternal family mourns a loss together, and through the sadness a tiny light glows and gets bigger and bigger. That light is a memory, a reason, a purpose and a hope. It is what keeps the troops going, what makes a soldier choose to do what they do.........LOVE, DEDICATION, A TRUE CALLING. Soldiers become soldiers because they have a calling. Yes, a calling. It is just like a religious calling. It is like God and soldiers make a deal. God blesses them with a love so great, that they are willing to lay down their lives for everyone's sake, so the rest of us can be at peace. So we can choose to be pacifists, and to sit comfortably in our homes and enjoy the privileges of this life each day. The soldier's love for their country is so great, that it compels them to go that next step further, and choose to serve.
I know in some places soldiers are conscripted and their ideals about their job are a bit different at first, but once they are doing their job they become bonded to the calling as well. There is no escaping the calling once the training begins.
Right now our Reservist unit has approximately 32 soldiers in dedicated combat in Afghanistan and Sudan. These soldiers are our friends. Folks we see every week when they are here. Most of them are close to my Son Alex's age. Many are not married. A few are a bit older and have wives and children.....A couple are old guys who have seen combat in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Croatia already.....
Here in Canada our reservists have always been trained well. They get more training than most American full-time military recruits. Canada has always trained their military reservists well, and always given them the option of attaching to a regular force unit and serving in battle. Our guys choose to serve. And our reservists choose to serve part-time at home, while doing their full-time carriers as well.......and these days our unit Brothers are taking leave from their full-time jobs to serve in battle. They are making a conscious choice to step away from the comforts that home provides, with job security and an easy life to fulfill their Calling in a whole and complete way. I think about this every single day.
I think about it because the Calling stretches beyond the brothers who serve. It leaches into the hearts of the family too. If Carl or Alex told me tomorrow they are stepping aside of this easy life to go to battle I would be fine with it because I know it is a choice they HAVE to make. One made because the calling and love of being a civil servant is too great for them just to hang back. It hurts a lot when people ask a soldier's family dumb questions like "Why would they choose to put themselves in harms way?" or to slight the war efforts by saying, "We have no business being there...."
Canadian Military is dedicated to NATO. We are peace keeping forces. Actually peace making...these days... but none-the-less our troops serve the world. They put themselves in harms way so the world has the luxuries it has today. And today, so Afghani people can have some freedoms from a life we could not imagine as we sit in our homes with our computers and browse the world wide web for mostly fun. A life where the basics of life are taken away from them forcibly and their lives are shattered by death and destruction daily....... we didn't start the mess, but or forces are compelled to take action towards stopping it!
So my long preamble is to bring me to the real reason I write today.
My Friend Has lost her Son.
Ann has been my Dr's Nurse for quite a long time. And because of my illness, our family sees her often. Our soldier light is our connection to her. Our conversations about her son and his service are our bond. She too is a soldier, only she serves in the Salvation Army. Dedicating her time and life to serve the community as her blessed calling. An absolutely lovely woman who has a heart bigger than you can imagine.
On December 5th, all the soldier families here took a moment from their day to stand in silence and say a prayer for more fallen comrads. We have been doing this a lot. On that day we marked our 100th soldier killed in battle while serving their calling, to serve NATO, to keep peace for the sake of the world. The 100th soldier that freely chose to give his life for everyone because they loved us all that much....!
I am so saddened that I didn't make the connection to the Soldier's name that day. For the media kept saying the unit was from Gagetown, and not Petewawa. So for some reason the name Warrant Officer Robert John Wilson did not register in my mind as someone we knew...Carl didn't make the connection either.
When I saw Ann yesterday I knew something was wrong. The saddness on her face was unbearable. Then she said to me, "You don't know, do you?" Then my heart sank. I knew then.
She shared some details with me about the process they went through after this. And we shared our words of comfort. "He was doing what he loved, he DID make a difference, and it was necessary he become a hero." And then a weird sad smile between us.
These last months we had talked often about this tour Rob was on. It was probably going to be his last one. He was a training officer and had many battle tours. But this one was really special. It was really dangerous because he was training Afghan soldiers how to fight for themselves. The most important job in peace keeping is to help that country stand on its feet and take the steps to freedom, and training the Afghan soldiers is one of the biggest steps to that perpetual freedom. Of course it is the most dangerous too, because those on the training battles will be specifically targetted by the enemy.
Please take a moment to imagine our soldiers in full battlement and training. With the years and years of time and dedicated service and knowledge of weaponry and tactics training people who didn't have running water or shoes or food on their table a few months ago. People who may not even be able to read, so they can learn how to use sofisticated weapons and tactics so save their own lives in the future. It is almost infathonable to imagine.
I read Rob was killed instantly in his armoured vehicle. INSTANTLY.
Instantly is an interesting word. Soldiers like to hear it. It gives them hope that their brother did not suffer. I will hold on to that hope.
But......mind you......I will take to my heart that instantly probably meant a death so hanus you want to shut off your mind to the possibilities.......think about that for a minute, and remember he served for YOU.
Please read this interview Rob did for the press in December:
Please read this article about Warrant Robert John Wilson at Hero Fund
Condolensces Guestbook for Warrant Officer Robert John Wilson
(please remember anti-military comments in a military guestbook are in bad taste)
As of this moment the CANADIAN DEATH TOLL IS 107