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My sincere condolences to the families. Just a shame.
TRENTON, Ont. — The Queen has expressed deep sadness at the deaths of two Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
The bodies of the two were returned to Canada today.
In a private message to their commanding officers, Her Majesty asked that her condolences be conveyed to their families.
The Queen is currently on a visit to Canada.
A military plane carrying the remains of Master Cpl. Kristal Giesebrecht and Pte. Andrew Miller arrived at CFB Trenton, in eastern Ontario, this afternoon.
Giesebrecht, 34, and Miller, 21, died Saturday when a roadside bomb exploded near Kandahar City.
The two medical technicians were serving with the Task Force Kandahar Health Services Unit.
A motorcade with their caskets will travel along the Highway of Heroes to Toronto, and the Route of Heroes in the city to the coroner's office.
With their deaths, 150 members of the Canadian Forces members have died in the Afghan mission that began in 2002.
OSHAWA -- Ruth Kennedy wiped away tears as she stood in the centre of the Albert Street bridge Tuesday afternoon, surrounded by a crowd of flag-waving supporters there to pay their respects to the latest soldiers to die in Afghanistan.
She is part of the extended family of Private Andrew Miller, 21, who died June 26, alongside Master Corporal Kristal Giesebrecht, 34. The soldiers’ armoured vehicle detonated an improvised explosive device.
“We just came to say goodbye to Andrew...he was so very proud to be helping over there,” Ms. Kennedy said. “Andrew was such a great guy. He went there to help and obviously he was a big help. He was a medic, and every time the troops went out to do something...he would be going along. He helped right to the end.”
The two most recent deaths bring the number of Canadian troops killed in Afghanistan to 150, and the number of female Canadian soldiers killed in combat, to four.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s 150 or one million, each one is somebody’s family or their loved one,” said Ken Moreau, who tries to come out to the bridge in Oshawa for as many repatriations as possible. “Each one deserves the respect.”
More than 80 people gathered on the Albert Street bridge over Hwy. 401 in Oshawa to pay their respects as the procession made its way through Durham Region just after 3:30 p.m. on June 28, following a ceremony at CFB Trenton.
Oshawa resident Andrew Voisard says every headline announcing the death of a Canadian soldier is like “a punch in the gut” for him, because his best friend was recently deployed to Afghanistan.
He breathes a sigh of relief each time he learns his friend is OK, but can’t imagine the loss friends and families of the dead soldiers are grappling with.
“I think what it would be like for my buddy’s parents and his girlfriend, if it was him down there,” Mr. Voisard said, gesturing to the highway. “It’s the least people can do to come out here and show some support for the families going through this.”
Ethan Bignell, 7, is barely tall enough to see over the bridge railing but didn’t let that stop him from waiting, Canadian flag in hand, for the procession to pass.
“I want to pay my respects,” he said.
His mom, Brooke Pearson, said Ethan wants to join the army when he grows up, and often visits the regiment in downtown Oshawa.
“The military is one big family and I consider him (Miller) a brother,” said Oshawa resident Bob McMurtry, who served in the air force for 22 years. “It is important for people to see this and understand why they serve. I remember when the Buffalo was shot down in Egypt. It was the largest loss of life for a Canadian United Nations force up to that time. There wasn’t a ceremony for them, only the family knew about it. This is why it’s so important to show our support, for all of those who died.”
Master Corporal Giesebrecht was serving her second tour of duty in Afghanistan. She was a member of 1st Canadian Field Hospital, based at CFB Petawawa. Private Miller was a member of 2nd Field Ambulance, also based at CFB Petawawa, and was on his first overseas deployment.
The Queen joined Canadians on Tuesday in expressing condolences over the deaths last week of two Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.
In a private message to their commanding officers, the Queen, who is on a visit to Canada, asked that her condolences be conveyed to their families.
The bodies of Master Cpl. Kristal Giesebrecht and Pte. Andrew Miller arrived at CFB Trenton, Ont., aboard a military plane, before their caskets were taken along the “Highway of Heroes” to Toronto.
Giesebrecht, 34, and Miller, 21, died Saturday when a roadside bomb exploded near Kandahar City.
Their deaths brought to 150 the number of Canadian soldiers killed on the Afghan mission since its start in 2002.
The two medical technicians were serving with the Task Force Kandahar Health Services Unit.
As has become customary, scores of people lined overpasses over Highway 401 to show their support for the soldiers.
Also parked an overpass was a bright CP Rail locomotive adorned with Maple Leafs.
Railway workers stood nearby, with a sign saying “We Support Our Troops.”
The procession route also included the newly dubbed “Route of Heroes” through Toronto to the coroner’s office.
Ottawa -In response to the tragic news yesterday about the deaths of Mcpl Kristal Giesebrecht and Pte Andrew Miller, His Excellency Jawed Ludin, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Canada, made the following statement:
“It is with incredible sadness that I heard of Mcpl. Kristal Giesebrecht and of Pte. Andrew Miller’s deaths on Saturday”. Both soldiers were medical technicians and were responding to an incident 20 kilometres from Kandahar when their convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device.
“In this time of great mourning, I would like to give my deepest of sympathies and regrets to the families of Master Corporal Kristal Giesebrecht and Private Andrew Miller for the great losses they have incurred. I truly am sorry. Please remember that your son and daughter, and the ultimate sacrifice they paid, will not be forgotten by Afghans. Through their actions I am convinced a better and more prosperous Afghanistan will be built.”
Sunday's annual decoration service hosted by the Wallaceburg Royal Canadian Legion branch 18 at the Riverview Cemetery took on a greater significance.
The ceremony, which honours the sacrifices of veterans in various wars and peacekeeping missions, remembered Wallaceburg-born Kristal Giesebrecht who died the day before in Afghanistan.
A master corporal in the Canadian forces ,the 34-year-old Giesebrecht was killed Saturday along with fellow medic Pte. Andrew Miller, 21, after their armoured vehicle detonated an improvised explosive device 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Giesebrecht, whose maiden name was Brant, leaves behind husband Matt and stepson Jonathan.
Sudbury honours its fallen son, Pte. Andrew Miller Master Cpl. Amanda Barrette and Cpl. Austin Ackerland of the 2912 Sudbury Irish Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps salute as the hearse carrying the remains of Pte. Andrew Miller makes its way across the Bridge of Nations on Thursday afternoon. Miller's funeral is scheduled for Saturday.
Intersections along Paris Street went silent as the body of fallen Sudbury soldier Private Andrew Miller made its way through the city around 6 p.m. July 1.
Members of the Greater Sudbury Police Service (GSPS) and Ontario Provincial Police provided escort along Paris Street to the Jackson and Barnard Funeral Home.
Dozens of people lined the route along the Bridge of Nations as well as at the corner of Brady and Paris Streets, waving the nation's flag as well as yellow ribbon flags.............
The community gathered on Saturday to remember Private Andrew Miller, a Sudbury medic who lost his life serving on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Among the family and friends filling the lower hall of the Glad Tidings Tabernacle, were countless men and women in uniform, from Sudbury's police and fire services, as well as those serving in the various branches of the military.
The 21-year-old was serving in Afghanistan as a combat medic when he and fellow medic Master Corporal Kristal Giesebrecht, 34, of Wallaceburg, were killed by an improvised explosive device June 26.
Miller was following in his father's footsteps and joined the military at 17. His father, a sergeant with the Greater Sudbury Police Service, was part of Sudbury's contribution to Canadian policing in Afghanistan.
“I never imagined this day would come,” Raymond Ealdama said in his eulogy for his son. “Andrew loved his country, he loved this community, and he loved the men and women with whom he trained and fought.”
Ealdama explained he had a unique understanding of what his son was headed for when he was deployed to Afghanistan, “but nothing would deter our boy from joining his comrades... He knew the risks, was aware of the danger, but he still chose to deploy.”
Overcome with emotion with his wife's arm wrapped tightly around his waist at the podium, Ealdama painted the picture of a brave young man who died doing what he loved.
“Andrew, my son, we will all sleep more peacefully tonight because of you and all your fallen comrades. Your sacrifice was not made in vain.
“Tonight Heaven is better protected because of you,” he continued. “We love you. Welcome home Boy.”
Retired Staff Sergeant Dave Bedard, who spent time in Afghanistan as part of the Greater Sudbury Police Service deployment, had an opportunity to interact with the young soldier while he was serving in Afghanistan.
In helping the mourners deal with their sorrow, Bedard helped them remember what made Miller the person he was. Bedard told stories that brought laughter to a room filled with anguish, and smiles to faces streaked with tears. He reminded the mourners of a young man who lightened any situation, a friend who loved to cook, and a soldier who died helping to make the world a safer place.
“Andrew left us too early,” Bedard said. “But we're not going to forget him.”
Images of Private Andrew "Caillou" Miller flickered across the front of the Glad Tidings Tabernacle as music —a mixture of country, rock ballads and even heavy metal— played.
There was Miller in his cub scout uniform, kissing his soul-mate Staci Jessup very enthusiastically, firing a shot gun on a fall day in his black and red lumber jacket, having a beer with friends while making faces, and hanging out with his family.
There was more "rough and tumble" in Miller than perhaps in other soldiers, said Dr. Ray Wiss, a family friend and captain who had served in Afghanistan. It was hard for the 21-year-old to fit into garrison life where proper behaviour and following orders to the letter were given high priority. However, in the field was a different story. That's where he wanted to be, no demanded to be, and that's where he excelled.
While serving in Afghanistan, Miller grew to become a "superior medic." This is high praise, explained Wiss, as the medics he encountered were as skilled as emergency room physicians in treating wounds in the field.
Miller, who joined at the age of 17, was serving as a medic with 2 Field Ambulance when he was killed on June 26, by an improvised device in the district of Panjwayi , Kandahar Province.
The funeral service celebrating his life on Saturday did just that. There were military rituals involving bagpipes, the precise folding of the flag draping his coffin, the playing of Taps on the trumpet and a gun salute. Greater Sudbury Police and firefighters, as well as police from North Bay marched in his honour and a contingent from 2 Field Ambulance travelled from Petawawa to salute him at the Sudbury service.
Prior to it starting, citizens lined the roadway where the funeral cortege passed and fire trucks held up a two-storey high Canadian flag for the limousines to pass under on Regent Street.
But the service itself was very personal, with many, including his Mom Wendy Miller and Dad Raymond Ealdama, taking the podium to talk not only about his commitment to the mission, to helping the Afghan people and willingness to give even the "shirt off his back" for others but Andrew the person.
Many speakers pointed to his father Ealdama who came into Andrew's life when he was seven, as shaping his desire to become a soldier. Ealdama served in Afghanistan in 2008 as part of the Greater Sudbury Police Service's contribution on the to the Canadian Civilian Police training contingent in Kandahar City.
Family friend David Bedard, a retired staff sergeant with Greater Sudbury Police who served with Ealdama, said growing up Andrew provided many clues as to chosen career.
"While most children spent a lot of time and angst trying to figure out where they want to go, it became apparent to Andrew at a very early age," said Bedard. "At age seven he had his room decorated in camouflage netting. In my trade we would call that a clue. By age nine he had recruitment posters for the Canadian Armed Forces plastered all over his walls."
Around that age, he also started creating his own first aid kits.
"This was discovered accidently when Wendy found him raiding her feminine hygiene products because they were good to stop the bleeding."
Andrew loved to cook and was known for his buttered chicken and stir-fry.
Each year, he would help his mother Wendy Miller and aunt Marita Kennedy with the Christmas baking.
"One particular year, he was more interested in eating he cookie dough than he was in making the cookies," said Bedard. "Aunt Marita, who I suspect could have had a career as a police officer had she chosen, hit Andrew over the head with the rolling pin and said: 'Stop it we're making memories.'"
Over the years, this expression "we're making memories" became an "Andrewism," said Bedard.
Besides cooking, Andrew also became adept at sewing tactical webbing, gear, and pouches. He learned this skill from his dad.
When Andrew came home from leave, it was important to Wendy that he spend time with his siblings. One time, she asked him to give his brother Justin a ride somewhere.
"Justin was 15. On the way back, Andrew thought it would be a great idea for Justin to drive," said Bedard. "He let Justin get behind the wheel. His final instruction was 'I want you to drive as fast as you can.' And this was a guy who bought himself a truck, he was very, very proud of."
The bond between Andrew and his mom was very strong but so too was the respect for his father.
"He was a typical kid in that he protected his mom pretty well when they were alone and then immediately started competing with the man she fell in love with when he realized he couldn't get rid of him," said Bedard. "Wendy described him as having an old soul as a child. I would suspect him of having an young soul as an adult."
Full story in Monday's paper
CFB PETAWAWA -Petawawa wept for one of its own daughters on Tuesday.
Master Corporal Kristal Lee-Anne Giesebrecht, of 1 Canadian Field Hospital, wife of Petawawa's Matthew Giesebrecht, was remembered in a life celebration service held at the City of London building at base Petawawa.
Several hundred members of the military and the community gathered to remember a woman "...diminutive of stature, but extraordinary in character."
As a medical technician, Master Cpl. Giesebrecht was all about saving lives, yet her own was taken when the vehicle she was travelling in struck an improvised explosive device (IED) in the Panjwayi District of Afghanistan just over one week ago. She was an eight-year veteran of the Canadian Forces.
Mr. Giesebrecht and his son Jonathan, along with other members of Master Cpl. Giesebrecht's family, followed her flag draped casket into the building for the ceremony. Following the laying of a wreath by Mr. Giesebrecht, the singing of O Canada, and the reading of scripture, the tributes to Master Cpl. Giesebrecht began, the most touching of which was delivered by her husband.
He paused before her casket, before climbing to the podium.
"Kristal was such an amazing person," he said. "She was a blessing to everyone, whether you had known her for five minutes or for five years. She had that special something that allows good people to be great."
Mr. Giesebrecht said that his wife had made him the happiest man in the world
You will forever be my one true love, my best friend, my eternal soul mate. You are my hero and your spirit will live on in me forever. I too believe that our souls will meet again and I promise you, you will never be forgotten. Wait for me. I will find you. I love you," he said.
Lightening things up, Mr. Giesebrecht said that 'Kristal' loved to party, being the one to eventually call for shooters, then managing to seemingly out drink men twice her size. Only later did Mr. Giesebrechtdiscover she was using the trick of firing the shooter back over her shoulder.
"She loved bringing people together, especially friends. That's what she did best," Mr. Giesebrecht said.
He added that there was some aboriginal heritage in Master Cpl. Giesebrecht's background. Because of her interest in things medical and helping people, Mr. Giesebrecht would say she could have been a medicine woman. Responding, Kristal would pound her fist into her hand, then spread her arms wide and tease him with a pretend spell saying 'I am a medicine woman.'
Mr. Giesebrecht said some of his wife's favourite things were flipping through photo albums, sitting around a campfire with her family, exploratory walks on a sun soak beach somewhere far, far away, caressing massages, and butterfly kisses first thing in the morning.
"My favourite things; her unforgettable smile, her sparkling eyes, her fun-loving laugh and her always comforting touch, simply telling me that she was there. These gifts were easily enough to overpower me. What I can tell you from the depths of my soul was that it was her undeniable love for me that truly captivated my heart. She was an angel and she completed me in every way.
"She was actually my dream girl, my best friend, my lover, my soul mate, and my strength. Kristal was my everything and take comfort in knowing that I was that for her," he said.
:Medic killed by IED
Lt.-Col. Richard Poirier, the commanding officer of 1 Canadian Field Hospital, stepped to the microphone to pay his tribute.
He described Master Cpl. Giesebrecht as professional, and tenacious and always willing to help but it was her smile he remembered most.
"I can't remember even one day when she wasn't smiling," he stated. "She made a lasting impression and you just wanted to be her friend."
He said she was well respected by her fellow members of the forces and by those in the minor hockey community of Petawawa where she volunteered much of her time.
Tears filled the eyes of Sgt. Annick Duguay as she paid her tribute.
Sgt. Duguay had many words to describe Master Cpl. Giesebrecht including sweet, innocent, and intelligent.
"She was an amazing soldier, a devoted wife, and my best friend. She may have come in a small package but she had one thing bigger than anyone else; her heart," Sgt. Duguay said.
She said her friend had one goal, to make those around her feel special and loved.
As a soldier, she said that Master Cpl. Giesebrecht gave her life for what she believed in.
Stating that it was not fair that her friend's life had been taken, Sgt. Duguay said Master Cpl. Giesebrecht had left for a much bigger mission in Heaven.
"You are missed my more people than you could ever imagine," she said.
In his pastoral reflection, Capt. Daniel Forget, unit chaplain, said in Master Cpl. Giesebrecht's spiritual journey, she had brought healing to the wounded, right to her last breath.
"She died as she lived, a medicine woman," he said.
Burial for Master Cpl. Giesebrecht was held immediately following the service in the Calvin United and First Presbyterian Cemetery on Boundary Road in Pembroke. A reception in her honour followed at the Normandy Officers' Mess at the base.
Master Cpl. Giesebrecht was born in Wallaceburg, Ontario. She graduated from St. Lawrence College receiving her diploma as a medical technician. She married Matthew Giesebrecht, becoming stepmother to Jonathan, on June 16, 2001. On January 10, 2002, she joined the Canadian Forces as a medical technician.
Since then she has spent her military career in Petawawa, working at the Canadian Medical Equipment Depot and at 1 Canadian Field Hospital. She was on her second deployment to Afghanistan. She completed her first tour in 2006.
Anthony Dixon is a Daily Observer reporter