Sgt. Shane Stachnik from 2 Combat Engineer Regiment (September 3, 2006)
Alberta-raised soldier 'not one for fanfare'
Sep. 14, 2006. 02:19 PM
OTTAWA — While memorials around the world remembered the 9-11 terror attacks Monday, a ritual at the National Military Cemetery marked one of the most recent echoes from that five-year-old tragedy.
Family, friends and comrades buried Sgt. Shane Stachnik, a 30-year-old combat engineer killed in Afghanistan on Sept. 3. He was killed while fighting Taliban insurgents in an operation whose roots trace back to the New York and Washington terror attacks.Canada followed the United States into Afghanistan against a Taliban regime that had harboured Al Qaeda terrorist camps and leaders. Stachnik was buried with the now-familiar trappings of a guard of honour, a firing party, muffled drums, a piper and a bugler.
His parents Hank and Avril Stachnik followed their son's flag-draped coffin into the cemetery. Hank Stachnik's head stooped. Stachnik, an Alberta native stationed at Petawawa, Ont., was one of four soldiers killed in Operation Medusa, a drive to push Taliban fighters out of a volatile region west of Kandahar.He was also one of five soldiers from CFB Petawawa killed in a 24-hour period Sept. 3-4. Lt. Jean Johns, a comrade, linked the Sept. 11 dates five years apart, saying both were marked by mourning and grief. He said his fellow soldiers will remember Stachnik as a dedicated, yet fun-loving soldier. "We remember the grin that alluded to the infectious sense of humour that all who were close to him knew," Johns said.
Stachnik lived in Chalk River, just north of Petawawa. Johns said his friends knew him for his love of simpler things like working on his motorcycle and wearing lumberjack jackets. He was also looking forward to marrying his fiancee, Darcy Mitton. The two had yet to set a date for their wedding. They wanted to wait until he returned home from his tour of duty to begin planning their future.Stachnik was a quiet man, Johns said, but the first to diffuse a tense situation with humour. Stachnik never looked for any glory, Johns said. He joined the military out of a desire to help the world.
"Shane lived his life the way many of us dream of — he lived to serve, to give and to love," Johns said. "He was not one for fanfare." Throughout the sombre ceremony, Stachnik's father dabbed tears from his eyes while his wife looked ahead at her son's casket.Stachnik, a member of 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, was due to finish his second tour of duty in Afghanistan in February. He was a veteran of the Canadian Forces, having served in the aftermath of the 1994 Manitoba flood and the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in Sri Lanka.