Sergeant Shane Stachnik

13 November 1975
3 September 2006


Articles on Echo 2 regarding Sgt Stachnik's death are posted here and here.  An online guest book can be found here and another online memoriam is here. (These links will open in a new window).

Legion magazine has published a 3 part article in their September/October, November/December 2007 and January/February 2008 issues regarding Operation Medusa: The Battle for Panjwai. This was the action where Sgt Stachnik lost his life. Part 1 can be found here, Part 2 is here, Part 3 is here.

The following are a number of articles from the Internet.

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
Deceased 3 September 2006

Sergeant Shane Hank Stachnik was killed in Afghanistan on 3 September, 2006, while serving with the Canadian Forces as a combat military engineer. He was originally from Waskatenau (pronounced Wah-set-ten-ah), Alberta and was serving with the Canadian Forces in 2 Combat Engineer Regiment based at CFB Petawawa when he was killed in an ambush while leading his section.

Sgt. Stachnik was killed during Operation Medusa, a ground offensive against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. He left behind his common-law spouse Darcy Mitton, two step children, Elliot and Samantha, aged 10 and 12 and his sister Deanna Yent. He was engaged to be married to Ms. Mitton on his return from Afghanistan.

He joined the CF in 1995 as a combat military engineer, was a veteran of two tours in Bosnia and had worked with the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) in Sri Lanka during the tsunami there. He also assisted with the Winnipeg flood relief in 1997. He was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan when he was killed.

Silver Cross Mother

The National Silver Cross Mother is chosen annually by The Royal Canadian Legion to represent the mothers of Canada at the National Remembrance Day Ceremony in Ottawa on 11 November. As the Silver Cross Mother, she will lay a wreath at the base of the National War Memorial on behalf of all mothers who lost children in the military service of their nation.

The Memorial Cross, the gift of Canada, was issued as a memento of personal loss and sacrifice on the part of widows and mothers of Canadian sailors and soldiers who died for their country during the war.

Details can be found here.

Interment Ceremony for Sergeant Shane Stachnik

MA-06-017 - September 9, 2006

An interment ceremony for Sergeant Shane Stachnik from 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, will be held Monday 11 September at 2:30 p.m at the National Military Cemetery of the Canadian Forces in Ottawa.

Sergeant Stachnik died on 3 September 2006 in Afghanistan while engaged in an operation supporting Afghan authorities.

Shane Stachnik's first tour in Afghanistan

Written by Brenda Hrycun
Published Wednesday September 20th, 2006 in the Smoky Lake Signal.

****Reprinted from the Smoky Lake Signal March 10, 2004****

Shane Stachnik has returned home from his tour of duty in Afghanistan. Yellow ribbons wrapped around poles and a welcome home sign greet him as he drives into Waskatenau.

Shane is stationed in Petawawa, Ontario but has the opportunity to fly home once each year to family. He joined the reserves one-year after high school graduation and became a member of the regular force in January of 1995 working his way up from Private to his current status of Master Corporal.

His past tours in 1996, 1998 and 2001 have taken him to Bosnia. Bosnia, where there are currently still members stationed, was calmer as compared to Afghanistan. August 12 of 2003 Shane touched down in Afghanistan and for him it was comparable to walking into a dune town in Star Wars. Dusty and dirty is how he described it with mostly mud huts as living accommodations and ditches serving as sewers. Very hot weather greeted his unit on arrival.

Their living quarters, constructed as tents with a canvas floor covering on top of a rocky bed, served as protection from hot temperatures, blowing sand, sun as well as cooler nights, down to about -10 degrees. Eight people share the insulated tent, which leaves very little space for living not to mention privacy. You can't exactly take an evening stroll alone outside of the compound so privacy is often achieved by just the movement of closing ones eyes as you work, eat and sleep in close quarters.

The danger of this tour is somewhat heightened as the possibility of combat is more likely. Soldiers are taught to not let their guard down as they are in a very different world. 99% of the people are good but it's often difficult to tell which 1% will cause you harm. You can't go in expecting to see radical changes, there has been some progress and most of the population is happy to see the military. There are thousands of children everywhere, some hurling the odd rock at the units as they drive by. One of the children's favourite toys are kites, which often get tangled in the vehicles passing.

The units try to take Friday off each week, but a seven-day workweek is not uncommon. Each member is allowed 35 minutes each week in telephone time along with 1/2 hour blocks on the internet to communicate with families and friends. "It's nice to be back home but now I have to start cooking for myself again," Shane chuckled. "You get so used to waking up each morning, strapping on all of your gear, which adds extra pounds, and then walking out into the unknown," he added.

"It's nice to be able to leave the house with just the clothes on your back and head into work." Members are given a stress debriefing prior to their return home and are also given a one-year reprieve of another overseas duty. Military life has given Shane the opportunity to travel parts of the world, good and bad, he would never have had the opportunity to otherwise see.

On March 22 he will be back to work at the base in Petawawa and resume a sort of normal life in a world that is a world away from where he has been for the last six months.

A Heroes Farewell For Sgt. Shane Stachnik

Written by Brenda Hrycun
Published Wednesday September 20th, 2006 in the Smoky Lake Signal.

It was a somber Friday as 400 people, including a large military presence, gathered in the Waskatenau Community Centre to say goodbye to Sgt. Shane Stachnik who died in combat in Afghanistan on September 3. The Village of Waskatenau's flags have been flying at half-mast since his death and it was shortly after that the black and yellow ribbons appeared, tied to telephone poles along main street as well as the Waskatenau Legion Old Timers Cabin.

On behalf of the family, Chaplain Padre Sutherland, along with Pastor Wayne Sykes of the Redwater Alliance Church, thanked the large gathering for attending the memorial service to honor and remember a fine soldier.

Deanne Yent, Shane's sister, eulogized a brother she looked up to. She remembered being a sidekick on adventures along the creek and seeing his patience after she'd once emptied a jar of grasshoppers he had collected for fish bait. "He patiently refilled it," she said, "it took a lot to get him upset and usually two Canadian (beers) for forgiveness." Shane was very popular among fellow soldiers easing tense situations with his quick wit. He loved his Harley and looked forward to one last ride before winter. "Shane made good friends across Canada and abroad who will keep his memory alive," she added. "My brother had the best of it all and will be sorely missed," she concluded.

Padre Sutherland opened up the mic inviting anyone to share their memories of Shane and what followed were very touching detailed memories from past teachers and friends.

Retired Principal Doug Scott offered his condolences to the family and shared his thoughts about a quiet, kind, polite and respectful young Shane. "He didn't have to work at those traits," said Doug, "because that's the way he was." Doug remembers his parents talking about soldiers who never returned home from duty and didn't think he'd be standing here today feeling this loss. "As parents we try to raise our kids to make their way in the world" and then step aside and support their vision. "The loss of a child is your worst nightmare and we share that burden," Doug said to Shane's parents Hank and Avril. Shane was the arm wrestling champion of Waskatenau School wrestling the title from a fellow female classmate. "His element was the outdoors and he was the kind of person you'd want to be in a bind with," added Doug. Shane returned to Waskatenau School following an overseas tour to share his experience with the students. He reminded the students of how lucky they were because he had been with children who were not so. Doug remembers Shane explaining to the students how he searched and destroyed mines when a grade one student asked him if there were diamonds in the mines. "Some northern Alberta lakes are named in honor of fallen soldiers and Shane Lake sounds pretty good to me," Doug concluded.

Past teacher Leo Sam, who learned of Shane's death via the news, portrayed Shane as a strong willed, quiet, yet gentle student with strong principles and ethics.

High School friend Brian Trenchuk knows why Shane was his friend "he had a lot of patience to put up with me". "He had a mom who cared a lot for him, made a lot of nice lunches packed into a denim lunch bag," said Brian. Brian recalled a frustrated Shane in English trying to grasp Shakespeare and struggling in Mr. Sara's math class until a new young female teacher appeared. "It was a privilege to spend time with him talking about our futures and I'm going to miss him a lot," said Brian.

The answer to the question on many people's minds of "WHY" would you want to go came from military wife Brenda Mykytiuk, whose husband Major Tom Mykytiuk is stationed in Wainwright. "When I come to these things I regret not saying anything," she said. "We didn't get to know Shane until after high school in Petawawa and people would laugh at these little places that we were from," she said. So why go? Supported by her sister Debbie and a friend, Brenda explained that that is what they are trained to do. It's like training to be a teacher and never getting to stand up in front of the classroom. They finally get into action and find out that it's a real place where the action is - it's their passion. "The best part for Shane," she added, "was to travel." "Be proud of him, he is definitely someone to be remembered with respect."

Lieutenant Colonel Alan Mulawyshyn explained what Shane has been doing since he left home 11 years ago to join another family - the military. He built bridges, removed obstacles, opened roads and purified water (something he was exceptional at). He had the respect of 10 young charges referred to as "sappers" and possessed a natural ability to bring people together to work as a team. Shane liked to be hands on with his troop, which often got him into trouble. He attended a lot of courses and was part of five overseas tours - Bosnia twice, DART Team member in Sri Lanka for the tsunami efforts and Afghanistan twice. "He always made an impression with his quiet professionalism," added Mulawyshyn, "and he died leading his section in battle in the middle of an ambush." "Be proud of Shane he was one of Canada's best." Mulawyshyn presented Avril and Hank with an Accommodation Award in Shane's name. It is a well-deserved award for Shane who served as a Commander in the water supply section in Sri Lanka.

Stella Jarema, accompanied by Sharon Phillips, complemented the afternoon with a beautiful version of "Precious Lord Take My Hand".

Padre Sutherland concluded the afternoon with a reminder to remember and honor Shane through his memory, "he quietly and humbly served and asked God to be with the family and lift them up." "Remember to tell stories about the man, soldier, hero, son, fiancé, brother and friend and be reminded of the joy, zeal and zest he brought to those who knew him."

A memorial fund in Shane's memory collected $5000 at the service and anyone wishing to donate can do so by mail to the Waskatenau & District Legion Branch #261, Box 254, Waskatenau, AB, T0A 3P0.

Shane will be remembered as a dedicated fiancé to Darcy and her children Elliot and Samantha, son to Avril and Hank, brother to Deanne and husband Ben, friend to many and a hero to all Canadians. Remembrance Day this year in Waskatenau will be different with another name added to the cenotaph as Shane becomes a part of history. He will also be remembered at the National Military Cemetery in Ottawa where burial took place.

© 2006 Smoky Lake Signal

Honouring our soldiers

Written by: Henia Martyniuk
Published Wednesday November 8th, 2006 in the Smoky Lake Signal.

For this community, Remembrance Day, 2006, will be different. Undoubtedly, as on every November 11, flags will be saluted, wreathes will be presented, all will listen respectfully to the sound of the bugle and hear the words: We Will Remember Them. There will be memories, but this year, the memories will be real, fresh, painful.

This year, we mourn the loss of Sgt. Shane Stachnik, 'one of our own'.

Shane's is not a name and rank of a soldier lost in a long-ago war in some far-away place. This is one of the 'kids' who grew up among us, attended our schools, one of the 'guys' who hung out with his friends. We know his family, his neighbours and his community.

We were happy to visit with Shane when he came home. We were delighted the afternoon he spent in his alma mater, H. A. Kostash School, no longer a boy, but a strong confident man, talking to his teachers about his life in the military. We chuckled silently as he picked his words carefully to avoid a slip into military vernacular.

We were proud that one of our community's sons chose a noble career as peacekeeper for Canada in aid of strife-stricken people in the world. We did not expect that, in our time, Shane would become a soldier facing war. We were concerned for his safety. We believed, naively, that war and loss affects other people, in other places. How complacent these generations have become!

At the memorial service in Shane's honour, I was seated between two ladies from this community. While we were there in common purpose, when they spoke, I realized each was reliving a different time, a different place, a different war. Each had lost a brother in World War II, - one of her own - one of our own. It was a reminder that others in the room understood better than I could ever understand the meaning of war, loss and sacrifice. Each lady held in her heart a secret that no amount of explaining could describe. It was a humbling experience.

So often in our personal and immediate grief, we forget the innocent victims of war, civilians, individuals and families, whose lives and homelands are shattered forever. These innocent dead are equally deserving of respect and dignity, their survivors equally deserving of compassion and empathy. On November 11, we must think of them and be mindful of the fact that we Canadians of this century are so fortunate to never have known the devastation of war on our soil.

Remembrance Day is a good day to honour and pay tribute to the military men and women of today, peacekeepers and soldiers, who willingly and knowingly risk their own safety in order to represent Canada on the world stage. They are proud of their role, and we are proud of them. We owe these men and women, and every one who has gone before, our gratitude.

A red poppy, a yellow ribbon, is such a small price for so great a sacrifice.

© 2006 Smoky Lake Signal 2 Combat Engineer Regiment

Alberta-raised soldier 'not one for fanfare'

Sep. 14, 2006. 02:19 PM


OTTAWA — While memorials around the world remembered the 9-11 terror attacks Monday, a ritual at the National Military Cemetery marked one of the most recent echoes from that five-year-old tragedy.

Family, friends and comrades buried Sgt. Shane Stachnik, a 30-year-old combat engineer killed in Afghanistan on Sept. 3. He was killed while fighting Taliban insurgents in an operation whose roots trace back to the New York and Washington terror attacks.

Canada followed the United States into Afghanistan against a Taliban regime that had harboured Al Qaeda terrorist camps and leaders. Stachnik was buried with the now-familiar trappings of a guard of honour, a firing party, muffled drums, a piper and a bugler.

His parents Hank and Avril Stachnik followed their son's flag-draped coffin into the cemetery. Hank Stachnik's head stooped. Stachnik, an Alberta native stationed at Petawawa, Ont., was one of four soldiers killed in Operation Medusa, a drive to push Taliban fighters out of a volatile region west of Kandahar.

He was also one of five soldiers from CFB Petawawa killed in a 24-hour period Sept. 3-4. Lt. Jean Johns, a comrade, linked the Sept. 11 dates five years apart, saying both were marked by mourning and grief. He said his fellow soldiers will remember Stachnik as a dedicated, yet fun-loving soldier. "We remember the grin that alluded to the infectious sense of humour that all who were close to him knew," Johns said.

Stachnik lived in Chalk River, just north of Petawawa. Johns said his friends knew him for his love of simpler things like working on his motorcycle and wearing lumberjack jackets. He was also looking forward to marrying his fiancee, Darcy Mitton. The two had yet to set a date for their wedding. They wanted to wait until he returned home from his tour of duty to begin planning their future.

Stachnik was a quiet man, Johns said, but the first to diffuse a tense situation with humour. Stachnik never looked for any glory, Johns said. He joined the military out of a desire to help the world.

"Shane lived his life the way many of us dream of — he lived to serve, to give and to love," Johns said. "He was not one for fanfare."  Throughout the sombre ceremony, Stachnik's father dabbed tears from his eyes while his wife looked ahead at her son's casket.

Stachnik, a member of 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, was due to finish his second tour of duty in Afghanistan in February. He was a veteran of the Canadian Forces, having served in the aftermath of the 1994 Manitoba flood and the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in Sri Lanka.