An Edmonton-based soldier who was killed in a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday is being remembered for his selfless service by residents of the Lacombe area where he grew up.
Master Cpl. Byron Greff, a member of the Third Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, was on a routine trip between training and headquarters bases in the Afghan capital of Kabul when a car packed with explosives rammed into a heavily armoured NATO bus known as a Rhino. It had been escorted by two heavily armed patrol vehicles.
Five NATO soldiers, eight civilian contractors and four Afghans were killed in the blast, and scores of others were wounded.
Barbara Burnett, president of the Royal Canadian Legion in Lacombe, said that unless family members let the legion know, it has no way of keeping track of which local residents are serving in overseas missions.
She personally didn’t know the Greff family, including his parents who still live in the area.
The legion executive will meet tonight to discuss whether a memorial, public or otherwise, should be held.
“We’ll probably do a memorial for him,” said Burnett on Sunday.
Greff, in his mid to late 20s, is the first Canadian to die in Afghanistan since the combat mission ended in July. Canada’s mission is now to train Afghan troops.
“Our tour is almost done there and then this happens,” said Burnett. “And he just had a child. It flabbergasts me. What do you say? It’s just sad.”
Lacombe city councillor Grant Creasey was also sad to hear the news.
“Certainly our hearts go out to the family,” he said.
Judy Gordon, former mayor of Lacombe, said it’s particularly sad when Greff would have been part of Canada’s last contingent in Afghanistan.
U.S. President Barack Obama decided earlier this year that 10,000 troops will leave by the end of 2011. He also announced that 33,000 troops to be withdrawn by the summer of 2012.
“That’s the worst part of strife and war is exactly this,” said Gordon. “If we knew everyone could come back, it might be more acceptable. But when we have things like this happen, it’s very tragic. I do feel for his family. I know all of Lacombe would express their condolences.”
Lacombe Mayor Steve Christie couldn’t be reached for comment on Sunday.
Reports are that Greff’s family was heading to Edmonton to await Greff’s return.
An uncle reached in Red Deer on Sunday declined comment.
Since 2002, 158 Canadian soldiers, one Canadian diplomat and Canadian journalist Michelle Lang have died in Afghanistan.
– copyright Red Deer Advocate