Soldiers in a festive mood

Even though Canada Day meant more missions to hunt for insurgents and roadside bombs along with an ambush for the commander of the forces in southern Afghanistan, Canadian soldiers still found peaceful ways to mark the country’s special day.

Trooper James Lavoie

Trooper James Lavoie

MA’SUM GHAR, Afghanistan — Even though Canada Day meant more missions to hunt for insurgents and roadside bombs along with an ambush for the commander of the forces in southern Afghanistan, Canadian soldiers still found peaceful ways to mark the country’s special day.

Members of Lord Strathcona’s Horses, for example, decked out their tanks with several small Maple Leafs that fluttered colourfully against the drab camouflage brown and green as the Leopards rolled out from this small forward operating base in the dangerous Panjwaii district.

Trooper James Lajoie, of Calgary, sporting a bright red tie with white maple leaf over his combat fatigues, joked his celebration would be to “stay alive.” He made no apologies for his non-regulation outfit.

“We got a whole bunch of good Canada stuff from home, so figured we’d put it on for the day, celebrate as much as we can, keep the spirits and morale high,” Lajoie said after taping a flag to the tank’s barrel.

While Lajoie said Canada Day was special, it was “good to be a Canadian every day.”

Meanwhile, Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance was spending his day visiting troops out at remote bases in Kandahar province’s Zhari district when he happened upon an ambush of a convoy of military and non-military equipment under private security escort.

“We heard the ambush start, and we moved up to investigate.

“We saw the ambush was happening, and tried to stop it, and they did,” Vance said.

Vance said his escort crew, which travels in a well-armed command convoy, killed several insurgents in warding off the ambush.

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