CFB Edmonton, Alberta — The Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, visited the Edmonton Garrison late last year to give a Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation to the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group, Task Force 1 06 (1 PPCLI, TF 1-06). The Commendation is presented to a unit of the Canadian Forces that has performed an extraordinary deed or activity of a rare, high standard in extremely hazardous circumstances.
“Time and again, the Patricia’s has demonstrated a commitment to service,” said Johnston, in conferring the honour. “You have defended Canada’s ideals through sacrifice. You have represented Canada abroad with respect and composure. It is your dedication to service and to country that we celebrate here today. … When I read the citation for this Commendation, your accomplishments amazed me. From January to August 2006, you were involved in 29 different operations in Afghanistan, fighting almost constantly.”
A changeover from Op ENDURING FREEDOM to the NATO-led ISAF occurred in 2006. Canadian troops found themselves senior partners of the British in the southern provinces of Afghanistan. Canadians were first on the ground to replace an American battalion and three Special Forces units.
“We were fortunate to arrive in January and get a handover from a very professional American battalion and we had a bit of a lull,” explained Lieutenant-Colonel Ian Hope, CO Task Force 1-06. “We had almost three months to actually get to know the terrain and … the people, before the Taliban began what we now know was a massive surge of several thousand fighters.”
The following months were a time of intense and sustained fighting not seen by Canadian troops since Korea, more than 50 years earlier. Nineteen CF men and women lost their lives and another 76 were wounded in action, as were about 500 Taliban fighters. It was during this period that Op MEDUSA and Op MOUNTAIN THRUST occurred.
“Conditions were a lot worse than they are now,” said Corporal Eric Hjalmarson, PPCLI, who has completed three tours. “We were on hard rations the whole time we were there, sleeping in the mud, dust and sand fleas.”
The task force had over 100 contacts with the Taliban and 50 of these involved intensive firefights, complex battle manoeuvres and the use of artillery fire support and aircraft. The task force clocked 1,700,000 kilometres of driving, including one operation with 600 kilometres of combined arms manoeuvre.
All of this occurred with outstanding support from the maintenance platoon, which kept the vehicles running, and from the many support organizations involved.
“This [unit commendation] was presented to the battalion because it participated as a group during a very contentious period and they, as usual, excelled in their duties,” said Honorary Colonel (Ret’d) Donald S. Ethell, Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta. “The commander wanted to make sure that the unit was recognized as a whole.”
Article by MCpl David McVeigh, Army News, CFB Wainwright
Photos by Cpl Carole Beggs, Image Tech, CFB Edmonton
GG honours PPCLI with unit commendation
Thursday, February 24, 2011
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