Major Yannick Pépin
1973 - 6 Sep 09
Soldiers vow to finish job for fallen comrades
Roadside bomb kills 2; Quebec officer was
highest-ranking to die in combat
By Matthew Fisher,
Canwest News Service
The most senior Canadian to die in combat
in Afghanistan and one of his combat engineers began their long
journey back to Canada on Monday after their flag-draped caskets
were slowly marched on to a CC-130 Hercules transport as a lone
piper skirled a sad lament.
Maj. Yannick Pépin, 36, of Victoriaville, Que., commander of
the 51st Field Engineers Squadron of the 5th Combat Engineers,
and Cpl. Jean-François Drouin, 31, of Quebec City, who served
with the same unit, were killed and five other Canadians were
injured Sunday when their armoured vehicle struck an improvised
explosive device in Dand district, southwest of Kandahar City.
Three of the five wounded soldiers were released from
hospital by Monday. All were listed in good condition.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered, in a statement, his
condolences to the family and friends of the soldiers.
"The sacrifices of these soldiers will not be forgotten
and this tragic event will not deter us from continuing to help
Afghans rebuild their country," he said.
Quebec Premier Jean Charest added: "News of the death of
Yannick Pépin and Jean-François Drouin distresses us deeply
and touches all Quebecers ... In the name of all Quebecers I
salute their courage and generosity."
Five weeks ago, after a ramp ceremony for two of his sappers,
Pépin said: "Everybody has fear in a mission. If you
don't, you're not normal.
"My sappers go first ahead of everyone to save the lives
of civilians and soldiers."
Despite the deaths on Aug. 1 of Sapper Matthieu Allard and
Sapper Christian Bobbitt, Pépin, who joined the army in 1999,
had said his unit would only take 12 hours to mourn before
getting "back on the road."
Sapper Alexandre Beaudin-D'Anjou of Quebec City, his face
swollen and bloodied from wounds he suffered in Sunday's blast,
and Sapper Junior Lecours of Victoriaville, whose right arm was
in a huge cast, stood to attention with some difficulty beside
the rear door to the aircraft as the caskets of their fallen
comrades passed by.
After the ceremony was completed, Beaudin-D'Anjou made an
emotional appeal to his countrymen to try to understand the
Afghan mission better.
"I want to say that part of the Canadian population
negatively views the work that we do here, above all because
they don't understand what we do," Beaudin-D'Anjou said.
"In my opinion the majority of the Afghan population
benefits from what we do. Sadly, there are dangers in this, as
you saw in yesterday's incident. All the soldiers feel deeply
that we will finish this work for one another."
Beaudin-D'Anjou's own recollections of the blast and
aftermath were incomplete because he lost consciousness soon
after the incident.
"I was hit on the left side of my face," the sapper
said. "All I could think of was, 'Can I move my arms and my
legs?' My first reflex was to call out to those who were with
me. Some called back. Others didn't."
Pépin and Drouin were attached to the Royal 22nd Regiment battle group and were in the last weeks of their six-month tour.
The French-speaking Van Doos will be replaced soon by a
battle group drawn largely from the Alberta-based Princess
Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.
Pépin is survived by his partner, Annie, and their two
children, Alexandra and Charles. Drouin leaves behind his
Drouin was a great favourite of the other engineers, who
called him "Big Drou," said Col. Roch Lacroix, the
deputy commander of Task Force Kandahar. He had been a sapper
for only three years, but had received an "accelerated
promotion" to corporal before deploying for Afghanistan
with his unit.
"The promotion was testimony of the high regard in
which he was held and his devotion and desire were
unsurpassed," the colonel said.
"He was a very generous man with a heart as big as the
three barbells he liked to lift at the gym.
"He was a bon vivant who liked to make others laugh.
His favourite phrase was, 'Why do tomorrow what you can do
Lacroix also recalled the time when Pépin stopped while on
patrol to fetch a kite that had been caught in his vehicle's
antenna "and handed it to a small Afghan child who
thought it had been lost," the colonel said.
"On that day we wore a big grin."
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Two Canadian soldiers killed and five injured in an explosive device strike
CEFCOM NR–09.023 - September 6, 2009
OTTAWA– Two Canadian soldiers were killed and five injured when an improvised explosive device detonated near their armoured vehicle in the vicinity of Dand District, approximately 14 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City at around 12:00 p.m., Kandahar time, on 6 September 2009.
Killed in action was Corporal Jean-François Drouin from 5e Régiment du génie de combat serving as a member of the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group based in Valcartier, Quebec.
Killed in action was Major Yannick Pépin also from 5e Régiment du génie de combat serving as a member of the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group based in Valcartier, Quebec.
The injured members were evacuated by helicopter to the Role 3 Multi-National Medical Facility at the Kandahar Airfield and are in good condition. The identities of the injured members will not be released.
Our thoughts and condolences go to the family and friends of our fallen comrades.
Canadian soldiers and their ANSF partners work together for the greater good of Afghanistan. Security operations sometimes require a heavy price to be paid, but the challenge we face cannot deter us from our ultimate goal and commitment we have toward Afghans.