Mark Anthony Graham, a member of 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian
Statement by the Minister of National
Defence on the death of Private Mark
NR-06.056 - September 5, 2006
OTTAWA – The Honourable Gordon O'Connor,
Minister of National Defence, issued the
following statement today on the death
of Private Mark Anthony Graham, a member
of 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian
Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ontario:
“I would like to express my deepest
condolences to the family and friends of
Private Mark Anthony Graham, who died
while fighting in an ongoing offensive
operation in Afghanistan.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the
family of Private Mark Anthony Graham,
and with his comrades who remain
steadfast in Afghanistan in this ongoing
operation to help the local population
reclaim their homes and be free from the
grip of the Taliban.
Our mission in Afghanistan will continue
to have risks, but we stand firm behind
our serving men and women who are
helping to bring shades of hope to a
country that has known much despair and
Private Graham made the ultimate
sacrifice in the service of his country,
and like all Canadians I am deeply
grateful for that service.”
Pte. Mark Anthony Graham, a member of
1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment,
based in Petawawa, Ont., was killed on
Monday, Sept. 4, about 15 kilometres
west of Kandahar City as Canadian troops
participating in Operation Medusa were
mistakenly strafed by a U.S. warplane.
The remains of Private Mark Anthony
Graham were received during a solemn repatriation ceremony on the
ramp at 8 Wing / Canadian Forces Base Trenton, 6 September 2006.
Private Graham, a member of 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian
Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ontario, was killed on September 4,
2006, as Canadian troops participating in Operation Medusa, 15 km
west of Kandahar City, were mistakenly engaged by an aircraft
supporting ISAF combat operations. Present to pay their respects
were The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada
and Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces, General Rick Hillier,
Chief of the Defence Staff and Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie,
Chief of the Land Staff. Also present was Colonel David Brackett,
United States Air Force.
Sep. 7, 2006. 04:35 PM
harsh brutality of war came home to Hamilton yesterday
when a former Olympic athlete from the west Mountain was
killed by fire from a U.S. warplane in Afghanistan.
Private Mark Anthony
Graham, 33, of the Royal Canadian Regiment, is the first
Hamilton native to die in the ongoing war against
Taliban insurgents. The U.S. A-10 Thunderbolt was one of
two planes providing support to NATO troops in Operation
Graham was remembered as a
imposing and gifted athlete who quickly rose to become a
national-calibre runner. Yesterday, his family gathered
in their small west Mountain bungalow to mourn his
"They're in a fog and just
weeping," said the reverend George Horton, of Stewart
Memorial Church, where Graham's father has been a
long-time parishioner and trustee. "They are still in
Horton spent much of
yesterday consoling the family, including his mother
Linda, a social worker, and father Albert, who works at
Graham was the oldest of
three brothers, one of whom has also now joined the
military. He leaves a young daughter. He was not
Yesterday, the family asked
for privacy as they prepared for the glare of national
publicity to come. "Tonight we are just getting together
as a family and figuring out what needs to be said" said
an aunt, who asked not to be named.
Dan Clark was Graham's
coach throughout his high school athletic career at Sir
Allan MacNab Secondary School. Clark said he, and many
of Graham's friends, while aware he had joined the army
a little over two years ago, did not know he was in
Afghanistan. "Most of us, and I have talked to a few of
his friends and former students, they were surprised
that he had gone over."
Clark remembers Graham as a
natural athlete who impressed from the moment he arrived
in Grade 9. "He was put together, six foot four and 190
pounds and a completely developed individual when he
came and we knew he was something special at that time."
By the time he graduated, he was well on his way to
national-calibre competition. "When he ran at track
meets everybody paid attention, everyone would stop and
watch him" Clark said.
Graham later went on to run
with Canada's 4 x 400 relay team at the 1992 summer
Olympics in Barcelona. After the Olympics, he went to
the University of Nebraska on a track and field
scholarship, and later attended Kent State University in
Ohio. Injuries eventually sidelined his high-level
athletic career, and he returned to Hamilton to help
Clark coach at his old high school.
Clark said Graham decided
to join the army, partly to learn new skills, such as
with computers, and partly because he felt the
disciplined life of the army would be good for him.
"What a treasure we've
lost," said Horton after learning of the tragedy
yesterday. He said the congregation prayed often for
Horton said that Graham had
attended a special service in his honour at the John
Street North church earlier in the summer before
returning to his base in Petawawa. He came in uniform.
"I loved him like a son," he said. "Anyone who knew him
would ... He was so handsome and stately."
Yesterday's news was a
stark reminder to military families of the awful dangers
faced by their children, or brothers and sisters. "We
hear it and you know I guess you just start to pray,"
said Brian Pett of Caledonia, whose son Jonathan is a
reservist and has been in Afghanistan about a month.
"If I were the parents, I
would feel very very bad because it is one thing if you
are killed by the enemy, but it is another thing if you
are killed by the friends."
Tim Fletcher, public
affairs officer with the 31 Canadian Brigade Group,
which counts among its numbers 10 army reservists from
Hamilton in Afghanistan, said the incident, while
tragic, is part of war.
"In a circumstance like
that (friendly fire) when you are working with allies
you have a common mission, when you are engaged in close
action and you are calling for close support, things
like this are inevitable and have happened throughout
"You take every precaution,
but it's war and things happen in war."
Fletcher said the Canadian
forces are like a family, and everyone feels a tragedy
such as this, but he added it doesn't weaken the resolve
to continue Canada's mission. "We are there for a
purpose; we are not going to waver from that purpose,
but it is still tragic."
Ten Hamilton-area army
reservists are serving in Afghanistan, as well as many
more regular soldiers from the area.