Canada

Fallen soldier never gave up on frustrating mission: father

The father of one of six soldiers killed in Afghanistan last week dismissed reports that his son was disillusioned with Canada's mission, even if he was sometimes frustrated by it.
The father of one of six soldiers killed in Afghanistan last week, a career soldier himself, dismissed reports that his son was disillusioned with Canada's mission, even if he was sometimes frustrated by it.
Retired lieutenant-colonel Peter Dawe said his son was a dedicated soldier, but sometimes questioned the mission. ((CBC))

Capt. Matthew Dawe, 27, from 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry was killed by a massive roadside bomb last Wednesday. He came from a prominent military family in Kingston, Ont., and was the youngest of four brothers, who all served in the military.

Newspapers reported that Dawe was badly shaken this June when three soldiers under his command were killed by a roadside bomb, but his family, in their first timespeaking publicly, said on Wednesday that it never broke his resolve.

"Matt felt a betrayal of his men by the very people he was supposed to be helping,"said retired lieutenant-colonel Peter Dawe, adding his son had notedsome Afghan insurgents were "farmers by day, and Taliban and killers by night."

But despite the losses,Matt Dawestill believed in what he was doing, he said.

"He summarized it all by saying … 'We're keeping our eye on the ball and we're doing the job we need to do.'"

Soldiers wrestling with purpose of mission: father

His mother said there was a point when Matt thought he might not be able to join his fellow soldiers on the mission because of an injury to his Achilles tendon in the months leading up to his deployment.
Capt. Matthew Dawe came from a family of soldiers. ((Canadian Press))

Matt worked hard to get back into shape, she says, determined to join his colleagues.

Dawe's fatheralso praised his son's fellow soldiers as professionals and "profound thinkers" who spent thehours in the backs of armoured vehicles reading books about Canada's evolving military role in missions such as Afghanistan.

"These people are not glory hunters. These people are wrestling with why they're there," he said.

The father admitted he was initially "skeptical about winning in Afghanistan" but a picture of his other son handing out a doll to an Afghan girl that appeared in a local newspaper several years ago renewed his hope.

He says he believes that soldiers reaching out to the Afghan people may open their minds to other ways of life, but added that before soldiers win over the hearts of the people they need to focus on security.

'Stay focused, stay safe,' wife urges

Matt Dawe's wife, Tara, used the press conference to send a direct message to the soldiers serving in Afghanistan that she was coping with the loss of her husband thanks to their support.

"I want to tell them how much I love and supported Matt in his decisions and how muchI love and support the boys overseas," she said. "All I ask of you is to stay focused, stay safe and come home proud of what you've done.

"I have lost the love of my life and the father of my child. Nothing can be said or done to change that. But a moment like this would've made Matt proud and that's going to help me to heal."

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