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Seeking a medal for a navy mom

Stoker

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Some good news


Recognition Mother of victim of submarine fire welcomes change in government
policy

MARY-ELLEN SAUNDERS
TELEGRAPH-JOURNAL

QUISPAMSIS - The mother of the Canadian navy officer who died in a submarine
fire in 2004 received a phone call Thursday she has been waiting to get for
five years.

Lieut. Christopher Saunders of Quispamsis died in a submarine fire in 2004.

Deborah Sullivan learned she will receive the Memorial Cross to honour the
sacrifice made by her son, Lieut. Christopher Saunders, 32, of Quispamsis,
who died on the HMCS Chicoutimi during the submarine's maiden voyage from
Scotland to Halifax.

"I started crying," Sullivan said of the moment when she heard the news.

"I was very relieved and very pleased. It means more to me than I can put
into words. To me, it's a symbol of the sacrifice my son made to the
country. It's a legacy that will be left behind to his family and his
children. It's something they can look back upon with pride."

Since 1919, the Memorial Cross has been awarded to the mothers and widows of
members of Canada's armed forces who have died on active duty.

Until Thursday, Saunders' family did not qualify for the silver medal
because he was not in a "special duty area" at the time of his death.

At the time Saunders died on duty, the Memorial Cross was only awarded to
the families of those who served and died in overseas missions.

On Thursday, the Department of National Defence announced it had made
revisions of the Memorial Cross regulations to include the families of all
service-related deaths that happened after Oct. 6, 2001, regardless of where
they occurred.

"It's a bittersweet end to a long struggle to have these changes made,"
Sullivan said.

Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson cited Sullivan's story, and other
similar stories from across the country, as the reason the government made
the changes.

"I do know the Memorial Cross means so much to these families. The
government is sensitive to these issues and we responded to a real need to
make changes, changes we could argue could have be made a long time ago. And
it will truly mean a lot to these families and this family in particular,"
Thompson said.

"This has nothing to do with parties. It is all about doing the right thing
for the men and women who really deserve our praise and thank-yous every day
for the work they do for Canada."

Sullivan said after her son died, she expected to receive the medal. After a
year, she said she contacted the government and found out she and her son's
widow did not qualify.

"I thought it was unfair because this is a medal given for the service of
these young men and women," Sullivan said. "My son died serving his country,
it may not have been in a war zone, but he died."

Sullivan asked Paul Zed, Saint John MP at the time, for help.

Zed took the issue to the House of Commons in a motion that asked the
government to award the medals to all mother and widows of soldier who died
on active duty regardless of location.

Zed, who is no longer in politics, said the news is wonderful.

"It's just one of those cases as an MP you work on because you believe the
system was wrong and you are always hopeful common sense will prevail," Zed
said.

"I had always hoped people would put partisan politics aside and do the
right thing and clearly the memory of her son is honoured today by this
decision."

Zed said during his fight for this change he brought it up in the House of
Commons several times and had members of all political parties and military
generals tell him they agreed with his position.

"There should not be two different classes of citizens who die, one in the
fevers of war and one in a tragic accident carrying out their duties," Zed
said.

"Obviously the government recognized there shouldn't be two different
classes. "| I'm very excited for Deborah and for her family and for
Christopher's boys, who will know that their father truly is a New Brunswick
and Canadian hero."

Dean Mercer, a best friend of Saunders, said every time he looks at a
picture or thinks about his friend, he misses him.

He said Saunders was an easy-going guy who always had a smile on his face,
was always there if anyone needed anything and who died doing what he loved.

Mercer said the death of his young friend reminds him to live every day with
meaning and to always smile and be positive because that is what Saunders
would have wanted.

"This is fantastic news. The family has gone through a tremendous amount,"
Mercer said.

"This will give them peace of mind. You can never have closure but at least
they will have something to remember him by and know the government and the
military are thinking of him as well."

Sullivan said she thinks her son would be very thankful his family is being
given something that can be left to his children so they can look back and
understand the sacrifice that was made
 

geo

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It's nice to see that this family can get closure.

That having been said, I see a problem with regulations to include the families of all
service-related deaths that happened after Oct. 6, 2001, regardless of where
they occurred...
- That means that the mother of Cpl Bloggins the trucker who died after rolling his 10 ton in Wainwright (due to reckless speed) will qualify for the Memorial cross.
- That means that the wife of MWO Smith the engineer who died of a coronary while doing collective PT with his Squadron will qualify for the Memorial cross.

Will these Memorial cross mothers / wives be miffed if they are passed-by & not invited to be the representative mother in Ottawa on November 11th ?
 

mariomike

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"injury or disease related to military service, regardless of location."

Sounds like the definition for Line of Duty Death. LODD.
Heart and lung failure can be LODD. Also cancer.
Sometimes the definition of what an LODD is, and what it is not, is dependent upon who you ask.
 

Harley Sailor

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geo said:
It's nice to see that this family can get closure.

That having been said, I see a problem with regulations to include the families of all
service-related deaths that happened after Oct. 6, 2001, regardless of where
they occurred...
- That means that the mother of Cpl Bloggins the trucker who died after rolling his 10 ton in Wainwright (due to reckless speed) will qualify for the Memorial cross.
- That means that the wife of MWO Smith the engineer who died of a coronary while doing collective PT with his Squadron will qualify for the Memorial cross.

Will these Memorial cross mothers / wives be miffed if they are passed-by & not invited to be the representative mother in Ottawa on November 11th ?

So, let me get this right ; it's ok that my mother gets a medal when I die from a roll over in Afghanistan, but not if I die from a roll over in Wainwright getting ready to go to Afghanistan.  Interesting.
 

geo

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If you are in Wainright while preparing to go to Afghanistan you are considered to already be there.  If you are part of the camp infrastructure & drive your truck out into the training area (on a task), and you roll your truck..... that's what I have a problem wrapping my mind around.
 

Harley Sailor

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I just have a problem seeing past, either way you rolled a truck by accident.  Why should one mother get a medal and the other not, just because her son got picked to go to a war zone.  I can see if a road side bomb caused the roll over, but that was not Always the case.  Maybe they should be looking at how they died and not so much where.
 

CountDC

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Maybe they could make a slight change such as a different colour ribbon or remove the crown/maple leaves if the death was outside a SDA.

 

Harley Sailor

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CountDC said:
Maybe they could make a slight change such as a different colour ribbon or remove the crown/maple leaves if the death was outside a SDA.

I agree, except you are still talking area.  If you have an accident does it really matter if it was in a SDA or not?  I really do like the two different ribbons idea.
 

CountDC

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Harley Sailor said:
I agree, except you are still talking area.  If you have an accident does it really matter if it was in a SDA or not?  I really do like the two different ribbons idea.

To me no but playing devil I could see some argument for it.  SDA has an inherent higher risk so you could argue that the accident was partially caused by the increased stress  of the higher risk.  Mind you it seems to me that it would be a lot easier to admin based on location instead of what they are doing - 2 criteria to choose from instead of a bunch of possible scenarios.

 
 

Journeyman

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Harley Sailor said:
If you have an accident does it really matter if it was in a SDA or not? 

Yes.

If you believe a commemorative medal is justified for an MSE Op driving his truck into a wall in Wainwright, then why not for some taxi driver in Toronto, or a postal worker who gets run over in Ottawa?

If it's not attributable to a military operation, it's no different than the death of any other person. Sad for the spouse/parent, but not remotely worthy of a medal.

 

CountDC

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Journeyman said:
Yes.

If you believe a commemorative medal is justified for an MSE Op driving his truck into a wall in Wainwright, then why not for some taxi driver in Toronto, or a postal worker who gets run over in Ottawa?

If it's not attributable to a military operation, it's no different than the death of any other person. Sad for the spouse/parent, but not remotely worthy of a medal.

the rule makers and regulations disagree with you - the MSE OPs mother and wife can get the cross and I for one support that ruling - the death was still attributable to military service. I just think there should be some way to distinguish between this case and the lad that gets taken out by a mine in Afghan.
 

Journeyman

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CountDC said:
the rule makers and regulations disagree with you ....
Thank you for expressing the obvious.

However, much like you saying you'd like to see this waste of defence budget now come in multiple colours, I was merely expressing the opinion that I disagreed with it being awarded for any non-operational deaths.
 

Stoker

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Let the government award the medal to whomever. If it provides some small comfort to a family so be it. It doesn't matter that a person gets washed over the side off the coast of Halifax or gets killed by a IED overseas is taking away anything from that person's family or making their sacrifices any less.
 

mariomike

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"award the medals to all mothers and widows of soldiers who died on active duty regardless of location"

"Active Duty" or "Active Service" means on the job full-time.
A member who dropped dead in front of their living room TV would be treated the same as a KIA by this definition.  Presumably they mean "on duty". Even so, that's hardly the same as being KIA in a war.




 

geo

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I just think there should be some way to distinguish between this case and the lad that gets taken out by a mine in Afghan.

Well... there isn't a way to distinguish the difference.
The wife of the driver who killed himself by rolling his truck in Toronto's Spandina trench will get the same silver cross as the mum/wife of the fella who was on the receiving end of an IED.  Both ladies will be on an equal footing when seen by the general public.

Should the Toronto driver's mum be considered for the honour of being silver cross mother on November 11th ?
 

Edward Campbell

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mariomike said:
"award the medals to all mothers and widows of soldiers who died on active duty regardless of location"

"Active Duty" or "Active Service" means on the job full-time.
A member who dropped dead in front of their living room TV would be treated the same as a KIA by this definition.  Presumably they mean "on duty". Even so, that's hardly the same as being KIA in a war.

Back in 1919, when the Memorial Cross was instituted, "Active Duty" meant at war or in operations.

What this situation proves is that 'public opinion' works. We, as a society, have decided that no one should 'suffer' so if this medal or that cross will ease someone's suffering then "let 'em have it." I'm pretty sure that almost all the mothers and widows at least one of the widows who received Memorial Crosses for the sacrifice of a son or husband in battle would have shrugged and said "Oh dear, poor woman, if it will help to lessen her pain then give her a Cross, it doesn't diminish mine."

But it does substantially alter the meaning of the Memorial Cross - so much that I would hope that a new, different Cross memorial token would be instituted for deaths incurred on other than "Active Duty."
 

Ex-Dragoon

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If a medal gives this lady and her family closure then I don't see the problem.
 

geo

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It might give closure .... but the question remains...
Should the trucker's mother be considered for the memorial cross mother at the national war memorial in Ottawa
cause you realise that, if she isn't.... she could complain that she is being discriminated upon.
 

Stoker

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geo said:
It might give closure .... but the question remains...
Should the trucker's mother be considered for the memorial cross mother at the national war memorial in Ottawa
cause you realise that, if she isn't.... she could complain that she is being discriminated upon.

I would say yes, there has been pass annual memorial cross mothers whose Son was killed in a vehicle accident. I assume there is some sort of criteria for picking the annual memorial cross mother, I really can't see someone complaining that she was being discriminated upon.
 
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