The local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion thanked five Central Alberta reservists who served in the war in Afghanistan in a special welcome home ceremony at the legion on Saturday.
Red Deer Legion Branch #35 executive member Grant MacKay said the Canadians who served in Korea received little recognition for their service and the Legion did not want to repeat history with the veterans from Afghanistan.
“We have to really thank them,” said MacKay.
“A lot of them lost their lives. And there are still close to 1,000 troops over there training the Afghan people for their freedom. We’re hoping good results will happen here. We’re very, very thankful for all our troops. There is not enough words to say to the troops.”
Afghanistan Veterans Appreciation Day was commemorated by most Legion branches on Saturday across the country.
The legion expressed its gratitude to the serving men and women and their families for their dedication and commitment during the Afghanistan combat mission.
The chilling notes of the Last Post followed by two minutes of silence honoured the 157 members of the Canadian Forces that were killed in the line of duty during the mission.
Cpt. Robert Hammel of Olds was in Afghanistan for close to 10 months in 2009 where he worked in administration in his second tour.
He was in Bosnia during Canada’s peacekeeping mission in 2003.
Hammel said these events help raise the profile of the Canadian Forces and the soldiers.
As well, he said, the media coverage has been helpful to Canadian soldiers who are proud to be in the Canadian Forces.
“There’s a lot more awareness of the mission in Afghanistan than it was in previous missions,” said Hammel.
“Canadians in general are very thankful and appreciative of what we did over there.”
Major Jason Ross Snider, a reservist with the 78th Battery in Red Deer, served in Afghanistan for nine months, from February to September 2008. Snider said the ceremony was a nice gesture for reservists to be recognized by home communities.
In Afghanistan, Snider was on the observer mentor liaison team where he worked directly with Afghans including its army, police and government.
“When it comes down to Afghanistan itself, when I was there I saw the day to day help,” said Snider. “It is just a poor country. It’s poor beyond description compared to Canada. The people that are living in huts they built out of mud and straw. They build up the country to a certain degree . . . With any luck the multi-national mission over there will give that country a chance of stability.”
Also recognized from Central Alberta were Master Cpl. Dean Randall, Master Bombardier Matt Ubbing and Bombardier Aaron Forsythe. The veterans were given a one-year membership to the legion and the Legion Magazine, a cap and a certificate of appreciation.