NEW BRUNSWICK | IN DEPTH

Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

In Depth

Afghanistan: Atlantic Canada's role

Witness to a final farewell

Last Updated March 16, 2007

This is Capt. Scott Lang's account of the ramp ceremony for fallen Cpl. Kevin Megeney, a 25-year-old reservist from Stellarton, N.S., who was killed on March 6 at the airbase in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in an incident that Canadian Forces officials described as an accidental shooting.

The funeral was held at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Stellarton, N.S. (CBC)

A deployment to Afghanistan for myself has been one of many firsts — including one this week that I had hoped to never experience. It was my first ramp ceremony. All available Canadians, soldiers and civilian, collected at the Kandahar airfield. There was conversation and light banter, and an avoidance to discuss the reason we had all gathered.

The sun had set a while ago but it was still relatively warm. There was a continuous breeze blowing, and if you believe in such things, it could have easily been taken as prophetic. We gathered with a bit more purpose than I've usually seen among large groups of soldiers: there was little complaining, little noise.

We quickly found ourselves on the march to take our positions. We made the solemn and quiet march through the hazy darkness. The only sound was the mild and continuous wind in my ears, and the muffled staccato of hundreds of combat boots on the tarmac. We marched from the weak light of the hanger through the darkness towards the looming brightly lit beacon that was the waiting Hercules transport plane.

As we Canadians formed, tightly packed shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder, three-deep in a long line, we formed a corridor that would act as the final Kandahar road for a fallen comrade, Cpl. Kevin Megeney.

As we shuffled into position, quietly, reverently, I heard something that surprised me, though it shouldn't have. Row after row of soldiers from other countries, U.S. marines, Brits, Aussies, Dutch — all formed row after row behind us.

I was positioned in the front rank about nine metres from the yawning open end of the Herc. We waited for what seemed an eternity, lined at attention.

The precision, formality, and ambiance reminded me of the final tributes for ancient Viking or fighting kings. It made me think in that moment that it is only in death we soldiers, we average Canadian men and women, are kings and queens, if only to our peers.

Bagpipes send emotions swirling through ranks

Then there was a whine from a microphone, as it caught the wind. As the padres spoke their lines, they no longer seemed to be the trivial platitudes of Remembrance Days past. The words reverberated, stuck. They were quick, efficient and articulate.

The emotion was thick and palpable. And then the command sang out. "Task Force Afghanistan to your fallen comrade, salute."

I have always been moved by the haunting skirl of the bagpipes, but hearing it here, under these circumstances was like an emotional punch in the gut. I think we all stood there steeling ourselves, but still the weight of it hits you like a tidal wave.

'You haven't seen anything until you have seen soldiers cry'

It was a slow-moving tsunami that started at the far end of the lines, and then progressed as the slow cadence brought another Nova Scotian son his last 500 metres across Kandahar airfield. The procession was slow, building and building as if purposely driving the point home.

Tears glittered on grim faces

I watched the padres, then the coffin itself pass in front of me, so close that I could have reached out and touched it.

The world was then like a kaleidoscope, colour and light blurry and refracted.

The wave passed me by and I hitched in a deep breath. A few minutes later, there were the muffled footsteps inside the belly of the aircraft.

I watched the faces of those across from me, knowing that many of them were like me and didn't know the corporal. But he was Canadian, he was young and he might be only the first of our rotation to die.

So etched on many face were grim looks, made even more fierce in the weird shadows cast by the spotlights, with telltale glistening sparkles of tears in eyes and cheeks.

You haven't seen anything until you have seen soldiers cry.

I hope I never see it again.

Go to the Top

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Capt. Scott Lang is a member of Air Defence Regiment 4, who was stationed at CFB Gagetown, outside Fredericton, until just before his own deployment to Kandahar. His family now resides in Moncton. Lang is originally from the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia.

RELATED

External Links

National Defence and the Canadian Forces
CFB Gagetown
Canadian Army
Canadian Navy - Operations & Exercises
NATO in Afghanistan
CIA World Factbook, Afghanistan

(Note: CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external sites - links will open in new window)

[an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

Updated Flynn invokes Fifth Amendment rights in U.S. Senate's Russia probe, attorneys say
U.S. President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination on Monday and declined to hand over documents sought under subpoena by a Senate panel investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.
CBC IN CYPRUS 1 village, 2 mayors: Pyla shows peace is possible in Cyprus video
A new generation of Cypriots may be ready for peace, but will old wounds sabotage the latest efforts to reunify the island?
7.2-million-year-old pre-human fossils challenge evolutionary theory
A jawbone discovered by German troops in Athens during the Second World War could be evidence that apes and humans diverged 200,000 years earlier than the current theory says.
more »

Canada »

Go Public Scammers convince senior he's funding terrorism in elaborate con job video
Ron Jones lost thousands of dollars in an elaborate scam that left him deep in debt and believing he had funded terrorism.
Tax worker fired after biggest privacy breach at Revenue Canada
The Canada Revenue Agency has fired every worker involved in eight privacy breaches detected in since 2016, Including the largest incident in which 1,264 accounts were briefly accessed.
How this blue urn's mysterious journey is helping 2 families heal video
After Shawn Westlund took his own life a little more than a year ago, his family scattered his ashes in the Pacific Ocean. They then filled his urn with cards and letters, setting it free in the water, too. Somehow it made its way to the Bow River in Alberta, and into the hands of Rob Russell, where it would change his life.
more »

Politics »

Tax worker fired after biggest privacy breach at Revenue Canada
The Canada Revenue Agency has fired every worker involved in eight privacy breaches detected in since 2016, Including the largest incident in which 1,264 accounts were briefly accessed.
Analysis How the Conservative leadership vote could be won, ballot by ballot
An analysis of fundraising data provides clues as to which Conservative leadership candidates have most to gain from the preferential ballot — and how the final count could go down.
Analysis Ukraine seeks to avoid being a bargaining chip between Washington and Moscow
Ukrainian politicians have appealed to their Canadian counterparts to help "educate" the Trump administration on the geopolitical importance of their country. It comes at a time when Canadians face troubles of their own getting through to the new American president.
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

Drake, Céline Dion shine at 2017 Billboard Music Awards
Céline Dion performed her classic My Heart Will Go On at the Billboard Music Awards 20 years after the song was a chart topper, while fellow Canadian Drake cleaned up in Las Vegas.
Photos The Hollywood effect: Maud Lewis and other painters who got a bump from the movies
Maud Lewis' exuberant art regularly turns up at Canadian auctions. But the high-profile new film Maudie has sparked a wave of fresh interest in the beloved Nova Scotia folk artist's oeuvre. Call it the Hollywood effect.
One-third of potential jurors say they've formed opinion in Bill Cosby case
A Pennsylvania judge began questioning 100 potential jurors on Monday for next month's sex assault trial of comedian Bill Cosby, accused of drugging and assaulting a former basketball coach at his alma mater, Temple University, in 2004.
more »

Technology & Science »

7.2-million-year-old pre-human fossils challenge evolutionary theory
A jawbone discovered by German troops in Athens during the Second World War could be evidence that apes and humans diverged 200,000 years earlier than the current theory says.
Leaked Facebook documents show types of content it allows, says report
Leaked Facebook documents show how the social media company moderates issues such as hate speech, terrorism, pornography and self-harm on its platform, the Guardian reported, citing internal guidelines seen by the newspaper.
New After 9 months in space, mouse sperm yield healthy mice
The freeze-dried sperm samples were launched in 2013 to the International Space Station and returned to Earth in 2014.
more »

Money »

Canadian banks set to reveal quarterly earnings amid housing & debt concerns
The Canadian banks are expected to benefit from rising U.S. interest rates and fewer bad loans in the oilpatch as they start reporting their latest quarterly results this week, but analysts say worries about the housing market and consumer debt remain key concerns.
Dakota Access pipeline spilled 380 litres of oil from 2 leaks in March
The Dakota Access pipeline system leaked more than 380 litres of oil in two separate incidents in North Dakota in March as crews prepared the pipeline for operation.
U.S. stocks higher Monday while TSX closed for May holiday weekend
U.S. stocks were higher Monday while Canada's benchmark stock index the TSX was closed for the May long weekend.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Analysis Shootout breaks Canadian hearts yet again
For Canadian hockey players, it has never been easy to deal with a shootout loss. And for the second time in four-and-a-half months at a major international tournament, there was Canada, once again, on the losing end of a gold-medal final shootout.
Blind baseball announcer creates 'a theatre of the mind' with his colour commentary
Bryce Weiler, who has been blind since birth, has commentated more than 100 sports games. Now he's working to make baseball more accessible to people with disabilities.
Bill White, member of Summit Series team, dead at 77
Bill White, a former Chicago Blackhawks All-Star defenceman and a member of Canada's 1972 Summit Series team, has died. He was 77.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »