Thursday, June 13, 2013

"War At Home"

This song "War at Home" was written and dedicated by Josh Groban to our wounded soldiers. Thank you Mr. Groban for remembering our wounded.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Waterloo Air Show 2013

Pulling up close to the airport, I quickly noticed the organization and hard work put into preparing for this big event. Buses shuffled into position to shuttle people from their automobiles to the airfield. While on the bus, children sat behind me with their parents. I asked them what they were going to see? One quickly piped up "Airplanes!" His sibling interjected, "Dusty!" The conversation continued with them "I'm going to see Army!" Pulling up to the airfield their eyes opened wide as I could imagine the same as on Christmas morning.
The Static Display- "Wow"... and that was my exclamation. Before us on the tarmac sat a CC-130J Hercules. Walking into the shadows of the Hercules, I started reflecting on the purposes of this plane: It carries equipment, food for the soldiers.. and the many care packages sent by families. And then there were return flights home, repatriations. I stood at the foot of the ramp. A sadness quickly befell me as I looked up. I put one foot on the ramp and it was a strange feeling overcame me...I can't explain it. Faces of our fallen flashed before me, their families, their comrades walking up the ramp, saying goodbye, hearts tearing inside, yet trying to maintain composure. I turned back walked to the side and touched the body of the plane and saw the maple leaf - pride.
Deep breath - I continued up the alley. This was a great opportunity to meet up with and learn about aircraft from different parts of the world and speak with people, soldiers who eloquently and passionately spoke of the aircraft or vehicles they brought to the show. The Engineers' blue and red flag proudly fluttered in the wind above their display. In the tent were displays of IED's /  mines and equipment they use to find and destroy them. The RCA stood before a diverse display of artillery prepared to answer any questions.  Children eagerly opened doors of vehicles, shyly talked to soldiers... "army".   Walking along, there was so much to see. I thought I would run out of time! Helicopter rides by the Great Lakes Helicopter team, A B25 (which was featured in beginning of the movie Tora Tora Tora) called the Yankee Warrior.
It was built in 1945. They crew flew to the show in this. "There is heat in the cockpit area, but it got real cold out back during our flight." It along with the Yankee Lady are housed at the Yankee War Museum . "Come on down and see us!" There were many rides and amusements for the children. For the airshow, earplugs were being provided for the children no charge. (This is something that is usually I have found to be overlooked) A gentleman was walking around talking to the parents and directing them where to get protection for them.
The wafts of Food Truck delicacies filled the air. mmm...I stopped for an apple fritter and continued on to watch the show. The American Anthem was played in honour for all our visitors. Then the Canadian Anthem (Hockey Night in Canada theme song at first -and that was the beginning of the smiles)  

Richard Cooper, Waterloo Air Show Co-Producer started the show easily grabbing everyone's attention.in his Czechoslovakian L29 DelphinThe Czech designed and produced Aero L-29 Delphin (translating to "Dolphin"; NATO designation of "Maya") series was a highly utilized Cold War jet trainer aircraft for the Soviet Union and its satellite states. The twin-seat aircraft was capable of speeds over 400 miles per hour and a ceiling of over 36,000 feet.

Soon to follow were the aerobatics of  71 year old Gord Price flying his Russian Yak 50 (serial #1).

 The Yak 50 was built in 1972 at the Yakovlev Design Bureau in Moscow. Inscripted on his plane reads "The Dam Pub"  named after their Scottish Whiskey Pub in Thornbury, ON. His dream was always to fly. He flew many difficult manoeuvers this weekend from inverted flying to spins and when finished, descended down the ramp, climbed on his plane and refuelled it himself. I told him I wanted his energy!

The MAKO SHARK is one of the best known T33s in North America and it rounded the runway next. Bearing its menacing teeth and all.

 The T-33 is one of the most successful jet trainers of all time. When Canada decided to move to jet trainers Lockheed won the competition and Canadair awarded the contract to build the aircraft under license. The RCAF gave the T-33 the name Silver Star in honour of the first Canadian airplane, the Silver Dart. Read more

F1 Rocket Sport Wing Homebuilt Racing Aircraft (Little Bit) Wayne Hadath of Kitchener, flew his homebuilt F-1 Rocket Airplane. The top speed is approx. 275 mph. The Harmon F1 is well known for its unbelievable speed.  The video below takes you on a flight with Mr. Hadath and the "Little Bit"


CF-18 Hornet Demonstration Team's presence was one not very easily overlooked! Standing on the runway, I was quick to notice the large afterburners up to the nose reaching towards the sky.The team was very welcoming and polite, quickly offering to take my camera and take pics themselves (of me!) Soon, I took back my camera and took a picture a couple of the team.
Shown starting top left/clockwise: Captain Patrick Pollen waves as he taxis down the runway. Staring at the afterburners. F18 Hornet lifts off to the skies. Firefight demonstration (happy they're on our side). MCpl Theriault and MCpl Doucet stand before the F18.                                                                                                        Photos by M.M.

 This year, the CF-18's Demo Team's theme is  "The Common Thread" that ties Canadians of all backgrounds together. To embody this theme, this year's Demo Hornet displayed tail and dorsal art representing the diversity of our country that is united by "The Common Thread" . Canadians alike embrace peace, freedom and equality, and the Canadian Armed Forces makes it a priority to defend these values. Every day, airmen and air women conduct aerial sovereignty, reconnaissance and surveillance patrols, carry out search and rescue operations, and defend North American airspace through NORAD. From the vast Arctic reaches to the homeland that lies between Canada's coasts, the Royal Canadian Air Force is proud to be part of defending "The Common Thread" of this great nation. Top speed: 1814 km/hr. Mach 1.8

As the F18 was landing, the noise of the Canadian Forces Griffon was heard approaching.  

Visiting from Borden, the Griffon can carry up to 13 people (two pilots, a flight engineer and 10 passengers) and has a maximum gross weight of nearly 5400 kilograms. The Griffon can reach speeds up to 260 kilometres per hour. It is also used at home and abroad for search and rescue (SAR) missions, surveillance and reconnaissance, casualty evacuation and counter-drug operations. The helicopter has also played a key role in many national and international humanitarian relief operations, including those for Manitoba’s Red River flood in 1997 (Operation Assistance) and in 2011 (Op Forge); Eastern Canada’s ice storm in 1998 (Operation Recuperation); and the United Nations effort to stabilize Haiti in 2004 (Operation Halo) and again in response to the catastrophic earthquake that struck Port-aux-Prince in January 2010 (Op Hestia). The CH‑146 Griffon helicopters deployed on Operation Jaguar in 2011 as Canada’s contribution of military aviation and search-and-rescue capability to support the Jamaica Defence Force.
When it joined Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing, deployed on Operation Athena, the Griffon utility tactical transport helicopter helped reduce the risk of exposing personnel to ambushes, land mines and improvised explosive devices by providing increased protection to movement of troops by transport helicopter and road convoys.

To Be Continued..... Under construction

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

D Day Vigil 2013

D Day Vigil 2013


June 6th, 2013

at 1300 (1:00 p.m.)


Parliament Hill, Ottawa

“It’s an abject betrayal by the government of Canada and that’s all there is to it.” Major Mark Campbell, Afghanistan, double amputee amongst other serious injuries.
This is what happens when elected representatives fail to fulfill the Sacred Obligation they bear for those they send to war.
On June 6th, between 13-1345, veterans and politicians will gather on the steps of Parliament Hill where the disparities of respect between the valiant who fought at Juno Beach and courageous Canadians who fought in the Panjawaii Valley and the obligation that WE, we as Canadians, have to those who stand on guard for thee.
Join with many voices, one message - restore the Sacred Obligation, veterans will prevail and the spirit of this nation, a spirit forged in blood, courage, great sacrifice at Juno Beach, will be accorded to those who have sacrificed so much in Canada's name, in Kabul, Khandahar and the blood stained Panjawaii Valley.

Canadian blood. Canadian Sacrifice Lest we Forget.

The CVA will be supporting Col Ret Pat Stogran's Singing for Change event at Darcy McGee's later that evening. Funds raised will be dedicated to Wounded Warriors.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Pilots are Here!

The tents are up, the lawn is being cut, the Snowbird Jets are lined up and ready to go for the Waterloo Regional Airshow this weekend!

Snowbirds reflected in the Air Traffic Control Tower at Waterloo Reg. Airport
Photo by: mm
Grass is being cut adjacent to runways
Snow Birds Lined Up and Ready to Fly!  Photo By: mm
Waterloo Air Show & Canadian Aviation Expo
 June 1st & 2nd, 2013
Gates open 10 am - 5 pm. The Air Show starts at 1:00 pm

The line up is growing!

The 2013 CF-18 Demo Team is pleased to announce this year's theme: "The Common Thread" Canada’s rich diversity is among its greatest strengths. In 2013, the team celebrates “The Common Thread” that ties Canadians of all backgrounds together. Despite our differences, Canadians alike embrace peace, freedom and equality, and your Canadian Armed Forces makes it a priority to defend these values. Every day, airmen and air women conduct aerial sovereignty, reconnaissance and surveillance patrols, carry out search and rescue operations, and defend North American airspace through NORAD. From our vast Arctic reaches to the homeland that lies between our coasts, the Royal Canadian Air Force is proud to be part of defending the “The Common Thread” of this great nation. To embody this theme, this year’s Demo Hornet will display tail and dorsal art representing the diversity of our country that is united by “The Common Thread”. The artwork was created by veteran graphic design director Jim Belliveau of 410 Squadron at Cold Lake, Alberta, who is celebrating his 20th year as the CF-18 Demo Team design director. The CF-18 Demo Team looks forward to honouring Canadians who share “The Common Thread” and representing all Canadian Forces personnel – soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen alike - during the 2013 air show season.

RCAF CC-130J "Hercules" transport aircraft will be on static display during this year's show on June 1st and 2nd at the Region of Waterloo International Airport.
The Hercules has been a part of Canada's strategic airlift fleet since 1960.  The "J" model is the newest and, essentially, a completely new aircraft.   The new "Hercs" fly faster, higher and farther, and they carry heavier loads while burning less fuel. They can use shorter landing and take-off fields and their climb time is reduced by up to 50 per cent compared to the older models. They deliver cutting edge technology to provide the Canadian Forces with a modern, cost-effective, operationally-proven tactical airlift capability.
Not only is the new Hercules a more capable aircraft, it also requires fewer crew members than the older Hercules; it flies with a minimum crew of three – two pilots and a loadmaster – compared to five on the older Hercules.
UPDATE: What's better than one Hercules?  2 Hercules will be on display. The J and an older H model. Don' miss your chance to tour the aircraft, inside and out.
Discount admission tickets are available on-line.  Go to WATERLOOAIRSHOW.COM for details

DUSTY -- the main character from Disney's new
summer movie "Planes" has been added to our list of acts!
His only Canadian appearance!
On August 9th, Disney will be releasing "Planes", an action-packed 3D animated comedy adventure featuring Dusty, a plane with dreams of competing as a high-flying air racer. "Planes",  following the popularity of "Cars" in 2006, captures the thrill and excitement that flying has to offer.

Dusty, the main character, will be performing at the Waterloo Air Show, June 1 & 2. Dusty will come to life with the help of a Texas-based Air Tractor AT-301 and a customized paint scheme. Fittingly, Air Tractors are used for agricultural purposes.

"Disney's Planes" is a great underdog story. Dusty is a crop duster who's never flown above 1,000 feet, but he dreams of being the fastest air racer in the world.  He has a lot of obstacles to overcome and needs to dig pretty deep to find the courage to become more than he was built for. A wonderfully inspirational story for kids of all ages.

Discount advance tickets can be purchased at WATERLOOAIRSHOW.COM

KIDS - Ever want to make the perfect paper airplane? Click here

Canadian Harvard Aircraft

The all-volunteer Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association was born in 1985 at a small grass airstrip in Woodstock, Ontario, from the dreams of a handful of Harvard lovers who were determined to keep the legend of the Harvard alive. The Mission of the organization is to acquire, preserve, restore, maintain, display and demonstrate the Harvard and all other aircraft associated with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Jet Aircraft Museum T-33 "Mako Shark"

The Mako Shark returns to provide an aerial demonstration of the T-33 Silver Star jet trainer.
The Jet Aircraft Museum, headquartered nearby in London is dedicated to preserving and flying vintage jets.


Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association

The all-volunteer Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association was born in 1985 at a small grass airstrip in Woodstock, Ontario, from the dreams of a handful of Harvard lovers who were determined to keep the legend of the Harvard alive. The Mission of the organization is to acquire, preserve, restore, maintain, display and demonstrate the Harvard and all other aircraft associated with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Canadian Forces Snowbirds

We are very pleased that the Canadian Forces Snowbirds will return to Waterloo during their 2013 season. Their incredible 9-plane aerial aerobatics will dazzle audiences of all ages. Stick around for autographs after their show!


Every Want to Take that Perfect Picture at an Airshow? At the Waterloo Airport, come visit the "Locked on Photography" booth for a 10 minute tutorial!

Locked On Photography and The Waterloo Air Show Present

Air Show Photography 101

A series of mini workshops being held during the Waterloo Air Show that focus on how you can catch the perfect shot of your favourite air show performers.

The 10 minute Workshops run every ½ hour at the Locked On Photography booth starting at 10:30 until 12:30

Topics Include:
-        Don’t Just Stand There!: Hot Spots To Shoot
-        Tips for Shooting Static Aircraft
-        Perfect Equipment On a Budget
-        Post Processing: Where The Fun Begins
-        The World Beyond “Auto Mode”
-        Clean Up The Mess: The Magic of Cloning Tools

Drop by the booth to see the schedule of workshops throughout the day that will be running until the performers start.
Vist Locked On Photography
Remember to get your advance tickets at WATERLOOAIRSHOW.COM

Meet the Pilot

On Friday morning at 10:30 before the show takes off you can get meet the pilot, Captain Patrick "Flocho" Pollen at THEMUSEUM in Kitchener. Learn first hand what's it like to fly a CF-18 Hornet from one of the best in the business.  Flocho will also talk about the theme of this year's CF-18 Demonstration Team "The Common Thread"
More information HERE .
Don't forget to purchase your discounted Air Show tickets at WATERLOOAIRSHOW.COM

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Largest Military Parade Ever Organized

Commemoration of the Battle of YorkThis Saturday, April 27th,  Toronto will be holding the largest military parade ever organized. They will be honoring all those who died in the Battle of York and all those who have died in the 200 years since. Many of our soldiers based in our area will be in attendance and participating in the parade. There will be many events and activities held throughout the day. I have posted details below about the parade and the link to activities and events follow.

Military Parade and Colour Presentation
Presentation of A New Colour to the Royal Canadian Regiment 10 am. - Legislative Assembly, Queen's Park

Military Parade -  11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. - Begins at Legislative Assembly and ends at Fort York
In one of the largest military parades ever organized in Toronto, the Canadian Forces will honour all of those who died on our soil at the Battle of York on April 27, 1813 and the 200 years of military presence in Toronto since the war. More than 1,000 sailors and soldiers from the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Army will march from Queen's Park down University Avenue and across Richmond Street, south on Portland Street past the War of 1812 monument and then on to the Fort York Armoury. The parade will include 13 marching bands, and a flourish of colourful ceremonial uniforms and Regimental Colours.
For all other activities and ceremonies planned: CLICK HERE

Thursday, April 18, 2013

5th Annual Waterloo Air Show 2013

5th Annual Waterloo Air Show
Tickets on Sale NOW online
Photo by: M.M.

DATE: Saturday, June 1 and Sunday, June 2

TIME: Gates open 10am - 5pm (9am for Air Show Insiders and pilots). Air Show begins at 1pm.

WHERE: Region of Waterloo International Airport,

4881 Fountain St N, Breslau

View Larger Map
General Admission                          $25 (buy online and save)
Children 5-12                                     $10 (buy online and save)
Seniors (65+)                                     $15 (buy online and save)
Children under 5                                FREE
Veterans:                                            FREE (with proper ID) (escorts pay admission)
VIP Sky Chalet Tent:       $150 (Air Show Insiders: $125) (advanced online sales only; limited tickets)
Includes: 1 onsite parking, VIP tent with tables and chairs, catered lunch, 2 alcohol tickets and cash bar, centre stage viewing, 2014 calendar, performer autographs.
PARKING: Options available: FREE (with a walk) and PAID (off-site with shuttle service)
New this year: the Canadian Aviation Expo joins us air show weekend
New acts: incredible wing walking and a flame-billowing jet car


Returning favourites: Snowbirds and CF-18 Demonstration jet

Tickets go on sale Friday, April 19

This year’s Waterloo Air Show is bigger and better than ever with new acts, a bigger static display, Food Truck Alley and the inclusion of the Canadian Aviation Expo, Canada’s premier aviation expo and trade show.
The Canadian Aviation Expo
The Waterloo Air Show is excited to announce it is teaming up with the Canadian Aviation Expo this year, meaning two events are coming together at one location.
The annual Canadian Aviation Expo is Canada’s premier aviation expo and trade show.  Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Expo features many displays and vendors catering to the aviation world. Guests can explore a huge selection of aviation products and new aircraft. Plus the Expo offers a ‘Fly-In’ which may see upwards of 200 small, private aircraft ‘flying in’ for the day.
While the air show’s primary audience is families, the Expo’s primary target is pilots and people in the aviation/aerospace industries. Together, the two events cater nicely to a wide range of audiences.
In the past, the Expo has taken place in various locations in the Greater Toronto Area including Downsview Park in Toronto, Oshawa airport and most recently Hamilton airport.
The Air Show
This year’s line up of acts has returning favourites and exciting new additions. Headlining the show will once again be the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, and also from the Canadian Forces will be this year’s painted CF-18 Demonstration jet, representing the 2013 season’s theme: The Common Thread.
Airshow Line Up: 
  • The Canadian Snowbirds - 9 plane aerobatic formations
  • CF-18 Demonstration Jet- Canada's frontline fighter jet -2013 Theme: The Common Thread
  • Jane Wicker Wing Walking
  • Smoke-N-Thunder Jet Car Demo
  • Gord Price - Russian Yak 50 (serial number 01)
  • T-33 Silver Star "Mako Shark"
  • Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association 4 Plane formation team
  • F1 Rocket - Wayne Hadath
  • Rick Volker - U.S. aerobatic performer pulling up to 11G's
  • L29 Delfin -owned and flown by Waterloo Air Show Co-producer Richard Cooper
  •           Pyro- Kaboom! Catch the Wall of Fire as the CF-18 fighter jet speeds past
The Static Display
This year’s static display will be bigger than ever as the Waterloo Air Show arranges for aircraft to fill the tarmac for people to see up close, take photos and speak to the pilots and crew. These are aircraft parked all weekend, and are in addition to the aircraft flying in the show.
From the Royal Canadian Air Force we are expecting Harvard II and Hawk training aircraft from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; a Griffon helicopter from base Borden; and a Dash-8 “Gonzo” navigational trainer from Winnipeg.
Additional static includes a historic array of World War Two-era bomber and transports from American air museums, such as the B-17 Flying Fortress (heavy bomber), B-25 Mitchell (medium bomber), TBM Avenger (carrier-based torpedo bomber), C-123 Provider (military cargo/transport airlift), Douglas AC-47 ‘Spooky’ (ground support; military version of DC3), and a C-46 Curtiss Commando ‘Tinker Belle’(transport; only one not owned by Ice Pilots). There will also be a twin-engine Beech 18 and an Albatross, an amphibious aircraft currently used for search & rescue.

Additional Fun
This two-day family event will offer additional entertainment and activities including displays, vendors, a kid’s amusement area, an Autograph Tent, and licensed areas.
Bring your chairs and cameras out to the Region of Waterloo International Airport
 and let your wings soar!








Sunday, November 04, 2012

Veteran's Week 2012

On Sunday, November 4th, I had the opportunity to join citizens of Waterloo Region as they took time to remember and honour our Veterans at a memorial ceremony at Veteran’s Green Park in Waterloo. Represented were veterans from the army, navy and air force as well as the Cadets from our area.   Veterans' Week is a time when Canadians honour those who have sacrificed to defend Canada's values of freedom and democracy and is a time to remember all Canadian Veterans and honour those who serve today. We commemorate the sacrifices and achievements of our brave Canadians whose legacy is the peace and security we continue to enjoy as Canadians.

Today's event included an assembly at the memorial, a traditional Veteran’s Day service ministered by Rev. Paul Ellingham, Last Post and Revelle by Lt Chris Patterson, and a wreath-laying ceremony. The sound of the bagpipes resonated throughout the area of the Lament as Adam Annandale approached the flag that sadly waved at half mast. 

This upcoming Veterans' Week (November 5th-11th), take time to remember by attending a Remembrance Day ceremony, visiting a local cenotaph or monument, sharing your thoughts of remembrance online, or wearing a poppy with pride. Learn more and find remembrance events and activities in your area at veterans.gc.ca.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Wishing all our troops, here and abroad

a Happy Canada Day!

We are always by your side!

Ministers MacKay and Fantino Celebrate Canada Day with Troops in Afghanistan
 AFGHANISTAN--(July 1, 2012) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Julian Fantino, Associate Minister of National Defence, and Major-General Jonathan Vance, Director of Staff, Strategic Joint Staff, were in Afghanistan today to celebrate Canada Day with Canadian Forces members deployed in support of Op ATTENTION, Canada's contribution to the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan.

"It is with the utmost pride that I have the opportunity to celebrate Canada Day with the brave men and women of the Canadian Forces," said Minister MacKay. "Our personnel serving in Afghanistan continue to make great strides in their mission. Their strength, perseverance and leadership are a source of pride and inspiration for Canadians everywhere, and remind of the greatness that our country can achieve."

"I am honoured to celebrate Canada Day among some of Canada's best and bravest here in Afghanistan," said Minister Fantino. "The effort, integrity and unparalleled dedication of all Canadian Forces members to the fulfillment of their mission whether at home or abroad is truly remarkable."

"Every time I return to Afghanistan I see the improvement that the combined work of Afghans and Canadians are making to the country," said Major-General Vance. "Efforts to improve conditions are apparent everywhere - and our Canadian Forces members continue to do incredible work, contributing to Afghanistan's future. I am proud to be with them here on Canada Day."

During their visit, Ministers MacKay and Fantino met with Canadian Forces leadership and personnel, attended a medal ceremony for Canadian troops, met with Afghanistan's Minister of the Interior Bismillah Khan Mohammadi and participated in a town hall meeting. Minister MacKay also met with General John Allen, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force, and with General Abdul Rahim Wardak, Afghanistan's Minister of Defence. The visit today concluded with a Canada Day BBQ and entertainment. Canadian Forces members were entertained by Glass Tiger, comedian Kelly Taylor, singer-songwriter Liz Coyles, and had an opportunity to meet former hockey players Tiger Williams and Mark Napier as part of a Team Canada visit to Afghanistan

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

GI Film Festival Includes Canadian Soldier Marc Diab Documentary

The parents of deceased Canadian soldier Marc Diab, mother Jihani Diab and father Hani, take a moment at home with a picture of their late son, Marc. The Canadian trooper was killed three years ago in Afghanistan by an IED.
The parents of deceased Canadian soldier Marc Diab, mother Jihani Diab and father Hani, take a moment at home with a picture of their late son, Marc. The Canadian trooper was killed three years ago in Afghanistan by an IED.
Colin McConnell/Toronto Star  Mary OrmsbyFeature Writer
Written for The Toronto Star
Young Marc Diab and his family would halt, standing still on the roadside, whenever Israeli tanks lurched through the streets of their Lebanese village in the 1990s.
In the security zone along the Israel-Lebanon border, the military vehicles were a steel-plated reminder of the region’s political instability, an uncertain state in which some Ain-Ebel villagers saw no future.
But in those tanks, filled with gun-toting troops, little Marc saw his: life as a soldier.
“He used to say, even back in Lebanon when we used to have the Israeli army go through our streets all the time, ‘I want to be a soldier, I want to be a soldier,’” recalls eldest sister Jessica Diab, 30, of the time her brother was about 8.
But Diab would not fight for Lebanon, where an only son is not permitted to enlist. He became a soldier in Canada, the peaceful country that lured his family from Ain-Ebel to Mississauga 12 years ago. But the soldier — who would die in Afghanistan at age 22 — carried a secret. A premonition of his death. One so strong that he made a farewell video for his family and entrusted a friend to show it at his funeral.
To see video footage the day of the funeral, click here
Diab’s extraordinary story is the focus of an award-winning documentary If I Should Fall, which was invited to the GI Film Festival in Washington, D.C. Directed by 24-year-old Brendon Culliton of London, Ont., it will premiere Thursday at the Canadian Embassy before nearly 200 guests, including Pentagon officials.
On March 8, 2009, Trooper Marc Diab of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, Squadron D, based in Petawawa, became the 112th of 158 Canadians to die during Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan. (See blog entry)
When Diab died, his LAV III crippled by an improvised explosive device, he left behind front-line video diaries.
A camera junkie, Diab’s calm narrative beneath images of the inane and the tragic — including the battlefield helicopter removal of his friend, Trooper Brian Good, killed Jan. 7, 2009, in an IED attack — is part of the emotional wallop Culliton delivers in the documentary. Two more Squadron D troopers, Corey Hayes and Jack Bouthillier, were killed two weeks after Diab.
Brandon L. Millett., co-founder of the GI Film Festival, says Culliton’s film was chosen because it’s a “beautifully crafted story about one Canadian family.”
“It is such a moving demonstration of how sacrifice and suffering are a universal experience for military families around the world,” Millett says of the feature-length film.
“Those who attend this film screening will never forget Trooper Marc Diab and the sacrifice he made for his country and for the cause of freedom.”
But there was more to Trooper Diab than soldiering.
He organized children’s summer camps through his Maronite Catholic Church, Our Lady of Lebanon. He coached youth soccer in Petawawa. Learned to play music by ear, filling family gatherings with Arabic melodies or modern rock on a Yamaha keyboard.
Diab wrote poetry. He harangued his restaurateur brother-in-law to open a shawarma joint in Petawawa because ethnic food choice was limited. He produced videos and had more than 3,000 photographs stored at home. He threw chocolates and candies to Afghan kids, even when they threw back stones.
Diab was also a loving boyfriend.
In the documentary, there’s a home video of Diab and girlfriend Mary Barakat in a car, carefree, the wind ruffling their hair on a sunny day.
They lean toward each other and share a soft, yielding kiss. She is joyful, radiant, because he has made her so.
A CANADIAN soldier’s life was cheap in Afghanistan.
A few dollars’ worth of materials — fertilizer, diesel fuel, a detonator — and the highly effective IED was ready to kill. Such homemade bombs caused most of the 158 Canadian casualties, most of the horrific maimings, most of a wide range of physical injuries that included mild to severe brain traumas from the shock-wave effect.
But roadside bombs were Plan B, says retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie.
MacKenzie says Taliban fighters were no match for Canadian combat troops in face-to-face engagements around Kandahar in 2005 and early 2006, when insurgents were “soundly trounced.”
“Not being stupid,” MacKenzie says, the Taliban rethought their strategy.
“They stepped back one rung on the ladder of escalation and that step back in any number of insurgencies becomes the booby trap,” MacKenzie explains.
It’s a method that allows detonation from afar — a cellphone, for instance, can trigger an IED. Some are pressure sensitive. A booted foot, a tank, will do.
Canadian troopers like Diab would have known those risks, says Maj. Ray Wiss, a veteran emergency physician who served in Afghanistan in 2007 and is the author of two books recounting his combat experiences.
“We do train for almost a year to go on one of these tours — and it’s made pretty clear to them they’re not all coming home,” says Wiss, who was previously a Canadian Forces combat soldier.
The Sudbury doctor does quick calculations. Of the 3,000 Canadians deployed to Afghanistan at any given time, about 1,000 were combat troops. The rest were support personnel.
Wiss figures there was about a 2 per cent chance of a Canadian being killed and another 2 per cent chance of being “very badly mangled.”
“You knew that going in,” Wiss says.
Diab was comfortable with those odds, says his father, Hani.
“I would tell Marc, ‘I’m a brave man in words, I am a strong man, but you did it. To wear the uniform and to take a gun and go make a change somewhere in the world, this is something noble. I couldn’t do what you’re doing,’” Hani Diab recalls telling his son.
“He had guts.”
Sitting calmly in a convoy’s lead vehicle took guts.
“All things being equal, the first vehicle is the most vulnerable,” says Wiss.
Diab was in the lead vehicle the day of his death. In the documentary, his fellow troops recall their fun-loving buddy was not himself. Tired. Quiet.
Did Diab sense his death was imminent? Or was he merely fatigued, his six-month tour due to end in three weeks?
The bomb rocked Diab’s armoured vehicle around 1:15 p.m. local time, north of Kandahar City. Four others were injured, three of them badly. Diab was dead, his omnipresent camera beneath his body, destroyed.
Diab’s body was saluted by throngs of Canadians lining bridges, many from the Lebanese-Canadian community, along the Highway of Heroes en route to the coroner’s office in downtown Toronto. About 1,000 people attended his funeral mass, during which Diab’s farewell video was shown.
His parents had no idea it existed.
Their son had edited silent images of family and friends, played to music. It closed with words he’d written for them:
“Don’t cry . . . ’cause I’ll see you tomorrow.”
SUNDAY WILL BE Jihan Diab’s fourth Mother’s Day without her son, Marc.
She turned 50 on Wednesday. Festive birthday balloons taped to the walls by daughters Jessica and Maya are still up a day later, save for one. Four-year-old grandson Anthony is madly hoofing the balloon around the spacious, sun-filled home, kicking it like a soccer ball.
Anthony looks very much like his uncle. Large brown eyes, thick dark lashes, a shock of curly black hair.
Jihan is elegant, poised, in this lasting grief. She speaks strongly. Even though tears begin to flow, she does not falter.
“I am a happy mother, reaching this age, raising up a good family. I know Marc is not with us physically but he doesn’t leave us,” she says.
“I don’t deal with my loss as a loss. It’s too complicated to explain. I miss his presence, I miss his smell, I miss his touch and hug and this mother-son feeling. But, at the same time, I know that the minute I lost Marc physically, I tried to ask why. Everybody asks. ‘Why me? Why? Why?’”
She pauses for a moment. Hani, her husband, is silent, respectful.
“I closed my eyes, I saw Jesus. I saw a light. I could never explain how. And I saw Marc’s face beside Jesus. So that is when I said: ‘That’s it. I am not supposed to mourn Marc, I am going to live Marc. This is how I will honour him. I will live Marc.’”
As a family, the Diabs are active in keeping their son’s memory alive.
That shawarma joint Marc wanted? It’s now reality. The extended Diab family opened Madameek (a Lebanese word for “many bricks,” Jihan Diab says, meaning strength and protection) in 2010.
It’s a place that honours not only their son but all Canadians who died in Afghanistan.
“We see families from all over Canada,” Hani says, proudly.
“From Kingston, they come to eat in Petawawa, to see Marc’s story, to live it, to see all the pictures in the restaurant. We have all fallen soldiers’ pictures in the restaurant because (it’s) not only dedicated to Trooper Marc Diab, it’s dedicated to Trooper Marc Diab and all the fallen heroes in Afghanistan.”
Two months ago, the Diabs opened a second Madameek in Pembroke.
Closer to home, a stone monument tucked into the Diabs’ front lawn gracefully calls attention to their son. His image and the words “Our hero, son, trooper” are inscribed on a plaque. Jihan’s licence plate is: MARCDIAB.
There is a website, marcdiab.com full of photos and information; a children’s foundation in his name; a Mississauga memorial park christened for him, just a few minutes from the Diab home. Last year at the Hershey Centre, his family was honoured at a hockey game, Hani dropping the ceremonial faceoff puck.
Culliton hopes If I Should Fall finds a wider audience to educate the Canadian public about what military families endure during combat missions and, in this case, after a death.
“Even though this film is like an emotional roller-coaster, at no point do I want people to be uncomfortably sad,” says Culliton, who is donating DVD proceeds to the Marc Diab Children’s Foundation and the Military Families Fund.
“I want people to walk away and let it stay with you.”

DVD "If I Should Fall" is available for purchase

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Proceeds from DVD sales go towards
The Marc Diab Children's Foundation and The Military Families Fund