|As an introduction to our website, I would like to explain where our domain name came from. Since we were first warned-off for duty in Afghanistan, the first time Canadian troops have been committed to ground combat since the Korean War, everyone associated with the Immediate Reaction Force (Land) (IRF(L)) put an extraordinary effort into ensuring we would be successful in our mission. Every member of the Battle Group took on a sense of ownership for every task we faced, and each time their results exceeded everyone's expectations. Our Strathconas proved to be the centre of gravity in the defence of the Kandahar Airfield, providing 24 hour-a-day 360 degree perimeter surveillance, a QRF and security patrols everyday throughout the entire tour. Everything our Sappers touched turned to gold, and they had their hands in a lot of things: security tasks as infantry, survivability structures, mobility/counter-mobility, EOD and airfield infrastructure. Our gunners demonstrated exceptional flexibility and professionalism by filling a void left by the elimination of our Mortar Platoon, and declaring OPRED for the task after just a few short weeks of training leading up to Christmas 01. In Afghanistan, the soldiers of C Battery gave us an umbrella of guaranteed indirect fire everywhere we went. Our Forward Support Group literally worked miracles in providing combat service support to offensive operations that were launched on very short notice and ranged out several hundred kilometres from our firm base in Kandahar. Our Patricias demonstrated the skills, knowledge and robustness demanded of Light Infantry, which our Corps has been losing sight of with the introduction of the LAV. An exceptional staff that spent endless hours formulating and modifying countless plans, contingencies and events tied together all of this talent. There are simply too many people who played a vital part in our success, from individual riflemen to the DCO, for me to ever thank them individually for their awesome effort and self-sacrifice. This website is for them. They will forever be my heroes.
Stogransheroes.com is intended to be a focal point where the members of IRF(L) AFGHANISTAN can keep in touch. Coincidental with our mission in Afghanistan, I had the opportunity to meet with a friend whom I had served with as an UNMO in a combat zone ten years earlier. It was interesting for me to see that despite the passage of time, living worlds apart and with minimal correspondence over the years, we immediately bonded as if we had shared our experience together only yesterday. I suspect that many soldiers of this Battle Group will have forged similar bonds within Waters Bivouac and Camp 93. I hope that this website will facilitate casual reflection, correspondence or information passage for members of IRF(L) AFGHANISTAN 2002 and their families.
It would be remiss of me if I did not mention our families, because without their support we could never have focused so intently on our mission. From their perspective, they effectively said good-bye to their family members on 14 November 2001 when we started working 20 hour days getting ourselves to a high state of readiness, not-to-mention all the training that took us away from home in the months leading up to it. The Christmas and New Years break was rife with the trepidation of if, when, how and where we might deploy. When we did deploy, they had to face the uncertainty of when we were coming home. To all of us who served in Afghanistan, our families are the true heroes of the deployment.
Finally, our mission was not without tragedy. I shall never forget the events of 17 April and the aftermath, which tested the moral courage of every member of IRF(L) AFGHANISTAN. Our fallen comrades, their families and friends shall always be in my thoughts and prayers. Their loss was not in vain. This website should serve as a reminder to us all of their ultimate sacrifice for our country, and let us strive for excellence in their memory.
All the Way!