OTTAWA — The matriarch of a prominent military family whose youngest son was killed 12 years ago in Afghanistan has been named this year’s National Silver Cross Mother by the Royal Canadian Legion.
Reine Samson Dawe of Kingston, Ont., will lay a wreath at the National War Memorial on Remembrance Day on behalf of all mothers who have lost children in service to Canada.
Capt. Matthew Dawe, 27, of the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, was one of six Canadian soldiers killed in Kandahar in July 2007 along with an Afghan interpreter when their armoured vehicle was struck by a powerful roadside bomb.
Dawe was one of the highest-ranking Canadian officers to die in Afghanistan to that point and was remembered afterward as a dedicated soldier and platoon commander who worked hard to recover from an Achilles tendon injury and deploy with his unit.
“He was determined to be with his ‘boys’ and share the danger,” the Legion said in a news release. “Matthew was always a positive example to his platoon — known as ‘1-2 can do’ — due to a willingness to volunteer for the toughest of assignments.”
He was killed the same day his son, Lucas, turned two. More than 2,000 people turned out for his funeral in Kingston; several military buildings in the city, as well as two annual awards, have since been named in his honour.
Matthew Dawe hailed from a military family that saw his father and three brothers also serve in uniform at various times. His father retired as a lieutenant-colonel while his oldest brother, Maj.-Gen. Peter Dawe, is currently commander of Canada’s special forces.
The Silver Cross was first authorized on Dec. 1, 1919, as a memento of personal loss on the part of widows and mothers of Canadian sailors, aviators and soldiers who died during the war.
The Silver Cross Mother is selected from nominations submitted by legion provincial commands and individuals.
Canada ended its 12-year military mission in Afghanistan in March 2014, though its combat role in southern Afghanistan ended in July 2011.
At its peak, Canada was the sixth largest troop-contributing nation, behind the U.S., Britain, Germany, France and Italy. It deployed more than 40,000 service members to Afghanistan since the mission began in 2001.
According to the Canadian government, 158 soldiers, one diplomat, one journalist and two civilian contractors were killed in Afghanistan.
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press