Soldier son pays tribute to fallen father Andrew
CFB PETAWAWA, Ont. - Pte. Robert Girouard Jr.'s voice cracked a few
times during Wednesday's eulogy for his personal hero, but it didn't
break. He stood tall at the podium, itself a tribute to his fallen
regimental sergeant major.
''He was an example to his men and peers, and nothing less than in idol
to myself,'' said the 23-year-old member of 1st Battalion, Royal
Canadian Regiment. ''He was over there to keep his family here safe.
Rest in peace Dad, you've earned it.''
father, Chief Warrant Officer Robert Girouard, was killed Nov. 27 when a
suicide bomber attacked his Bison armoured vehicle on a highway near
Kandahar. The popular regimental sergeant major of 1RCR is the
highest-ranked enlisted Canadian serviceman to die in Afghanistan. The
Bison's driver, 36-year-old Cpl. Albert Storm, of Fort Erie, Ont., was
About 1,000 soldiers and civilians attended Girouard's funeral at a
regimental building on the base. The two-hour service highlighted
''Bobby'' as a hopelessly devoted husband, proud father, longtime minor
hockey coach and feared defenceman, and a dedicated and professional
soldier who believed in the Afghan mission.
''He was the glue that kept the battle group motivated and kept morale
high,'' said Maj. Peter Scott of 1RCR. ''He was idolized by all.
Everyone from all ranks looked up to him.''
As 1RCR's appointed regimental sergeant major, Girouard was a sort of
father figure for enlisted soldiers, responsible for overseeing their
well-being and discipline while also forming a close partnership with
commanding officers. His professionalism and personality made him a
beloved figure with both groups at CFB Petawawa. Several troops stood
silently in front of the simple altar of photos and flowers after the
service, wiping away tears while bowed in silent prayer. The deadly
attack occurred during an escort mission to the nearby Panjawaii region
for Lt.-Col. Omer Lavoie, the RCR's commanding officer.
From Afghanistan, Lavoie sent an emotional message about his
''confidante, adviser and friend,'' read aloud during the funeral. He
said the regiment's command posts across southern Afghanistan ''fell
silent'' with grief the morning of Girouard's death. ''He took care of
his soldiers, and died doing it,'' Lavoie wrote. ''They loved and
respected him. He would want us to finish the job, and we will.''
Originally from Bathurst, N.B., Girouard enlisted in 1979. He was
appointed regimental sergeant major in 2005 and arrived in Afghanistan
in August as part of Operation Archer. He previously served in Bosnia,
West Germany and Norway. Girouard is survived by wife Jacqueline and
three children: Robert Jr., daughter Jocelyn, 21, and son Michel, 20 -
also planning a military career as an air force pilot.
Girouard was interred at Beechwood National Military Cemetery in Ottawa.