Governor General Announces the Award of a Meritorious Service Decoration (Military Division) and 27 Mentions in Dispatches
October 2, 2007
OTTAWA – Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, announces the award of one posthumous Meritorious Service Cross (Military Division), as well as 27 Mentions in Dispatches for gallantry and devotion to duty in combat.
The names and citations of the recipients follow. Information on the Meritorious Service Decorations is found in Annex A, and on the Mentions in Dispatches in Annex B.
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Media Liaison Office
Meritorious Service Cross (Military Division)
Mentions in Dispatches
Meritorious Service Cross (Military Division)
Chief Warrant Officer Robert Michel Joseph Girouard, M.S.C., C.D. (posthumous)
Chief Warrant Officer Girouard was deployed in August 2006 as the Regimental Sergeant Major of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, Joint Task Force Afghanistan. Throughout his tour of duty, up to the moment he was killed in action on November 27, 2006, he led from the front, sharing the dangers and hardships associated with combat operations. He contributed greatly to the Battle Group’s fighting spirit, which led to the defeat of the enemy during Operation MEDUSA. Chief Warrant Officer Girouard’s outstanding leadership, professionalism and courage brought singular credit to the Canadian Forces and to Canada.
Captain Hugh Llewellyn Atwell
Captain Atwell was deployed to Afghanistan in command of 7 Platoon, ‘C’ Company of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, 1st Battle Group. On March 27, 2006, Captain Atwell’s platoon received multiple and significant casualties when Forward Operating Base Robinson came under sustained attack from a numerically superior enemy force. Despite the traumatic losses, Captain Atwell led his platoon throughout the intense and sustained attack and directly contributed to the coalition victory. A month later, on April 28, his platoon engaged and defeated an approaching enemy force, and prevented the ambush of a combat logistics patrol.
Sergeant Sean Eldon Benedict, C.D.
On September 3, 2006, members of 7 Platoon, Charles Company, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, engaged in a violent firefight in the Pashmul area of Afghanistan. At a critical moment in the battle, an anti-tank weapon struck one of the lead vehicles, killing several soldiers and wounding others. Sergeant Benedict immediately left the security of his own vehicle, exposing himself to intense small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire, and ran to the other vehicle to provide support until the firefight was won. His actions and leadership under fire were an inspiration to his fellow soldiers.
Corporal Joshua Clyde Brophy
On October 14, 2006, Corporal Brophy, a member of the Commander’s tactical group, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, dismounted from his vehicle under intense enemy fire to assist in the extraction of his vehicle that had become stuck in an irrigation ditch while countering an intense enemy attack near Ma’sum Ghar, in Afghanistan. Under heavy enemy fire, which threatened him, the vehicle and its occupants, Corporal Brophy worked diligently to rig towing cables to extract the exposed vehicle. His selfless and courageous actions helped save the crew and the vehicle, and brought great credit to the Canadian Forces and to Canada.
Warrant Officer Dominic André Joseph Chenard, C.D.
On November 24, 2006, while serving with the Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Squadron, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, in Afghanistan, Warrant Officer Chenard’s skilful leadership contributed to saving the lives of Allied soldiers. He led his quick reaction force into a decisive firefight to assist American Special Forces engaged by an overwhelming enemy force. He positioned his platoon vehicles into effective fire positions, provided cover for the removal of casualties, and used his own vehicle to recover the disabled vehicles. Warrant Officer Chenard’s decisive actions under fire contributed to saving the lives of numerous soldiers and directly resulted in the successful withdrawal of the Americans.
Warrant Officer Darcy Dean Cyr
Warrant Officer Cyr was deployed with A-Battery, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, 1st Battle Group, during Operation ARCHER Rotation 1. On March 28, 2006, while serving as the forward air controller for the Quick Reaction Force at Forward Operating Base Robinson, he left the compound under enemy fire to assess the tactical situation. Having difficulty relaying the casualty evacuation request to headquarters, Warrant Officer Cyr ran back inside the compound at great personal risk. His success in transmitting the casualty removal request contributed to the safe evacuation of three seriously wounded soldiers. His courage and dedication to duty were exemplary and brought honour to Canada.
Master Corporal James Evans
Master Corporal Evans was deployed with the Health Services Support Company,
Master Corporal Christopher Fernandez-Ledon
Master Corporal Fernandez-Ledon was serving as second-in-command of 2 Section, 7 Platoon, C Company when it was deployed as the Divisional Quick Reaction Force to the Forward Operating Base Robinson, Afghanistan. On the evening of March 27, 2006, a large enemy force launched an intense attack on the base. His section manoeuvred into a tactical position to reinforce the base and was able to hold off repeated attacks. In addition, on April 28, he led his platoon to engage and successfully defeat an enemy force preparing an ambush, while escorting a re-supply convoy. Master Corporal Fernandez-Ledon showed great professionalism and leadership and has become a source of inspiration for his soldiers.
Lieutenant Nicolas Forsyth
Lieutenant Forsyth was deployed with the Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Squadron, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, in Afghanistan. On October 3, 2006, his observation post was attacked by small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and rockets, killing and wounding many soldiers. Lieutenant Forsyth, himself debilitated by shrapnel wounds and flash burns, crawled headlong into effective enemy fire to report the ambush and to request reinforcements. Maintaining command, he assisted with the treatment of casualties and ensured the perimeter security was maintained. Lieutenant Forsyth’s leadership under fire helped save the lives of his fellow soldiers and repel the enemy attack.
Sergeant Craig Paul Gillam, C.D. (posthumous)
On October 3, 2006, Sergeant Gillam’s observation post in Pashmul, Afghanistan, was attacked by enemy fighters firing small arms and rocket-propelled grenades from an unidentified location. Without regard to his own safety, Sergeant Gillam immediately moved to a position from which he could identify and indicate the enemy position to the remainder of his patrol. He valiantly stood his ground and maintained suppressing fire until he fell to the enemy’s fire. Sergeant Gillam’s courageous actions and personal sacrifice during a devastating enemy attack contributed to saving the lives of his fellow soldiers through the rapid identification of the enemy position.
Corporal Gregory Gilson
Corporal Gilson was deployed to Afghanistan with the Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Squadron, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group. On October 3, 2006, his observation post, located in the Pashmul region, was attacked with small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and rockets. In the face of this devastating attack, Corporal Gilson maintained his composure while calming the wounded. Ignoring his own injuries, he continued to provide radio situation reports and adopted a fire position to repel further attacks. Corporal Gilson’s actions and composure under fire reflect the highest standards of professionalism in combat.
Sergeant Darren Daniel Hermiston, C.D.
On October 3, 2006, Sergeant Hermiston, serving with the Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Squadron, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, in Afghanistan, was among the first to come to the assistance of an observation post which had been attacked and was still under effective and sustained enemy fire. Without concern for his own safety, he quickly dismounted from his vehicle to assist in the treatment and extraction of the wounded. Sergeant Hermiston’s completely selfless act under fire, imbued by quick thinking, courage and dedication, contributed to saving the lives of many of his fellow soldiers.
Private Ryan Wilson Hunt
Private Hunt of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, is recognized for his courageous and distinguished service in Afghanistan. On November 21, 2006, Private Hunt’s dismounted foot patrol triggered a pressure-plate-improvised explosive device, injuring the section commander and another soldier. Private Hunt immediately organized the section into a defensive perimeter, began applying first aid to the casualties and requested assistance from higher command. Private Hunt’s initiative, which far exceeded what was expected of him, directly contributed to saving the lives of his fellow soldiers.
Corporal Michael William Kinsey
On October 3, 2006, an observation post in the Pashmul region of Panjwayi, in Afghanistan, came under effective and sustained enemy fire. In close proximity to the attack, Corporal Kinsey, a member of the responding mobile repair team, Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Squadron, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, immediately launched his vehicle into the enemy’s kill zone in order to provide protective cover for the wounded. While under fire, he assisted in the removal and care of the most critically injured soldiers. Corporal Kinsey’s quick thinking, courage and dedication contributed to saving the lives of many of his fellow soldiers.
Master Warrant Officer Steven Lehman, C.D.
On October 3, 2006, while serving with the Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Squadron, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, in Afghanistan, Master Warrant Officer Lehman responded with great élan to an attack on an observation post in Pashmul that left numerous dead and wounded. Arriving shortly after the initial attack, Master Warrant Officer Lehman, while exposed in the hatch of his vehicle, immediately engaged the enemy with his pintle-mounted machine gun and directed the repositioning of the accompanying vehicles to shelter the wounded. Master Warrant Officer Lehman’s quick and decisive actions under fire helped repel the enemy and contributed to saving the lives of many soldiers.
Corporal Darren A. Lynch
Corporal Lynch served with 7 Platoon, C Company, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, 1st Battle Group, when it was deployed as the Divisional Quick Reaction Force to the Forward Operating Base Robinson, Afghanistan. On the evening of March 27, 2006, while under enemy fire and with no ground cover, his section manoeuvred into a tactical position to reinforce the North gate. Despite sustaining a bullet wound to his leg, Corporal Lynch continued to engage the enemy. After the enemy was successfully repelled, and with total disregard for his own injuries, he assisted with casualty care and evacuation. Corporal Lynch’s selflessness, courage and dedication to duty have garnered great respect for himself and for the Canadian Forces.
Master Warrant Officer Robert Joseph Montague, C.D.
Master Warrant Officer Montague, a member of the Commander’s tactical group,
Captain Lee James Mossop
Captain Mossop was deployed as the mentor to the company commander of the 3rd Company, 2nd Kandak, 1st Brigade, 205th Corps of the Afghan National Army (ANA). On October 10, 2006, his company was assigned to secure Route Summit in the Pashmul region of Afghanistan. For the next two weeks, the company endured repeated insurgent attacks, during which Captain Mossop demonstrated outstanding leadership, composure and resilience under fire that inspired the ANA soldiers to successfully ward off all enemy action. Captain Mossop’s leadership directly contributed to the professional development of the ANA Company, and to Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.
Sergeant Christopher John Michael Murdy
Sergeant Murdy was deployed with the Force Protection Platoon of the National Support Element in Afghanistan. On August 29, 2006, he led his patrol through three consecutive enemy engagements including an ambush by a suicide bomber in a vehicle armed with improvised explosive devices. Exhibiting exceptional judgement and tactical expertise in each of the events, he successfully led his troops to safety. Sergeant Murdy’s steadfast composure and combat leadership inspired his soldiers to confidently carry out their mission.
Private Matthew O'Meara
Private O’Meara was deployed to Afghanistan with the Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Squadron, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group. On October 3, 2006, his observation post, located in the Pashmul region, was attacked with small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and rockets. Despite being seriously hurt and exposed to continuous enemy fire, Private O’Meara maintained his composure while calming the injured and providing first aid. After confirming the security of the wounded, he adopted a fire position to repel further attacks. Private O’Meara’s actions reflect the highest standards of professionalism in combat.
Major Gregory A. Penner, C.D.
Major Penner is mentioned in dispatches for his courageous and selfless actions while serving as a United Nations (UN) military observer in Sudan. In November 2006, serious firefights in Malakal left 200 civilians dead and another 500 injured. Throughout the crisis, Major Penner volunteered to lead dangerous patrols and medical evacuations, with complete disregard for his own safety. During several volatile situations, his negotiation skills and calm demeanour helped prevent further escalations in the conflict. Major Penner’s leadership and courage under fire throughout the Malakal crisis were critical to the effectiveness of the crisis action team and to the sustained UN presence in the region.
Corporal Adam Kenneth Pizio
Corporal Pizio of the Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Squadron, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, is mentioned in dispatches for outstanding bravery and professionalism during combat operations in Afghanistan. On January 1, 2007, in response to a mine strike on another detachment, he rapidly led his section through dangerous terrain in complete darkness to secure the scene and enable timely medical intervention to save a wounded comrade’s life. His selfless bravery in the face of danger and his skilful application of complex navigation knowledge under extreme pressure reflect the highest standards of professionalism.
Master Corporal Max Robert Smith
Master Corporal Smith fought with Charles Company, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, in Afghanistan, during Operation MEDUSA. On September 3, 2006, although he was under enemy fire, Master Corporal Smith dismounted from his disabled vehicle to direct its recovery and maintained his position until ordered to withdraw. At great personal risk to himself, Master Corporal Smith then helped the wounded back to the casualty collection point where he assisted in the treatment of the casualties, and the evacuation and processing of those killed in action. Master Corporal Smith demonstrated exceptional professionalism in combat.
Master Corporal William Tiernay
Master Corporal Tiernay was deployed with 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, in Afghanistan. While conducting a forward combat patrol on October 14, 2006, the battle group commander’s tactical headquarters came under intense enemy fire, immobilizing their vehicle. Master Corporal Tiernay dismounted the vehicle to assist in securing the area. Unfortunately, attacks by the enemy claimed the lives of two soldiers. His courageous actions prevented further casualties and brought great credit to the Canadian Forces and to Canada.
Corporal Mark Todorovic
On October 14, 2006, Corporal Todorovic, a member of the Commander’s tactical group,
Sergeant Sergio Tomasi
Sergeant Tomasi demonstrated outstanding tactical prowess on September 9, 2006, when his Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Squadron, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, in Afghanistan, was targeted by enemy sniper fire while conducting a night patrol during Operation MEDUSA. Remaining calm and focused, he immediately established a section security perimeter, located the enemy, and successfully directed retaliatory fire from supporting light armoured vehicles and attack helicopters. His confidence and composure inspired his soldiers to continue their mission without fear or hesitation. Sergeant Tomasi’s reaction to this perilous situation illustrates his professionalism, leadership and strategic acumen.
Corporal Michael Trubela, C.D.
Corporal Trubela was deployed to Afghanistan with the Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Squadron, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group. On October 3, 2006, his Pashmul region observation post was attacked with small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and rockets. Despite being wounded and exposed to continuous enemy fire, Corporal Trubela maintained his composure throughout the devastating attack. His leadership reassured the junior members of the patrol and calmed the wounded. Assisting the troop leader, he provided first aid to the critically injured and helped direct security of the scene to repel further attacks. Corporal Trubela’s composure under fire reflects the highest standards of professionalism in combat.
Petty Officer 1st Class Paul Joseph Walsh, C.D.
Petty Officer First Class Walsh is recognized for his courage and dedication to duty while deployed as 23 Field Squadron’s explosive ordnance disposal chief within the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, in Afghanistan. During Operation MEDUSA, in September 2006, he risked his life to assist combat engineers in clearing a section of Route Vancouver in the Pashmul region. He personally identified five improvised explosive devices and a 450 kg unexploded bomb within a 150-metre stretch of road, and systematically disposed of them. Petty Officer First Class Walsh’s professionalism and commitment to his mission potentially saved the lives of many fellow soldiers.
ANNEX A-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 their community or to Canada.
The Meritorious Service Cross (Military Division) recognizes a military deed or activity that has been performed in an outstandingly professional manner, according to a rare high standard that brings considerable benefit or great honour to the Canadian Forces.
The Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) recognizes a military deed or activity performed in a highly professional manner, according to a very high standard that brings benefit or honour to the Canadian Forces.
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 B-MENTIONS IN DISPATCHES
The Mention in Dispatches is a national honour that 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.