Alta. woman's Silver Cross honour too painful for husband
Don Retson Canwest News Service, Friday, November 07, 2008
EDMONTON - An Alberta woman says she's honoured to be chosen as this year's Silver Cross Mother, but her husband says it would be too painful to join her at the wreath-laying ceremony in the nation's capital.
Avril Stachnik will lay a wreath at the base of the National War Memorial on Remembrance Day on behalf of all mothers who've lost children in military service to their country.
"It's definitely an honour and I didn't hesitate at all to take on this responsibility," Avril Stachnik said, adding that the toughest part for her was keeping it all a secret for 10 months.
Her son, Sgt. Shane Stachnik, 30, was a combat engineer, who was killed in a firefight with the Taliban on Sept. 3, 2006.
He was attacked while leading troops during a ground offensive in southern Afghanistan.
Three other Canadians - Warrant Officer Richard Nolan, Warrant Officer Frank Mellish and Pte. William Cushley of the 1st Battalion - were also killed in the firefight, one of the most deadly for Canada in Afghanistan.
"Shane was just a regular guy," Avril Stachnik said from Ottawa.
"He didn't put on any false airs, but he was a good leader and a good role model, very kind and personable."
Her husband, Hank, chose to remain at the family farm near Waskatenau, about 100 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, rather than accompany his wife to Ottawa.
The ceremony would have been just too painful, he said.
"It's like I told my wife," Hank said from Waskatenau.
"You do whatever you want. None of this is going to bring our son back. That was my pride and joy."
Sgt. Stachnik also left behind his sister, Deanna Yent, and fiancee Darcy Mitton and her two children.
The couple planned to marry as soon as Stachnik finished his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.
"They even bought the rings and everything," said Hank.
Each year since 1950, the Royal Canadian Legion has selected a mother or widow of a fallen Canadian soldier to represent the families of slain soldiers at the National Remembrance Day Ceremony in Ottawa on Nov. 11.
This year's ceremony will also commemorate the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
It will include a "passing of the torch" ritual that will see the torch of Remembrance passed from a Second World War veteran to a Korean veteran, then to a peacekeeping veteran and finally to a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.
© Edmonton Journal 2008
2008 Memorial (Silver) Cross Mother
Mrs. Avril Dianna Stachnik
Mrs. Avril Dianna Stachnik of Waskatenau (pronounced Wah-set-ten-ah) Alberta, has been selected by The Royal Canadian Legion as the 2008 Memorial (Silver) Cross Mother. She will serve in this position until the end of October 2009. She is the mother of the late army Sergeant Shane Hank Stachnik, also of Waskatenau. Sergeant Stachnik was killed in Afghanistan 3 September, 2006, while taking part in Operation MEDUSA.
Sgt. Stachnik was killed in an ambush while leading his section during a ground offensive against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. Beside his parents, Avril and Hank, he left behind his common-law spouse Darcy Mitton, two step children, Elliot and Samantha, aged 10 and 12, and a sister, Deanna Yent. He was engaged to be married to Ms. Mitton on his return from Afghanistan. He was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan when he was killed.
Mrs. Stachnik will lay a wreath at the National War Memorial during the annual 11 November National Remembrance Day Ceremony on behalf of all Canadian mothers who have lost sons or daughters in the military or Merchant Navy services of the nation. The ceremony is organized and conducted by the Legion on behalf of the Government of Canada and in memory of all Canadians who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of freedom and peace.
This year's ceremony will also commemorate the 90th anniversary of the end World War 1 and will include a "Passing the Torch" ritual which will see the Torch of Remembrance passed from a Second World War veteran, to a Korean War veteran, then to a Peacekeeping veteran and finally to a veteran of the War in Afghanistan.
Mrs. Avril Dianna Stachnik of Waskatenau (pronounced Wah-set-ten-ah), Alberta, is originally from Edmonton, which is 100 miles to the northwest. She attended Jasper Place Composite High School in Edmonton. She is the mother of the late Sergeant Shane Hank Stachnik who was killed in Afghanistan on 3 September 2006 while serving with the Canadian Forces as a military engineer.
Mrs. Stachnik has been married to Hank Stachnik of Waskatenau since 1971 and they have had two children, the late Sgt. Stachnik and his younger sister Deanna who is married to Ben Yent. Mrs. Stachnik is currently employed in the bakery business.
Sergeant Shane Hank Stachnik