Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan
An Edmonton soldier is dead following a suicide bombing in Kabul on Saturday.
The death of Master Cpl. Byron Greff marks the first death of the Canadian Contribution to the NATO Training Mission. Greff’s role was to advise Afghan National Army trainers who provide recruit training to Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police members.
He was based in the Edmonton-based 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
Greff was among five International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) service members and eight ISAF civilian employees that died at 11:30 a.m. local time.
A spokesman for the ISAF in Kabul added three other civilians and a police officer were also killed in the attack on a convoy of military vehicles.
“Unfortunately, they were targeted by a vehicle that had a bomb on board,” said Lt. Col. Chris Lemay.
Greff joined the Canadian Forces in 2001 and was in his second deployment to Afghanistan.
He is survived by his wife and two children.
Greff’s death is the 158th reported among the 25,000 Canadian troops that have rotated through Afghanistan since 2002.
Brett Greff, a cousin in Calgary, said Byron’s parents would prefer not to speak about what’s happened at this time.
“My dad talked to my uncle, and he just said they’ve got no comment for anybody for the next couple of days,” he said.
On Saturday, Greff was recalled by a spokesman as a hard-working infantry soldier, qualified paratrooper, and member of the battalion’s reconnaissance platoon.
“To say that he was highly respected by his fellow soldiers would be an understatement,” the spokesman said.
In his free time, Greff enjoyed hunting and hockey, and in typical paratrooper fashion, he was extremely fit, the spokesman said.
“At this sad time, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of our fallen Canadian comrade,” the Canadian Forces said in a statement Saturday.
Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay issued a statement late Saturday, saying he was “deeply saddened” by Greff’s death.
“My heartfelt condolences and prayers go to his family, friends and comrades. The Defence family mourns with you during this difficult time,” he wrote. “M. Cpl Greff gave his life while proudly serving Canada and bringing hope to a population that has seen hardship and turmoil. We are all saddened by this loss and will remain forever grateful for his service.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is in Perth, Australia, for a meeting with other Commonwealth leaders, also issued a statement.
“On behalf of Canadians and of the Government of Canada, I would like to offer my most sincere condolences to the family and friends of Byron Garth Greff,” Harper wrote.
Governor General David Johnston said he and his wife, Sharon, join Canadians in mourning the loss of Greff.
“Even though our mission has changed to a non-combat role aimed at advancing security, the rule of law and human rights, Canadian Forces members and Canadian civilians face risks every day in the effort to rebuild Afghanistan,” he said in a statement. Greff “was devoted to our new role of providing training and professional development to the Afghan National Security Forces, answering the call to service with great integrity and courage.”
Greff’s remains will most likely be returned to Alberta on Tuesday or Wednesday, Lemay said.
The Canadian Contribution to the Training Mission-Afghanistan (CCTM-A) includes more than 900 Canadian Forces men and women, joining 4,500 other partners from 33 other nations in Afghanistan.
Originally published in the Trentonian, October 31st, 2011