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    Thumbs up "Courage is not fearlessness, courage in knowing your fear"

    The story speaks for itself, but is commisserate with soldiers throughout the world and throughout history.

    Mary Ellen Green Staff writer

    A Victoria Army Reservist from the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s) was pleasantly surprised when he heard that not only would he get a free trip to Ottawa, but he would also meet his Commander-in-Chief and receive one of the country’s highest honours - the Medal of Military Valour.

    Captain Robert Peel, MMV, CD was one of 48 Canadian Forces members to appear before Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, to receive
    Military Valour Decorations and Meritorious Service Decorations in a ceremony at Rideau Hall Friday, Feb 13. Capt Peel was awarded the Medal of Military
    Valour for action in Afghanistan last June.

    “It really is a nice honour,” Capt Peel said. “It’s a bit surreal to be honoured just for doing your job.” Capt Peel’s job when he arrived in Afghanistan was as
    Operations Officer mentor to a training kandak (battalion) of Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers at Camp Shirzai, near the Kandahar Airfield. He helped
    train them on how to use a C7 assault rifle, the NATO standard weapon. The Canadian government donated 2,500 C7 rifles to the ANA last year under a
    Combined Security Transition Command- Afghanistan program which will see the ANA switch to the C7 from their current weapon, the AK 47.

    “I arrived in February and between March and May we must have trained at least 1,000 soldiers,” Capt Peel said. “We basically took the Canadian training
    on the rifle and just moved it over there. We had to simplify it a little bit because most Afghan soldiers are illiterate.”

    There was a one-month gap in the training schedule, so in May Capt Peel was sent to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Wilson in the Zhari district to back
    fill leave for an administration and logistics officer. At FOB Wilson, he teamed up with Capt Jonathan Snyder, an Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team
    (OMLT) mentor and team leader, who often accompanied him on patrol.

    According to Capt Peel, Capt Snyder was always looking for augmentees for combined ANA and OMLT patrols into the lush poppy, grape and marijuana
    fields. They even had the capability to patrol at night. “The training kandak I had been training on the C7 at Camp Shirzai was now the one I was working with in Zhari, so the soldiers already knew me and it made it very easy to walk into,” Capt Peel said.

    Over the first 10 days at FOB Wilson, Capt Peel went out on patrol everyday and said, “We had seen a few armed insurgents around, but had not been in
    any fights throughout those 10 days.”

    At 3 a.m. on June 4, 2008, five Canadian soldiers would leave for an operation alongside 80 ANA soldiers south of ANA strongpoint How-Ze-Madad.
    What seemed to be a normal patrol would quickly turn into a life and death situation.

    Captains Peel and Synder, and Corporals J. Donovan Ball, Cary Baker and Steven Joel Bancarz were out on a patrol led by Capt Snyder alongside a company of ANA soldiers when they were ambushed by militants from multiple directions.

    What happened next earned the five Canadian soldiers national honours, awarded to recognize acts of valour, self sacrifice or devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.

    The citation reads: “Corporals Baker, Ball and Bancarz, and Captains Peel and Snyder were deployed to Afghanistan to serve as mentors to an Afghan company, when they were ambushed by Taliban insurgents on June 4, 2008.
    With little chance of survival, they exposed themselves to great peril and retaliated against the enemy while encouraging the Afghan soldiers to do the
    same. Captain Snyder seized control of the situation and ensured that the Afghan soldiers retrieved their wounded comrades. Corporal Ball led a two man
    team across broken terrain to secure an extraction route that allowed for the execution of a fighting withdrawal by Captain Peel and Corporals Bancarz and
    Baker. Because of their dedication, leadership and valour, many Afghan and Canadian lives were saved.”

    Cpl Ball and Capt Snyder were awarded the Star of Military Valour for their dedication to their job that day. Capt Peel and Cpls Bancarz and Baker received the Medal of Military Valour.

    “Fearlessness will get you killed. You have to be good at what you do and be calm, cool and capable. If you ever become fearless that means you’re going to get yourself or somebody else killed. Courage is not fearlessness, courage in knowing your fear, accepting your fear and doing it anyways. We were scared but we knew we had a job to do,” Capt Peel said. “But when we got back we were like ‘that was pretty crazy’.”

    Capt Peel said June 4, 2008, was a bad day, but it could have been much worse. “Capt Snyder deserves almost all the credit for that day. Throughout the whole thing he was calm, cool, you never heard his voice crack. He was talking to us on the radio, talking to the ANA company commander through an interpreter, passing on information and making everything happen. He never panicked and totally kept a lid on it. And if he’s cool, we’re cool.”

    A few short days later, Capt Jonathan Snyder was killed after falling down a well while on a combined-CF and ANA night patrol. Capt Peel took up his
    post as team leader and spent the remainder of his deployment mentoring a company of ANA soldiers at FOB Wilson.

    “That rattled all of us,” Capt Peel said. “We just lost the guy who had saved our lives just a few days before.”

    The Medal of Military Valour was created Jan. 1, 1993, and is awarded for an act of valour or devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.

    In his civilian occupation Capt. Peel is a sales person at Mountain Equipment Co-op in Victoria. He took leave to serve in Afghanistan from February to
    September 2008.

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    “Fearlessness will get you killed. You have to be good at what you do and be calm, cool and capable. If you ever become fearless that means you’re going to get yourself or somebody else killed. Courage is not fearlessness, courage in knowing your fear, accepting your fear and doing it anyways. We were scared but we knew we had a job to do,” Capt Peel said. “But when we got back we were like ‘that was pretty crazy’.”
    I have always said this about fire fighting as well. Good story

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