Sunday October 8, 2006
Relatives and friends of the 40th Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan struggled to give thanks Sunday, and instead gathered in grief over the loss of a loved one.
On Sunday, those that knew and loved trooper Mark Andrew Wilson met in a London, Ont. home still marked by yellow ribbons.
"We put the ribbons up when he left for Afghanistan in August," said Wilson's mother Carolyn.
"We weren't going to take them down until he returned," she added.
The 39-year-old father of two was a trooper with the Petawawa-based Royal Canadian Dragoons, and died of bomb injuries as he rode in a Nyala armoured truck en route to pick up other troops in the Panjwaii district of southern Afghanistan.
He leaves behind wife Dawn and sons Josh, 17, and Ben, 11. Wilson also had a tight-knit family that included 35-year-old twin brothers and a 28-year-old sister.
"He was my caretaker, my biggest big brother," said sister Andrea.He was the kind of guy everybody loved," said brother Sean. "He was the one who was always smiling."
Wilson is described as an outdoor enthusiast who before joining the army at 35 tried his hand at many occupations including a bed and breakfast with his wife. But family say the army was his true calling.
"He said `I can't believe they would pay me to do this,' " said brother Sean. "He absolutely loved it, he said he would have volunteered to do it."
That pride and enthusiasm may help explain Wilson's fairly positive outlook on the Canadian mission in Afghanistan.
"We can definitely make a difference in the lives of many, many people who are in such need of the assistance," he wrote in an online entry during the summer.
Of course there was sorrow for Wilson in Afghanistan also. Last week friends Cpl. Robert Mitchell and another member of the Dragoons were killed in a mortar attack.
"He sounded really upset because his friend had been killed," said Wilson's mother. "I think he sounded really, really frightened.
"He said, `I know we're doing a good job, but it's so horrible, we don't know who our enemy is.'
Similarly, the Wilson family, through their grieving maintains their support for the Canadian armed forces.
"We support the military and I am so proud of (Mark)," said Wilson's dad Carl. "He loved what he was doing, he knew it was dangerous but he was proud. And I am proud because he was."
Josh, Ben and I are still reeling from the news we received regarding Mark’s death. Mark very proudly served his country and died for a cause he believed in. He will be sadly and forever missed by his wife and sons, as well as by his parents, siblings, and extended family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the troops of his regiment, those deployed in Khandahar and at CFB Petawawa. We also send our deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones while serving in Afghanistan.