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Soldiers injured in suicide bombing get ‘wound stripes‘ to mark sacrifice


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KABUL (CP) - Two Canadian soldiers emerged Wednesday from their hospital stay at Camp Julien to eat barbecued steak with company mates and receive "wound stripes" in recognition of injuries suffered in the line of duty.

Cpl. Jeremy MacDonald and Cpl. Richard Newman appeared fit and upbeat as they stood in line for their steak-and-shrimp lunch eight days after they were struck by shrapnel in a suicide bomb attack that killed a comrade. Newman said he was proud to receive his stripe, a narrow gold braid worn on the left forearm of the dress uniform recognizing injuries suffered at the hands of hostile forces.

"It just proves I survived something," Newman said as he walked back to his table with his second helping of food.

"I do appreciate it, very much. It was a good surprise. I didn‘t know anything about a wound stripe but then somebody mentioned it to me the other day."

The bombing last week killed Cpl. Jamie Murphy and also injured Lieut. Jason Feyko, who left Afghanistan for treatment of an eye injury. Feyko remains in a hospital in Germany and will receive his stripe when he returns to Canada.

Canadian soldiers conducted daylight patrols in unarmoured vehicles Wednesday, two days after night jeep patrols resumed.

Lt.-Col. Don Denne said it was time to get operations back to normal.

"If we were to wrap ourselves in steel, we would not be doing what we need to do in terms of getting in touch with the population of Kabul," Denne said.

An investigation into the bombing continues. Col. Ali Jan, the head of the police district where the bombing took place, says the attack was the work of foreigners.

"It‘s the first time in 25 years that I‘ve seen a suicide bomber like that here in my country," Jan said recently.

Denne said this is common sentiment among the Afghan leaders he meets.

"Somebody strapping explosives to themselves is not particularly sophisticated, but it is a change of modus operandi," Denne said.

"That kind of a concept is fairly foreign to your typical Afghan. They don‘t believe it is the Muslim way."

Denne, the commanding officer on the ground with the troops at Camp Julien, said he cut through red tape so the soldiers could get their stripes Wednesday before they return to Canada.

"We did it quite quickly to make sure they were properly acknowledged for their potential sacrifice and the fact they were wounded in action," Denne said.

"And their mates wanted to be here with them when they received their wound stripe certificates."

Newman, who still wears a bandage on his neck from a shrapnel wound, said he plans to remain in the army.

"I can‘t let one little incident stop me," Newman said. "I‘ll keep on trucking, keep on going. That‘s all."