Governor General announces the awarding of Military Valour Decorations, Meritorious Service Decorations and a Mention in Dispatches
February 6, 2007
OTTAWA—Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, announced four Military Valour Decorations to members of the Canadian Forces who have displayed gallantry and devotion to duty in combat. She also announced two Meritorious Services Decorations (Military Division) and one Mention in Dispatches to individuals whose specific achievements have brought honour to the Canadian Forces and to Canada.
The recipients will be invited to receive their insignia at a presentation ceremony to be held at a later date.
Please note that the rank used in this document reflects the substantive rank held by the member at the time of the incident:
MILITARY VALOUR DECORATIONS
STAR OF MILITARY VALOUR
MEDAL OF MILITARY VALOUR
MERITORIOUS SERVICE DECORATIONS (military division)
MERITORIOUS SERVICE CROSS
MERITORIOUS SERVICE MEDAL
MENTION IN DISPATCHES
The citations for the recipients can be found on our web site at www.gg.ca . Additional information on the Military Valour Decorations (Annex A),the Meritorious Service Decorations (Annex B) and Mentions in Dispatches (Annex C) are attached.
Major William Hilton Fletcher, S.M.V., C.D.
As Officer Commanding C Company, Task Force Afghanistan, from January to August 2006, Major Fletcher repeatedly demonstrated extraordinary bravery by exposing himself to intense fire while leading his forces, on foot, to assault heavily defended enemy positions. On two occasions, the soldiers at his side were struck by enemy fire. He immediately rendered first aid and then continued to head the subsequent assaults. On these occasions and in ensuing combat actions, his selfless courage, tactical acumen and effective command were pivotal to the success of his company in defeating a determined opponent.
Corporal John David Makela, M.M.V.
On October 16, 2006, Corporal Makela prevented a fatal attack on his combat logistics patrol by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. As the turret gunner providing overwatch for the convoy, he accurately identified the approaching suspicious vehicle as a suicide bomber car. Despite the likely potential of an explosion, he maintained his exposed position and applied fire, resulting in the premature detonation of the bomber car. The explosion engulfed Corporal Makela’s vehicle and seriously burned him. His valiant and courageous actions inevitably prevented the bomber from reaching his intended target and saved the lives of the other soldiers in the convoy.
Captain Derek Prohar, M.M.V.
Assigned as liaison officer with the United States Special Forces in Afghanistan during the battle at Sperwan Ghar, from September 5 to 12, 2006, Captain Prohar operated as the rear machine gunner on the battalion commander’s vehicle. He was wounded by an improvised explosive device during an intense enemy ambush. Despite his injuries, he continued returning fire and assisted the commander with the control of the attack, which resulted in the successful seizing of key terrain. Captain Prohar’s courage and actions earned him the respect of the allied soldiers of the United States Special Forces.
Major Michael Charles Wright, M.M.V., C.D.
On the night of August 19, 2006, Major Wright of Alpha Company, Task Force Afghanistan, demonstrated outstanding courage and exceptional leadership in combat. Directed to move to the Panjwayi District Centre to enhance security, his troops were rapidly engaged and encircled by a significantly larger enemy force. Under intense fire from small arms and rocket-propelled grenades coming from all directions, he refused reinforcements for safety reasons and led his embattled force to outmanoeuvre the enemy, inflicting serious enemy casualties. His courage and his leadership led to the defeat of a much larger enemy force without a single Canadian Forces casualty.
General James L. Jones, M.S.C.
Since 2003, General Jones of the United States Marine Corps has provided outstanding leadership to NATO at a critical time in the Alliance’s history. During his mandate as Supreme Allied Commander Europe, NATO’s operations in Afghanistan expanded to include the entire country, and thousands of Canadian military personnel served under his command. Although operating at the highest strategic level, General Jones has always had the interests of individual soldiers at heart. He has invariably been responsive to Canadian concerns and has provided strong support to Canadian commanders in theatre. His service to NATO and to our military personnel has brought great benefit to the Canadian Forces and to Canada.
Colonel Richard Stephen Williams, M.S.M.
From May to November 2006, Colonel Williams of the United States Army applied dogged determination, as well as outstanding leadership to ensure that Task Force Grizzly performed to exceptional standards. As deputy commander of the Multinational Brigade - Regional Command South, in Afghanistan, he coordinated combat enablers and implemented quick impact reconstruction projects in the battle space. His combined experience in the area of operations, his knowledge of resources and his well-established relations with high-ranking officials and key leaders of Afghanistan served to directly support the strategic goals of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. A tireless advocate for the region, Colonel Williams has brought great credit to the United States, to the Canadian Forces and to Canada.
Sergeant Christopher Marc Schmidt, C.D.
On June 19, 2006, Sergeant Schmidt was assisting a Romanian military unit conducting a perimeter patrol in Kandahar, Afghanistan, when the lead vehicle struck an anti-tank mine and was disabled. In the commotion that ensued, a Romanian soldier tripped over an anti-personnel mine. Despite the resulting confusion and disorder, the threat of more mines and the existing language barriers, Sergeant Schmidt remained calm, provided clear direction and facilitated emergency response. His rapid and professional intervention contributed directly to the survival of the seriously injured soldiers and brought great credit to the Canadian Forces.
Annex A MILITARY VALOUR DECORATIONS
The three Military Valour Decorations, namely the Victoria Cross, the Star of Military Valour and the Medal of Military Valour, were created by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, on January 1, 1993. The Decorations may be awarded posthumously.
Anyone can propose a nomination for the Military Valour Decorations. If a member of our Canadian Forces meets the criteria, submission will be made through the member’s chain of command for consideration by the Military Valour Decorations Advisory Committee, and the Governor General. For all three Military Valour Decorations, recipients must be a member of the Canadian Forces or a member of an allied armed force that is serving with, or in conjunction with, the Canadian Forces, on or after January 1, 1993.
Shortly after the beginning of Canadian involvement in Afghanistan, it was established that the basic conditions for the awarding of the Decorations were met. The gallant actions of Canadian Forces members in the face of increased hostilities in recent months have provided the occasion to award them.
Annex B MERITORIOUS SERVICE DECORATIONS
The Meritorious Service Decorations include a military division and a civil division, with two levels each: a medal and a cross. The military division recognizes individuals for their outstanding professionalism and for bringing honour to the Canadian Forces and to Canada. The civil division recognizes individuals who have performed an exceptional deed or an activity that brought honour to the community or to Canada.
These decorations are an important part of the Canadian Honours System, which recognizes excellence. Meritorious Service Decorations honour either a single achievement or an activity over a specified period. The Meritorious Service Decorations are open to both Canadians and non-Canadians.
Anyone may nominate an individual for the civil division of the Meritorious Service Decorations, while military candidates are recommended by the Chief of the Defence Staff. Nominations and awards may be made posthumously, but nominations for activities that occurred prior to June 1984, the year in which the honour was first created, are not accepted.
Annex C MENTION IN DISPATCHES
The Mention in Dispatches was created to recognize members of the Canadian Forces on active service and other individuals working with or in conjunction with the Canadian Forces for valiant conduct, devotion to duty or other distinguished service. Recipients are entitled to wear a bronze oak leaf on the appropriate campaign or service medal ribbon.