Nfld. & Labrador

Parents remember Newfoundlanders who died in Afghanistan

The parents of two Newfoundland soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan say their children loved their roles in the Canadian Forces.

Cpl. Jamie Murphy and Cpl. Stephen Bouzane killed in conflict that officially ends today

The parents of two Newfoundland soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan say their children loved their roles in the Canadian Forces.

Canada's military mission in Afghanistan officially ends today after 12 years of being involved in the conflict.

One-hundred-and-fifty-eight Canadian men and women have died in the war, including 13 people from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Cpl. Jamie Murphy, from Conception Harbour, was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2004. (Submitted photo)
Cpl. Jamie Murphy, 26, from Conception Harbour, was the first Newfoundlander to be killed in the Afghanistan conflict. He was killed by a suicide bomber in 2004.

His mother, Alice Murphy, said her son was out of school for about a year when he became interested in the army. He and two other friends decided to get involved. 

When another solider was injured and couldn't go to Afghanistan, Jamie was asked to take his place.

"Jamie got the phone call, and he was so happy," said Alice Murphy. "He came out to me, and he was jumping for joy."

Following the phone call, Jamie told his mother that he would start with the infantry in two weeks' time.

"I couldn't stop him," Alice Murphy recalled. "He wanted to go. He was 19. And we didn't like it for him to go. I said to Jamie, 'You can join something else. You can go work with your brother or something.' And he said, 'No mom, I'll like this.'"

Alice Murphy told her son that she was worried about the risk.

"I told him there was a lot of danger involved," she said. 

"And [Jamie said], 'I'll be alright; don't worry about me ... It's dangerous, mom, if I go out and get in my car... I could get killed.'"

When she told Jamie that she didn't look at it the same way, he joked that he'd have his cheque in two weeks.

"I said, 'Money doesn't count. I'd rather for you to be here with me,'" Alice said, stating that Jamie was her baby — the youngest of four children.

She said everyone loved her son, and he certainly loved his job as a soldier.

"His girlfriend said he was proud to put on his uniform," Alice said. "He loved it. So what could you say?"

Bouzane killed in 2007

Cpl. Stephen Bouzane, 26, from Little Bay, was killed in 2007 by an improvised explosive device (IED) outside of Kandahar.

His father, Fred Bouzane, who lives in St. Albans, said that Stephen felt lost before he joined the army.

Cpl. Stephen Bouzane, from Little Bay, was one of three soldiers killed when a roadside bomb exploded in Afghanistan in 2007. (Submitted photo)
"Stephen beat around a bit after he got out of school. He didn't want to go to university or college, so he worked at a lot of different jobs, and just couldn't find his place," Fred said.

"The he decided that one day, he'd join. And he loved it. He found his place ... He was quite happy there."

Stephen travelled to Afghanistan in February 2007, and died in June. He was two days away from a three-week leave, and had been planning a tour of Europe.

Fred said he was outside having a cigarette, when he saw a van pull up with a group, including a padre (army chaplain), that was there to deliver the news of his son's death in combat.

"I [saw] them walk up towards the house... so I knew then," he said.

Fred said he has tried to accept his son's death, but other family members have taken it much harder.

"My wife is devastated, and my daughter. Both of them took it really hard and are still taking it hard," he said. 

"Time helps, but you don't forget. It's in your mind all the time."

Fred recalled when his wife Moureen asked Stephen why he wanted to go. 

"[He said,] 'Mom, I don't know if you know what it's like to be helpless ... so I want to help some of [those] people,'" Fred said.

"To me, if he did touch one person's life over there, and made a difference, I guess it was worth it for him."

'I went into shock'

Alice Murphy said her son went to Afghanistan in August 2003, and was just 10 days away from coming home for a holiday when he was killed in January 2004.

She recalled when she got the dreaded news. Alice said the padre and priest knocked at her door at 5 a.m. in the middle of a storm; her husband Norm answered the door.

"He said he knew right away when he'd seen the padre that... it was Jamie," Alice said. "I went into shock then... That was it."

Alice said after all of this time, she doesn't accept her son's death.

I think of him every day. But people think I've got to [move] on. But I don't. I visit his grave all the time- Alice Murphy, mother of deceased soldier Cpl. James Murphy

"Jamie is with me all the time ... and I don't agree with what happened. He shouldn't have been over there in the first place," she said.

Alice said at first, many things were done in her son's memory, including a monument in Conception Harbour, and a playground named after him in North River. But she said the momentum has slowed.

"It wore off. But it didn't wear off of me. I think of him every day. But people think I've got to [move] on. But I don't. I visit his grave all the time," Alice said.

She said she visits her son's grave every Sunday during the summer, and it helps with her grieving.

"You can't forget it," she said.

Keeping memories alive

Fred Bouzane said his son's memory was honoured in many ways. 

A sign was placed near the legion in St. Albans, and there's also a photo of Cpl. Stephen Bouzane by the legion's entrance.

A playground honouring local heroes also includes a plaque dedicated to Stephen, and the Town of Springdale has named a street after him.

"A lot of little, different things. And even stuff like this [interview]," Fred told CBC's On The Go host Ted Blades. 

"Even though it's hard to do, it helps keep their memories alive."