Military Engineer awarded Medal of Military Valour
Master Corporal Marc-André J. M. Rousseau, M.M.V.
La Sarre, Quebec
On August 3, 2010, while Master Corporal Rousseau was
conducting an exercise with a group of civilians at the Kandahar
Airfield, insurgents blew a hole in the fence in an attempt to force
their way inside. Despite being under heavy fire, Master Corporal
Rousseau led two comrades over exposed ground, occupied a nearby
vehicle and aggressively engaged the enemy. Without regard for his own
safety, Master Corporal Rousseau demonstrated outstanding leadership
and courage, which proved vital to winning the battle and saving
countless lives on the airfield.
Sappers honoured for defending NATO base
The Canadian Press
Updated: Fri. Aug. 13 2010 2:25 PM ET
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — They were out testing some new
equipment, just outside the security fence that surrounds the
massive NATO military base in Kandahar.
They were so close that they didn't even have flak vests on
-- their "kit," as soldiers call it.
That's when the trio of Canadian soldiers heard an explosive
boom, said Sgt. Marc Andre Rousseau, one of the three who
received a commendation Friday for their courage during the Aug.
3 insurgent attack on Kandahar Airfield, the largest NATO base
in southern Afghanistan.
After taking cover in a bunker, they heard another
rocket-propelled grenade explode about 50 metres away, and a
firefight break out involving a group of U.S. soldiers who also
happened to be in the area when the daylight attack occurred.
They quickly decided to act.
"I told them let's go, we're going to return fire,"
said Rousseau, a commander of the Combat Engineers in Kandahar
and a member of the Royal 22e Regiment, based in Valcartier,
"We ran outside the bunker. There, I looked to my right
and we got a visual contact with the insurgents."
"So, we ran out from the bunker with no kit. 'Oh my God,
they're right there'," recalled Rousseau, 27.
The attackers were about 75 metres away, firing on the
Americans with AK-47s and a RPG.
Sapper Kirk Farrell, a 29-year-old soldier from Petawawa,
Ont., jumped in the driver's seat of their light armoured
vehicle, and Cpl. Joseph Henry, 32, also a member of the Combat
Engineers from Valcartier, took command. Rousseau climbed into
the gun turret mounted on top of the vehicle.
"At the moment I'm aiming at the insurgents, the first
guy blew himself up. That makes a big dust cloud," he said.
Rousseau said he knew the suicide bomber was too far from the
rest of the insurgents to have killed them in the explosion.
The other insurgents were obscured by the dust somewhere
between the Canadians' vehicle and a hole in the fence from the
Rousseau took aim at the dust cloud where he'd seen the
attackers. He unleashed 10 rounds of 25mm incendiary ammunition,
which explodes on contact.
When the dust lifted, between eight and 10 attackers were
"It wasn't pretty," he said. "If you hit
directly someone with that, they completely disappear, kind of.
So it's hard to say exactly how many there were."
Royal Air Force Air Commodore Gordon Moulds, commander of
Kandahar Airfield, presented the trio with certificates
commending them for "courage, excellence and steadfastness
in the face of danger."
The special ceremony was held in front of the memorial to
Canadian soldiers who have been killed in action in Kandahar.
Rousseau, who is on his second tour in Afghanistan, is proud
of the actions he, Farrell and Henry took, although he said he
acknowledged it may be difficult for anyone outside the military
to understand that pride.
"You train really hard to be ready for this experience.
So when it happens to you, it's hard to understand for civilians
... when you're well-trained and you know what you're doing and
if you're sure that what you do is right, you feel good."
It is not the first time he's been in a firefight with
insurgents. Two fellow soldiers were killed by roadside bombs
during an operation to take back a forward operating base at
Ghundy Ghar from the Taliban in 2008.