Craig Blake remembered as Afghanistan mission ends
13 Nova Scotians among 158 Canadian Forces members killed during the war
A Nova Scotia widow says the end of Canada's deadly and dangerous 12-year mission in Afghanistan is just one more day to remember her husband, who was killed nearly four years ago by an improvised explosive device.
Priscilla Blake, whose husband Petty Officer 2nd Class Craig Blake died in May 2010, said remembering what happened to him doesn't get easier as time goes on.
"Craig had just dismantled an IED and was walking back to their vehicle when a remote detonated IED went off," she said. "Craig was closest to the explosion and was killed."
On Wednesday, Canadian troops capped their mission in Afghanistan, hauling down the Canadian flag at NATO headquarters in Kabul.
The ceremony ended with Canadians involved in the NATO training mission leaving aboard a U.S. Chinook helicopter. The remaining Canadian personnel will leave by the end of the week.
Blake lives with the couple's two sons in Dartmouth, close to a park renamed last year in her husband's honour. She said the past four years have passed quickly.
"It's hard to believe that it's been almost four years since Craig was killed. But I'm glad that it's over," she said.
According to the Department of National Defence, 4,156 service personnel deployed to Afghanistan from units in Nova Scotia. Not all of them were born in this province, but they were from various units based here.
Thirteen Nova Scotian soldiers have died during Canada's mission in Afghanistan.
Blake said she doesn't know if the war was worth it, but she knows her husband would have been proud of what he accomplished.
"I know Craig went there with a job to do and he wanted to help people and if it helped one person or saved one life, even, he did his job," she said.
"I just hope that they don't get forgotten along the way and that the men and women that came back that are still suffering — that will suffer for years — don't get forgotten and left behind."
Canadian commandos, hunting al-Qaeda, were the first troops to hit the ground in late 2001 and they were followed by as many as 40,000 more rotating through different campaigns, including the five-year combat mission in Kandahar.
The war cost the lives of 158 Canadian soldiers, one diplomat, one journalist and two civilian contractors.