Cpl. Jamie Murphy (January 27, 2004)
Last goodbye to a local hero
Cpl. Jamie Murphy buried in snowy Nfld. grave
'They sent him off right. Guess they always do'
CONCEPTION HARBOUR, NFLD.The seventh Canadian soldier killed in the war on terror was carried to his final resting place yesterday on the shoulders of eight strong comrades and the prayers of 1,000 friends.
They crossed countries and even oceans to mourn the man whom most knew as "Murph," 26-year-old Cpl. Jamie Brendan Murphy, killed in Kabul Jan. 27 in a suicide attack.One friend flew in from Bosnia. Almost three dozen came from Petawawa.
There was a premier, a former premier, the lieutenant-governor and two MPs.
But dozens, maybe hundreds, of those who gathered at the white clapboard church at the edge of a black bay didn't even know Murphy, drawn there by fears for their own kin and a bittersweet pride in Canada's role in a troubled part of the world.Reg Gulliver has a son in the navy and wanted to honour the men and women in uniform who regularly risk their lives.
He stood outside St. Anne's Church for more than an hour, stamping his feet in the minus-8C cold, just so he could say a private goodbye to a young man he never knew."They sent him off right," Gulliver said after Murphy's casket, draped in a Canadian flag and topped with his cap, scabbard and wreath, was carried out of the church on the shoulders of eight men wearing the bright red uniforms of Murphy's Royal Canadian Regiment.
"They sent him off right. Guess they always do.""Today we said goodbye to our hero, Cpl. Jamie Murphy, with great honour and dignity," Maj.-Gen. Terry Murphy said after the ceremony, thanking "all Canadians for their support."
Murphy was the seventh soldier to die in Afghanistan since the government committed troops to the war on terror. His mother denounced the mission in Afghanistan shortly after his death, calling on Ottawa to bring the troops home.But there was no politics here yesterday, only sorrow and remembered joy as siblings and friends called forth the memory of the boy who, as they say here, "grew up on the bay."
His family asked for a full military funeral and that's what they got, with an honour guard and escort, a bagpipe playing "Amazing Grace" and three volleys over Murphy's snowy grave from a 14-man firing party.People began arriving hours before the funeral, with cars parked several kilometres away. By one o'clock, RCMP had closed the main road into town and both the church, which seats 400 people, and a nearby community hall that seats another 250, were full.
The family, who wanted to grieve unobserved, asked media to remain outside.After the service, the long road to the cemetery was clogged with hundreds of people trudging up the snowy hill to join the very last goodbye.
Murphy's death has sparked a familiar heartache in Newfoundland, and familiar fear.This province has long sent a larger share of its men and now women to war than any other part of the country.
In towns with little money and fewer jobs, the armed forces are an important route to an education, a steady income, a future.Too many times, that has meant tragedy as well.
Murphy grew up with that legacy, had a daily reminder of the tradition and tragedy of Newfoundlanders in arms. In a knoll beside Roncalli High School, where he first met army recruiters, is a small granite memorial to neighbours who fought in World Wars I and II. Seventy-one names are engraved on the stone, 13 marked by a cross killed in action.Murphy was a seasoned soldier before he arrived in Afghanistan as part of the Parachute Company 3rd Battalion Group.
He joined the army in 1997 after high school, and was posted to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment.
Murphy was killed just five days before he was scheduled to return home to Canada. His family had planned to meet
him in Ontario to help him move into a new home that he built with his partner, Candace McCauley.