Edmonton soldiers return from relief duty in Philippines
Family, colleagues greet soldiers with hugs, handshakes and tears
Edmonton soldiers involved in Canada's relief efforts in the Philippines returned home today saying it's a mission they won't soon forget.
"We were pretty proud of the mission that we were doing over there," said Capt. Ian Bonnell. "It's hard to see the people going through that kind of thing. How resilient the people are, is really what stood out for me. They just put their heads down and keep going."
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About 30 soldiers were greeted at Edmonton Garrison with hugs and tears this morning after four weeks overseas helping with the relief program after Typhoon Haiyan swept across the southern Philippines on Nov. 2, killing thousands of people and leaving thousands more homeless.
The highlight of the mission was delivering supplies to an island, days after the typhoon and having the people greet them with cheers, said Maj. Phil Shilling, who was in charge of the Griffin helicopter crews.
"It's an unbelievable feeling. It brings tears to your eyes. it's ... so proud to be a Canadian, so proud to be able to help these people out, get them a leg up so they can get on their feet.
"They're a fiercely proud people, they're very tenacious."
The work never seemed to end, he said.
"The sheer volume of food and supplies that we brought in, it's staggering," he said. "We'd stack up as much as we can. There's rice all over these helicopters — it was amazing. At the end of the day, you're exhausted. "
The last of the Edmonton soldiers, along with the three Griffin helicopters, will return to Edmonton on the weekend, wrapping up Canada's military relief work in the Philippines.
They were part of several hundred Canadian Armed Forces personnel sent to the Philippines as part of Canada's relief efforts.
With files from CBC's Lydia Neufeld