A Canadian soldier awarded the Medal of Military Valour for selfless and valiant service in Afghanistan was badly beaten up at a sports bar in his Ontario hometown last weekend.
Master Cpl. Collin Fitzgerald says he was attacked from behind and knocked unconscious by four men early Saturday in Morrisburg, southeast of Ottawa.
What exactly happened at the bar is still under investigation.
Fitzgerald said he arrived around 1:30a.m. andbumped into an old childhood friend who started introducing the decorated soldier to strangers, telling them Fitzgerald was a war hero.
At some point, he sat down at a table, he said.
"The next thing I knew, I got hit with some object and I was down, and the next thing I knew was being picked up off the ground and people were telling me I had to get to the hospital because I had a big gash in my head," Fitzgerald told CBC News.
Fitzgerald, 27,required 10 stitches to close a wound across his brow. He also suffered a broken nose, a gash in his head, two chipped teeth, three fractures in his foot and a swollen knee. three days after the attack, his right eye is swollen nearly shut. The other is bruised black, red and yellow.
The people who attacked him were complete strangers, he said.
"I've never met these guys before that night."
Fitgzerald was decorated for valour in February by Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean after he helped save the lives of some of his platoon mates while under intense enemy fire during an ambush in Afghanistan last May.
Fitzgerald said it was obvious his attackers had some kind of problem with him and probably didn't think much of his service overseas either.
"I don't think they realize the things we went through over there," he said.
Travis Baldwin, 21, ofMorrisburg, has been charged with aggravated assault. Police say they are considering charges against three other men.
Baldwin's mother told CBC News on Tuesday that Fitzgerald has blown the incident out of proportion and misrepresented himself as an innocent victim. She said Fitzgerald and his friends were the ones who provoked her son and the other men.