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Consideration for the Victoria Cross - Afghanistan

Walt

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Attached is a link to an interesting article regarding the potential to retroactively award the Victoria Cross to members of the Canadian Armed Forces who served in Afghanistan.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/victoria-cross-afghanistan-rick-hillier-1.5796078
 

daftandbarmy

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Walt said:
Attached is a link to an interesting article regarding the potential to retroactively award the Victoria Cross to members of the Canadian Armed Forces who served in Afghanistan.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/victoria-cross-afghanistan-rick-hillier-1.5796078

A couple of other VC citations, for UK recipients in AFG, by way of comparison:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joshua_Leakey#:~:text=In%202015%2C%20Leakey%20was%20awarded,Afghanistan%2C%20on%2022%20August%202013.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryan_Budd#:~:text=He%20was%20the%2020th%20UK,of%20the%20Second%20World%20War.

Given some of the actions they were invovled in, I'm sure that at least one of our SMV recipients would qualify...
 

daftandbarmy

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dapaterson said:
So, to recap: two CDSes who were responsible for H&R during the CAF engagement in Afghanistan who never saw fit to recommend any action for a VC, are now saying that their work was shoddy, and should be revisited?

Oh, you're goooood  :nod:
 

FJAG

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dapaterson said:
So, to recap: two CDSes who were responsible for H&R during the CAF engagement in Afghanistan who never saw fit to recommend any action for a VC, are now saying that their work was shoddy, and should be revisited?

Sigh.  :waiting:
 

Haggis

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dapaterson said:
So, to recap: two CDSes who were responsible for H&R during the CAF engagement in Afghanistan who never saw fit to recommend any action for a VC, are now saying that their work was shoddy, and should be revisited?

There are two factors I would consider in these cases.

First, given the personalities involved in the nomination process (as alluded to, above) were any of these members actually upgraded from SMV to VC nominations at the time? if not, why?  Both the CDS's mentioned in the article were huge on both recognizing the soldiers and creating bling.  Unless more supporting facts came to light or witnesses were to come forward to reinforce the nominations, they would likely stand as is.

Second, The clock has run out.  However, our leaders could follow the US lead in the example of SFC Alwyn Cashe.  SFC Cashe was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and the US Senate passed a Bill in September waiving the five-year time limit for Medal of Honor awards.
 

The Bread Guy

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dapaterson said:
So, to recap: two CDSes who were responsible for H&R during the CAF engagement in Afghanistan who never saw fit to recommend any action for a VC, are now saying that their work was shoddy, and should be revisited?
So young to be so cynical ...  ;D
 

tomahawk6

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I can see how military leaders don't want to devalue the VC, its the same in the US. Personally I think every soldier killed in action deserves their nation's highest honor. The honor won't BRING BACK their loved one but it signifies to the nation that the loss was a sacrifice of the life of the fallen and a loss for a family. So award the nation's highest honor to those that have sacrificed their all, cannot their country reciprocate ?
 

dimsum

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tomahawk6 said:
I can see how military leaders don't want to devalue the VC, its the same in the US. Personally I think every soldier killed in action deserves their nation's highest honor. The honor won't BRING BACK their loved one but it signifies to the nation that the loss was a sacrifice of the life of the fallen and a loss for a family. So award the nation's highest honor to those that have sacrificed their all, cannot their country reciprocate ?

The UK and Australia have awarded VCs to living members in the last 20 years.  While most of the actions that get awarded VCs end up being posthumous, that's not a requirement.
 

brihard

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tomahawk6 said:
I can see how military leaders don't want to devalue the VC, its the same in the US. Personally I think every soldier killed in action deserves their nation's highest honor. The honor won't BRING BACK their loved one but it signifies to the nation that the loss was a sacrifice of the life of the fallen and a loss for a family. So award the nation's highest honor to those that have sacrificed their all, cannot their country reciprocate ?

We have a medal for being wounded/killed in action. The VC is very specifically for valour. That's not to take away form the sacrifice of those we've lost, but there's a distinction between having the awful luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and those who specifically act in a valorous manner in the face of a known, immediate danger.

Canada has a federal honours system- civilian or military, nearly all medals (minus a few issues by provinces or municipalities) are under one common system with a common order of precedence. The Victoria Cross is at the absolute top of the order of precedence for the Canadian honours system.
 

MilEME09

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Brihard said:
We have a medal for being wounded/killed in action. The VC is very specifically for valour. That's not to take away form the sacrifice of those we've lost, but there's a distinction between having the awful luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and those who specifically act in a valorous manner in the face of a known, immediate danger.

Canada has a federal honours system- civilian or military, nearly all medals (minus a few issues by provinces or municipalities) are under one common system with a common order of precedence. The Victoria Cross is at the absolute top of the order of precedence for the Canadian honours system.

Now I have heard atleast in the UK, VC recipients are to be saluted, due to this you will never see someone with a VC on parade for obvious kinks in the traditional format of a parade.

Anyone know if that is the case here?

 

Michael OLeary

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MilEME09 said:
Now I have heard atleast in the UK, VC recipients are to be saluted, due to this you will never see someone with a VC on parade for obvious kinks in the traditional format of a parade.

Anyone know if that is the case here?

https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/medals/victoria-cross

There is a widespread though erroneous belief that it is statutory for "all ranks to salute a bearer of the Victoria Cross".

There is no official requirement that appears in the official Warrant of the VC, nor in Queen's Regulations and Orders, but tradition dictates that this occurs and as such the Chiefs of Staff will salute a Private awarded a VC or GC.

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/1944-01-25/debates/4b8d9a02-53a7-45b1-afaa-0395ff915a5c/VcRecipients(Salutes)

Vc Recipients (Salutes)

25 January 1944  Volume 396

Mr. Reakes

asked the Secretary of State for War if, in view of the fact that the Congressional Medal of Honour, America's highest military award, carries with it the tribute that the highest officers of the American Army, even four-star generals, shall salute the recipient although he is only a private, he will alter the Orders so that the winners of the Victoria Cross shall receive the same tribute from high ranking officers of the British Army.

Sir J. Grigg

I understand that the hon. Member is misinformed about the tribute paid to holders of the Congressional Medal of Honour.
 

dimsum

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MilEME09 said:
Now I have heard atleast in the UK, VC recipients are to be saluted, due to this you will never see someone with a VC on parade for obvious kinks in the traditional format of a parade.

Anyone know if that is the case here?

Maybe?  But one assumes that the person is presented the VC on a parade of some sort, so they'd be on parade...
 

Edward Campbell

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Just to note that Canada did not award any VCs in Korea, either. Apparently, as in Afghanistan, there were no individual actions of the "most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour, self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy."

Only 16 were awarded in the Second World War, although Canada had about 1 million men and women in uniform, while 73 were awarded in the First World War when we had a much smaller force and five were awarded during the South African War which might be considered comparable to Afghanistan in many respects ~ a smallish special force operating, far away, as part of an allied force.  :dunno:



 

daftandbarmy

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E.R. Campbell said:
Just to note that Canada did not award any VCs in Korea, either. Apparently, as in Afghanistan, there were no individual actions of the "most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour, self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy."

Only 16 were awarded in the Second World War, although Canada had about 1 million men and women in uniform, while 73 were awarded in the First World War when we had a much smaller force and five were awarded during the South African War which might be considered comparable to Afghanistan in many respects ~ a smallish special force operating, far away, as part of an allied force.  :dunno:

My Dad, a WW2 vet, was fond of noting that for a Canadian to be awarded a VC once 'they would have to earn it twice'. :)
 

Walt

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daftandbarmy said:
My Dad, a WW2 vet, was fond of noting that for a Canadian to be awarded a VC once 'they would have to earn it twice'. :)

Sadly, we apparently now have to think twice about once awarding a VC to a Canadian. Shameful.
 

GK .Dundas

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Walt said:
Sadly, we apparently now have to think twice about once awarding a VC to a Canadian. Shameful.
A few years ago I came to the conclusion that if a Canadian soldier managed to quite literally save the World.
If the soldier was really,really lucky,the chain of command might just be willing to settle for probation and maybe community service.
 

PuckChaser

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It's absolutely appalling that we did not have a VC awarded for Afghanistan. The cynic in me says it was political untenable that we award a Victoria Cross to downplay the conflict as "not a war". A quick search of the folks who earned a SMV, these citations popped out at me:

https://www.gg.ca/en/honours/recipients/142-69
https://www.gg.ca/en/honours/recipients/142-13
https://www.gg.ca/en/honours/recipients/142-4

Easily one of those 3 individuals could have won a Victoria Cross and no one would have batted an eye, truly extraordinary.
 

MJP

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PuckChaser said:
It's absolutely appalling that we did not have a VC awarded for Afghanistan. The cynic in me says it was political untenable that we award a Victoria Cross to downplay the conflict as "not a war". A quick search of the folks who earned a SMV, these citations popped out at me:

https://www.gg.ca/en/honours/recipients/142-69
https://www.gg.ca/en/honours/recipients/142-13
https://www.gg.ca/en/honours/recipients/142-4

Easily one of those 3 individuals could have won a Victoria Cross and no one would have batted an eye, truly extraordinary.
I tried not to get sucked into the internal debate one's actions vs another and if it was worthy of a VC or not as I find them personally distasteful. That said I was present for one of those actions* and know there are member(s) of esteemed forum that participated post tour honour committees to ensure all pers were covered. 

Knowing the details beyond a 80 word citation in one situation makes me personally believe we got it right the first time. I could be wrong but if it was truly deserved then why didn't those advocating for it now make it happen considering they had the power to make it so then?

*I am bias and realize that by the very fact that I focused on my own actions and those of the folks I was in charge of, not at times the larger battle. If anything the fact my (and others) observations at the time were slightly different affirm that eye witnesses are not super reliable and subject to any number of well known issues that can affect their recollection.
 

Old Sweat

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A few observations after following this thread. First, to be awarded a decoration, one has to be recommended. Trite, but true. In my young officer days a long time ago, a common belief was that Canadian senior officers tended to not submit many recommendations for awards, citing as their reason that the soldier was just doing his job. That did not mean that, at the same time, they refused to accept any decorations they were awarded.

A friend, a professional military historian with a PhD, once told me that the criteria established for the Canadian VC were so stringent that it was unlikely that anyone could meet them.

And as for previous wars, there was one recommendation from Korea that I am aware of, to a stretcher bearer in, I think, 2 RCR, but it was downgraded somewhere in the chain above brigade. I once did a study of the Boer War VCs. About half of the awards were for rescuing a comrade under fire. This would include the VC to Sergeant Richardson of the Strathconas. Last, Donald Graves's history of the South Alberta Regiment recounts how the CO read the citations for the first VCs in NWE and realized that Major David Currie's action at St-Lambert-sur-Dives was at least as noteworthy. However, he had only been recommended for a DSO. The CO talked to the Divisional Commander, who was able to intercept the recommendation before it was forwarded further, and supported its upgrade to a VC. See my first comment about the requirement to be recommended first before one could receive an award.*

* Re South Africa, the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry was the only Canadian unit to not have a non-commissioned member receive a gallantry award, either a VC or a DCM. The Queen's Scarf to Private Thompson does nor really count as it was not a gazetted decoration. Contrary to popular lore, Thompson had not been recommended for a VC once, let alone twice. After the war, a recommendation for a VC for him was submitted, but the deadline for recommendations had passed.
 
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