Time to stand up for Canada’s Airborne Regiment!

“It should be no surprise that the Canadian Airborne Regiment worked most effectively with relief workers and, in fact, delivered several thousand metric tons of relief supplies… the Canadian forces took the initiative to provide security for a number of large convoys … there was no mission the Canadians were not willing to handle… the devastating effect of the famine was quickly reversed.” – Lt.-Gen. Robert B. Johnston, the U.S. commander in charge of the operation.

I’m not sure that Prime Minister Harper should be apologizing for the actions of a previous Liberal government, but it is certainly open for him to do the right thing. I always thought that the disbanding of the Airborne was excessive, even bewildering, and here is an excellent opportunity to correct the wrongs inflicted on the vast majority of Airborne members who performed admirably under extremely difficult circumstances.

Jeff Goodall.

Airborne Regiment launches petition

Toronto Sun

Kris Sims: June 13th, 2011

OTTAWA, ON – Former members of the Canadian Airborne want their regiment back and are launching a petition to complete their mission.

“What this regiment has accomplished was never brought to light; however, due to the Liberal decimation of the forces and discipline in the army – the actions of two soldiers disgraced the regiment, the men and its colours,” said Gord Hockridge, a retired Airborne engineer who launched the petition.

MP Cheryl Gallant, who represents CFB Petawawa, sent a draft of the petition to the clerk of the House of Commons, to ensure the document is in the proper format.

The petition calls for an apology, reinstatement of the battle honours “colours” and eventual reinstatement of the Airborne Regiment.

The elite regiment was disbanded in 1995 after teenager Shidane Arone was beaten to death in 1993 while in Canadian custody during the United Nations mission to Somalia.

While the killing and subsequent public inquiry dominated the headlines, a former medic who was there said Canadian soldiers helped reverse the country’s famine.

“We were in a country at war, we were not in a peacekeeping mission. It was like living in an ashtray,” said retired sergeant Greg Janes.

Janes, past president of the Airborne Regiment Association of Canada, worked alongside the U.S. Green Berets and Airborne Rangers, groups whose experiences in Somalia were later depicted in the film, Black Hawk Down.

“An apology is warranted and necessary for the 1,400 people who were there and did everything right,” Janes said. “Let the guilty be punished.”

During the mission, Lt.-Gen. Robert B. Johnston, the U.S. commander in charge of the operation, wrote a strong letter to the chief of defence staff, praising the Canadian Airborne.

“It should be no surprise that the Canadian Airborne Regiment worked most effectively with relief workers and, in fact, delivered several thousand metric tons of relief supplies,” Johnston wrote in May 1, 1993.

“The Canadian forces took the initiative to provide security for a number of large convoys … there was no mission the Canadians were not willing to handle.

“The devastating effect of the famine was quickly reversed.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office has not yet responded to the request for an apology.

See original here

There doesn’t seem to be an on-line petition, but you can contact Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MP Cheryl Gallant at cheryl.gallant@parl.gc.ca to express your support. Her constituency includes CFB Petawawa, former home of the Airborne. 

You can also express your support for re-instatement of the Canadian Airborne Regiment to the following: 

Peter MacKay, Minister of Defence at peter.mackay@parl.gc.ca 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper at stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca 

Leader of the Opposition Jack Layton at jack.layton@parl.gc.ca 

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae at bob.rae@parl.gc.ca 

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May at Elizabeth.May@parl.gc.ca 

See my article “Canada’s Airborne Regiment: Time to correct an injustice” (June 3rd, 2011) here.*

*At the foot of this article I said that “The Liberal and NDP party leaders will be useless for any ‘pro-military’ purpose”. Now that a petition is being initiated by a member of parliament, it is necessary to contact them anyway!