Sergeant Gregory John Kruse
1968 - 27 December 2008
Sergeant Gregory John Kruse was amongst two Canadian soldiers, as well as one member of the Afghan National Police and one Afghan interpreter that were killed on 27 December 2008, when an explosive device detonated in their vicinity in the Panjwayi District.
Sgt. Gregory Kruse remembered
Posted By Tina Peplinskie, Pembroke Daily Observer
ASU PETAWAWA - Family, friends and colleagues of Sgt. Gregory John Kruse gathered Monday to say goodbye to an outstanding soldier, military leader and loving family man.
As the hearse carrying the flag-draped casket of the fallen Canadian soldier arrived for the service, the car with his family stopped in front of St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Chapel. Sgt. Kruse's children Kari, 11, and twin daughters Megan and Victoria, 6, emerged from the car each clutching a brown teddy bear to her chest. His widow Jill then got out, took the twin's hands and walked towards the church, but not before they paused for a brief second in front of the engineers honour guard.
They all huddled together with other family members outside the doors watching as the pallbearers carried the casket past the honour guard and into the church.
Hundreds of people, including members of the Canadian Forces and civilians, packed the church to honour the life and memory of Sgt. Kruse, 40, who died Dec. 27 while serving his country in Afghanistan as a member of 2 Combat Engineer Regiment's 24 Field Squadron.
He was killed after an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in the Panjwayi District, about 25 kilometres west of Kandahar City.
Warrant Officer Gaetan Roberge, of the 2nd Battalion, The Irish Regiment of Canada was killed in the same attack and Pte. Michael Freeman of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, was killed a day earlier when the LAV III (Light Armoured Vehicle) he was travelling in was hit by an IED explosion.
As a brisk wind blew outside, the church was filled with warmth as friends and comrades shared stories.
Col. Dean Milner, commander of 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, delivered one of four eulogies.
He remembered Sgt. Kruse as an outstanding noncommissioned officer who was dedicated to his troops and to the current Afghan mission. While overseas, he led his soldiers in combat, always with their well-being at the forefront of his concerns. He was also involved in a number of projects in Afghanistan such as building a dam and serving on the critical quick reaction force.
"Today we are remembering a great soldier," he said outside the church following the two-hour service.
Also sharing memories of Sgt. Kruse through eulogies were Col. Robert Testa, chief military engineer from Ottawa, fellow soldier and sapper Warrant Officer Dave Camp, and Edwin Eden who shared a story about his friend's love of chocolate chip cookies.
Despite the sad and tragic occasion, Col. Milner said the mood inside the church was good as they focused on the good times and happy memories of Sgt. Kruse's life.
The overall morale of the soldiers is also good and their resolve is even greater to carry on with the mission.
"When we lose a soldier, Canadians rise to the occasion," he said. "We think about who we've lost, but the soldiers know we need to get on with the mission of defeating the Taliban."
Last week Col. Milner had a chance to spend about and hour with Ms. Kruse and her mother. The Kruse's shared a strong faith, which she is relying on to help her get through this tough time, Col. Milner said.
"We have resources available and the family is thankful for the support of the brigade at this time," he added.
Ms. Kruse and her children will remain in the area until the end of the school year then will move to a house they had built near Fredericton, New Brunswick to be closer to family.
Sgt. Kruse joined the Canadian Forces in 1989. This was his fourth overseas mission, the first a two-month surge in Crotia, the second a six-month tour of duty in Bosnia in 1999, and in 2001 he served with Task Force East Africa where he was employed as a water supply detachment commander. He deployed to Afghanistan in August 2008.
Slain sergeant cared for his troops 'above all else'
By Thulasi Srikanthan, The Ottawa Citizen
CFB PETAWAWA — Hundreds of mourners packed the Roman Catholic Chapel at CFB Petawawa Monday for the funeral of Sgt. Gregory Kruse.
Jill Kruse watched silently, holding on to one of her daughters, as her husband's casket was brought from a car and set to enter the chapel. Relatives comforted another daughter as the bagpipes started to play. Sgt. Kruse had three young daughters.
He was killed Dec. 27 along with Warrant Officer Gaetan Roberge while inspecting an improvised explosive device, or IED, found during a security patrol in the Panjwaii district of Afghanistan, about 25 kilometres west of Kandahar City.
An Afghan interpreter and a member of the Afghan National Police also died in the blast. Four other Canadians and two Afghans were injured.
Sgt. Kruse, an engineer section commander with 24 Field Squadron, 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, was remembered recently as a quiet and gentle man who loved being a sapper and who took pride in his work.
"He cared about his soldiers above just about everything else and the only thing he cared second to his soldiers was absolute success in everything he (did) as a soldier," said Maj. Matthew Sandy, commanding officer of 24 Field Squadron.
Sgt. Kruse also worked with the squadron's quick-reaction force, responding to dangerous calls involving IEDs.
That's what he was doing when he and other members of the quick-reaction force came out to examine a homemade bomb discovered by Warrant Officer Roberge and his team of Afghan police officers.
Military officials said it wasn't yet clear whether it was that bomb that caused the explosion, or if another had been planted in the area. The matter remains under investigation.
Maj. Sandy said many soldiers owe their lives to the work Sgt. Kruse did in Afghanistan.
"As an engineer, he gets people to where they want to go and once they are there, he makes sure they are safe to do their jobs. That's what he does."
At their home base in Petawawa, Col. Dean Milner, commander of the 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group at CFB Petawawa, added: "It is always difficult to receive the news that our comrades have fallen, but it is especially difficult at this time of year."
In a statement, Jill Kruse remembered him as a loving husband and father of three young daughters, Kari and twins Victoria and Megan.
"He believed in his mission and he was where he wanted to be. He did not plan on this. His plan was to come back from his mission and take us back to our home in New Brunswick."
Sgt. Kruse, born in New Brunswick, was a combat engineer who was on his third overseas tour. He had been with the Forces for 19 years and had served in Bosnia and Eritrea.
"Tell his comrades he would want you to carry on for him. Ubique, Chimo," she said.
Ubique is the Latin motto of the Canadian combat engineers that means everywhere. Chimo, derived from Inuktitut, is a toast or greeting intended to convey among other things, peace be with you or goodbye.
with files from Canwest News Service
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Three Petawawa soldiers killed
Monday, December 29, 2008
Posted By ANTHONY DIXON, STAFF WRITER
CFB Petawawa and Canada paid a heavy price in Afghanistan this weekend as three soldiers from the base, including the husband of Pembroke Daily Observer editorial board columnist Jill Kruse, were killed in two separate attacks.
On Saturday, Sgt. Gregory John Kruse of 24 Field Squadron, 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, was killed in an explosion while dealing with an improvised explosive device (IED). He was serving as a member of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group.
Also killed in action was Warrant Officer Gaetan Roberge, of the 2nd Battalion, The Irish Regiment of Canada. He was serving as a member of the Police Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT).Warrant Officer Roberge wore the cap badge of the Vandoos but was deployed with the OMLT and conducted his pre-deployment training in Petawawa with the 1st Battalion, the Royal Canadian Regiment -led OMLT.
The Saturday blast that killed Sgt. Kruse and Warrant Officer Roberge also killed an Afghan police officer and a local interpreter, wounded four other Canadian soldiers and another Afghan interpreter.
The incident occurred at approximately 12:15 p. m. local time, about 25 kilometres west of Kandahar City. The soldiers were on foot conducting security operations in the area.
Warrant Officer Roberge was part of the Canadian team mentoring Afghanistan's fledgling national police force. He and the Afghan police were on a foot patrol about 25 kilometres west of Kandahar City when they came across a suspected bomb. His team called the military's quick reaction force, which Sgt. Kruse was part of, to deal with the bomb. Military officials say there was a deadly explosion sometime after the team arrived at the scene. The injured soldiers were airlifted to Kandahar Airfield and were reported in good condition.
The incident happened just hours before troops at the Kandahar Airfield said farewell to Pte. Freeman at a ramp ceremony.
Col. Dean Milner, Commander 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2CMBG), held a press conference at CFB Petawawa Sunday morning.
"It is always difficult to receive the news that our comrades overseas have fallen, but it is especially difficult at this time of year," Col. Milner said.
He offered condolences to the families of Pte. Freeman, Sgt. Kruse and Warrant Officer Roberge on behalf of the brigade and the base.
"This brigade is a tight-knit family and I will ensure every resource available to me will be made available to the families of the fallen. My absolute priority is to support the families of our fallen soldiers and to all families of deployed soldiers," he said.
Col. Milner described Sgt. Kruse as an accomplished soldier who led from the front, providing an excellent example for his troops to follow.
Born in Campbellton, New Brunswick, Sgt. Kruse was deployed on his third overseas tour.
He is survived by three young daughters and his wife Jill Kruse who issued a statement about her husband.
"He was a loving husband and father. He believed in his mission and he was where he wanted to be. He did not plan on this. His plan was to come back from his mission and take us back to our home in New Brunswick. Tell his comrades he would want you to carry on for him, Ubique, Chimo," she wrote.
Ms. Kruse is a member of The Pembroke Daily Observer's community editorial board and has written in the paper often regarding the Canadian mission in Afghanistan and military life.
Just days before her husband was killed, she had e-mailed a military padre at the Kandahar Airfield asking him to pray for the families of fallen soldiers.
"Christmas has finally come and our soldier isn't home," she wrote. "And for some families, they won't have their soldiers sit at their table for Christmas dinner again."
Her husband died days later. The e-mail was read during a twilight ramp ceremony as soldiers bid farewell to Sgt. Kruse and Warrant Officer Roberge.
© 2008 , Sun Media
'I just want him home, safe with us'
By JILL KRUSE
Last Updated: 29th December 2008, 1:07pm, Toronto Sun
Jill Kruse is a columnist with The Pembroke Daily Observer. Her husband was one of the three soldiers killed in Afghanistan on the weekend. This column appeared on March 1.
As the wife of a military man going on 12 years now, deployment is certainly not a new concept. My combat engineer has served twice in Bosnia and once in Africa. But no matter what's gone on before, nothing can prepare my three little girls or me for this one.
These are the random thoughts and fears of one Canadian military wife facing her duty here at home. Keepers of the home fires, they call us. Before I digress, I want to state I do support this mission and the soldiers who are risking their lives for it. I believe most military spouses go through at least some of the emotional turmoil I am experiencing.
My first thought was: This is not what I signed up for. But I can't think like that. I've had lots of conversations with my soldier and others to know that this is what he signed up for, and by marrying him then, well, that's just what you accept going in. And somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew this kind of tour was always a possibility.
When we said 'I do' back in June of '96, there was no 9/11, no war in Iraq, no terrorists in Afghanistan. His comrades were not coming home in boxes on a regular basis. The few who did were victims of unfortunate road accidents or of the dreaded friendly fire. I was cautiously optimistic that he wouldn't have to face "real combat." After all, he's a peacekeeper. We'd be okay.
Then 9/11 happened. It changed everything.
I understand my soldier's need to do what he's trained for. I get that. But, this time it's different. On this tour, he faces real danger. Real conflict. Real roadside bombs and deadly suicide attacks.
Being a spoiled Canuck it's really hard for me to get my head around the idea of "war." I don't have any experience with that concept.
He and other military friends and spouses are eager to reassure me that his "training" will protect him. I really want to believe that. But, damn, it's hard. How can his training protect him from crazy suicide bombers and hidden IE devices? It's not the insurgents killing our soldiers. It's this (expletive) Taliban form of Russian roulette!
Since I am a military wife and journalist, I try to keep informed. I've studied the tragic political history of Afghanistan and the atrocities they've suffered. I get why my soldier wants to go there to try to make a difference. Basically, I want that too. As a woman who has enjoyed the fundamental freedoms of attending school, going to work or just walking in my community, I am genuinely moved by the plight of Afghan women and girls who live without such privileges. It's unjust; it's wrong. They deserve better.
Yet as a mom and a woman who's facing the real possibility of losing the man I love and our future as a family in this almighty battle for freedom and justice, I really struggle with letting him go. I have to believe it's for a good cause.
Otherwise, I am doomed before his tour even begins. I remind myself that these poor people deserve to live in peace; their children deserve to have what my children have. These women deserve to pursue their dreams. What if it were me? Wouldn't I want his help? Of course. I just want somebody else to do it.
I also wonder if he would have the courage to let me go? Could he let me, the mother of his children, go to some strange war-torn country and risk life and limb without a second thought? Of course, he could. He's trained to support my mission. But I am not trained for this.
TERRIFIED TO LOSE HIM
A voice in my selfish heart calls out; the one who's absolutely terrified to lose him. The voice is screaming "No! I don't want to think about what he wants, the importance of the mission or the needs of the Afghan people. Forgetting for a moment the absolute horror of Sept. 11, I just want him home, safe with us. I want off this bus to Hell. Or, at least, give me a detour!"
Then I remind myself of the stats in our favour; of how fortunate we've been so far. Thousands of our soldiers have served and survived this mission two and three times. They made it, didn't they? And, I speak daily with a friend whose husband is on his third tour. Her positive attitude and cheerful disposition inspires me to accept what's coming and face it with strong resolve, with genuine courage. My soldier has that in spades. I have to get some if I am to survive this deployment. And faith -- without my faith I don't think I would have made it this far.
So okay, this is what I must do. I have to believe in his training, accept the altruistic goal of the mission, and have faith God will protect him and bring him home alive. Because, in the end, what it all comes down to is that as his wife he needs my support more than anything.
So here it is. Sgt. Gregory Kruse, you are the bravest person I know. Period. You are our hero. May God guide and protect you in your service and help me find the courage to support you despite my fears and my desire to pretend Afghanistan and countries like it do not exist.
Wife's email read at soldiers' farewell
'Christmas has come and our soldier isn’t home'
By STEVE RENNIE, THE CANADIAN PRESS Monday, December 29, 2008
Last Updated: 28th December 2008, 12:49pm
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Days before a
bomb blast killed her husband in southern Afghanistan, Jill
Kruse emailed a military padre at Kandahar Airfield asking him
to pray for the families of fallen soldiers.
Roadside bomb attacks have killed nine Canadian soldiers this month alone. December is now the bloodiest month since April 2007, when nine soldiers were killed.
The blood of many Canadian soldiers stains the dusty terrain of the Panjwai and Zhari districts. Since assuming responsibility for Kandahar province in 2006, Canadian forces have staged several major offensives aimed at driving the Taliban from the two districts.
The Canadian commander of coalition forces in Kandahar, Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson, said bad luck played a role in the latest deaths.
“At the end of the day, it’s a game of inches, and it’s very much a question of probability sometimes,” he said.
“Sometimes you’re in the win column and sometimes you’re not. And unfortunately ... we’re particularly unlucky.”
Nine lives lost in bloody December
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN - One day after gathering at a ramp ceremony to honour Canada's 104th fallen soldier, coalition forces stood together again on the runway tarmac here at sunset to send off two more of their own.
Warrant Officer Gaetan Roberge and Sergeant Gregory Kruse died Dec. 27 while inspecting an improvised explosive devise, or IED, found during a security patrol in the Panjwaii district, about 25 kilometres west of Kandahar City.
An Afghan interpreter and a member of the Afghan National Police also died in the blast. Four more Canadians and two Afghans were injured.
Yesterday, both men were remembered as dedicated, professional soldiers who loved their jobs.
Warrant Officer Roberge, a member of the Royal 22nd Regiment, had returned from leave the day before his death, and had immediately insisted on rejoining his crew in the work of mentoring and training the Afghan National Police force.
Captain Shane Gapp, Warrant Officer Roberge's platoon commander, described Warrant Officer Roberge as an exceptionally strong man, who once ate eight portions of military rations and could lift a truck.
Warrant Officer Roberge was also a man of strong faith "who didn't hesitate in demanding communion or a prayer of support whenever he felt the need," said Padre Michel Dion.
Sgt. Kruse -- an engineer section commander with 24 Field Squadron, 2 Combat Engineer Regiment -- was a quiet and gentle man who loved being a sapper and who took pride in his work.
"He cared about his soldiers above just about everything else and the only thing he cared second to his soldiers was absolute success in everything he [did] as a soldier," said Major Matthew Sandy, commanding officer of 24 Field Squadron.
Sgt. Kruse also worked with the squadron's quick-reaction force, responding to calls involving IEDs.
That is what he was doing when he and other members of the quick-reaction force went out to examine a homemade bomb discovered by Warrant Officer Roberge and his team of Afghan police officers.
Military officials said it was not yet clear whether it was that bomb that caused the explosion, or if another had been planted in the area. The matter remains under investigation.
At their home base in Petawawa, Ont., the soldiers were remembered yesterday.
"It is always difficult to receive the news that our comrades have fallen, but it is especially difficult at this time of year," said Colonel Dean Milner, commander of the 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group at CFB Petawawa.
At the ramp ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Padre Dion read from an e-mail written shortly before Christmas by Sgt. Kruse's wife, Jill.
"Thank you to all the soldiers who continue to make sacrifices for us to enjoy the life that we have here in Canada. Christmas has finally come and our soldier isn't home and for over 2,700 families their soldiers won't be home either and for some families they won't have their soldiers sit at their table for Christmas dinner again. Please keep praying for the troops who are deployed, the families who support them and the families whose soldiers have fallen," the e-mail stated.
Sgt. Kruse was the father of three girls: Kari and twins Victoria and Megan.
Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.
Petawawa grieves for its fallen soldiers
By Thulasi Srikanthan
CFB PETAWAWA, Ont. — Even the holiday season offered no respite for the Petawawa community, which found itself grieving Sunday the loss of three more Canadian soldiers.
“It is always difficult to receive the news that our comrades have fallen, but it is especially difficult at this time of year,” said Col. Dean Milner, commander of the 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group at CFB Petawawa.
Pte. Michael Freeman died Friday in an IED strike in the Zharey district of Kandahar province.
Warrant Officer Gaetan Roberge and Sgt. Gregory John Kruse died in a bomb blast on Saturday in the Panjwaii district in Kandahar.
Milner remembered the three men as tremendous soldiers, who all had links to the Petawawa community.
Freeman and Kruse were based at Petawawa while Roberge spent time conducting training in the area.
Freeman was from Peterborough and was on his first overseas mission. He was remembered as someone who had a smile on his face every morning.
The wife of Kruse, Jill Kruse, also released a statement remembering her husband as a loving father and husband.
“He believed in his mission and he was where he wanted to be,” said Kruse. “He did not plan on this.”
She said her husband’s plan was to come back from the mission and take the family back to New Brunswick.
“Tell his comrades he would want you to carry on for him.”
Sgt. Kruse was a combat engineer who was on his third overseas tour. He had been with the Forces for 19 years.
He was an “accomplished soldier who led his soldiers from the front and always provided an excellent example,” said Milner.
Roberge was on his second overseas deployment and was remembered as a “fit, intense, and extremely professional soldier.”
He “always inspired his soldiers to accomplish their mission,” Milner said.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
‘It seems so surreal that he's gone'
December 28, 2008 at 9:15 PM EST
It was a week before Christmas when a soldier knocked on Jill Kruse's door bearing a precious gift from her husband serving in Afghanistan.
That's just the kind of thoughtful guy Sergeant Gregory Kruse was, according to his wife. He'd picked out a precious stone two months earlier while he was home on leave from his mission in Kandahar. He had arranged for a fellow soldier to pick up and deliver the rock so it would be under the tree at their home in Pembroke, Ont., on the 25th.
Another soldier knocked on the same family door yesterday, this time bearing grim tidings that Sgt. Kruse was dead.
“It was a beautiful sapphire diamond necklace, and now I don't want it,” Ms. Kruse said. “I want him. I just want him. I loved him so much. It seems so surreal that he's gone.”
Warrant Officer Roberge and Sgt. Gregory John Kruse were killed during a security patrol in the Panjway district, in the western part of Kandahar province. The explosion wounded three other Canadian soldiers and another Afghan interpreter. (Canadian Press/DND)
Sgt. Kruse died along with Warrant Officer Gaétan Roberge Saturday. Sgt. Kruse, a sapper with 24 Field Squadron, 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ont., had been called by WO Roberge's unit to deal with a bomb found while he was leading and training Afghan soldiers. Four other Canadian soldiers were wounded.
Michel Dion, a padre at Kandahar Airfield, described WO Roberge as a man with a gruff exterior but a big heart and deep faith. He was “kind of like Kentucky Fried Chicken: Crispy on the outside, soft and juicy on the inside,” the padre said at the ramp ceremony.
Platoon commander Captain Shane Gapp described the Warrant Officer as a great man who was “quick to laugh, quick to love and always did the best job he possibly could.”
The Roberge family gathered yesterday at his home in Sudbury, Ont., with his four children and wife, Joanne. Stormy conditions slowed travel for some family members. WO Roberge of the Royal 22nd Regiment was serving with the Irish Regiment of Canada in Sudbury, Ont.
Private Michael Freeman died Friday in another roadside bombing while on patrol in an armoured vehicle in the nearby Zhari district.
The 28-year-old's family remembered him yesterday as an enthusiastic outdoorsman and devoted military man who loved to make others laugh. He was quick to ham it up with children in Afghanistan, or hand out a pen or candy.
“He was quite a guy, a very amiable sort,” the soldier's grandfather, Gordon Freeman, said from the family's hometown of Peterborough, Ont.
Ms. Kruse, a journalist, has chronicled the life of her military family, including 11-year-old daughter, Kari, and their six-year old twins, Victoria and Megan, since Sgt. Kruse began training for Afghanistan.
Friends took the girls out for a skate yesterday while Ms. Kruse made arrangements with the military for Tuesday's repatriation ceremony. “My little girls don't really understand,” Ms. Kruse said. “My 11-year-old girl, she understands. But she's holding up. She worships her dad.”
The couple firmly believed in the mission, although the staggering risks weighed on Ms. Kruse. In her most recent column for the local paper, Ms. Kruse urged readers to pray for the troops. “Christmas has finally come and our soldier isn't home,” she wrote days before her husband died. “And for some families, they won't have their soldiers sit at their table for Christmas dinner again.”
The Kruse family had lived in Ontario for the past 18 months after spending most of Sgt. Kruse's military career in Gagetown, N.B. Sgt. Kruse was originally from Gaspé, Que., but the family considered New Brunswick home.
Sgt. Kruse called home on the 25th with another present for the family. He had obtained a posting in Gagetown, so the family would be returning to their family and friends after his return in March.
“We were going home. . . we were all so happy,” Ms. Kruse said. “We were really looking forward to going home, and then this happened.”
With a report from The Canadian Press
Roadside bomb kills two more Canadian soldiers
Two Afghans also killed
Dec 28, 2008 , The Canadian Press