Yellow ribbons go up in Lacombe for soldier

Hundreds of yellow ribbons are being tied around posts in Lacombe as the community grieves for the loss of one of its own. Master Cpl. Byron Garth Greff, the 158th Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan, was remembered by Lacombe Mayor Steve Christie on Monday as a “good, respectful kid” who was friends with his Christie’s children.

Canadian soldiers carry the casket of Master Cpl. Byron Greff during a ramp ceremony at Bagram Airfield

Canadian soldiers carry the casket of Master Cpl. Byron Greff during a ramp ceremony at Bagram Airfield

Hundreds of yellow ribbons are being tied around posts in Lacombe as the community grieves for the loss of one of its own.

Master Cpl. Byron Garth Greff, the 158th Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan, was remembered by Lacombe Mayor Steve Christie on Monday as a “good, respectful kid” who was friends with his Christie’s children.

“I’ve known him for 17 years. He grew up in the same neighbourhood and was the same age as my kids. . . . He was energetic, always go-go-go. . . .”

While Christie doesn’t remember Greff ever talking about wanting to become a soldier when he was young, his enlistment in the Canadian Forces “made sense,” said the mayor. “When (Greff) was into something, he was always ready to sacrifice everything to get the job done and to get it done right.”

Christie believes Greff, a member of the Third Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry who was killed Saturday when his armed vehicle was rammed by a car rigged with explosives, joined the military “to protect us and he took the job very seriously.”

Greff was among five NATO soldiers, eight civilian contractors and four Afghans killed in the blast. Scores of others were wounded.

According to statement released by Greff’s family on Monday, it was a big shock to his relations when he enlisted, because they were not a military family.

“Byron, in his younger years, was probably as far away from being a military man as one could get. But we supported him and were all very happy that he had found his way to this new life and excelled at it.”

Greff, who graduated in 2001 from Lacombe Composite High School, was remembered for his sense of humour, his “wonderful laugh,” which could lighten the mood in any room, and his love of hockey — including teaching his young son the finer points of the game.

“Byron . . . was an amazing father, a wonderful husband. We want to stress how proud we are of him . . . there was never any doubt . . . he was doing what he wanted to do and he was good at it.”

Greff’s family thanked Canadians for their kind words of support. “It has been truly amazing to feel the love from everyone.”

Christie, who last spoke to Greff when the young soldier attended the 2010 Remembrance Day ceremony in Lacombe, said his death is a big blow to the Lacombe community — and to Christie’s own family.

“I’m still in shock and my kids are devastated,” said the mayor, who believes Lacombe is rallying around Greff’s parents and sister, who still live in the city. Greff’s brother is studying in Lethbridge.

There’s a “huge amount of love and compassion” being passed on, said Christie. Many residents have tied yellow ribbons around trees and posts as a sign of their support.

Greff’s wife, son and daughter live in Morinville. According to Capt. Christine Salt, public relations officer of the First Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, some immediate family members were en route to CFB Trenton in Ontario, where a repatriation ceremony will be held for the soldier’s remains.

There’s no word yet on when a local memorial service will be held.

lmichelin@www.reddeeradvocate.com

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