Early last month a reserve unit in Alberta was recognized and awarded for going above and beyond the call of duty when they deployed an unprecedented percentage of unit strength throughout the mission.
On January 9, The Calgary Highlanders received the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Unit Commendation for their outstanding contribution to the Canadian mission in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2011. This is the first and only time the prestigious award has been given to a reserve unit.
“This is a pretty big deal, we’re pretty proud of this,” said Chief Warrant Officer Chris Tucker of the Calgary Highlanders. “But the general thought in the unit is about where we are going next, we’re a very mission-focused unit, that’s our driver and motivation.”
The unit, comprised of 111 personnel, deployed 126 soldiers during the ten-year period. Several members volunteered more than once, equaling a 107 per cent deployment rate, significantly higher than any other reserve unit in the Canadian Army.
The commendation is awarded to any formation, unit or sub-unit of the CAF, or similar organization working with or in conjunction with the CAF, that has performed a deed or activity considered beyond the demand of normal duty.
The reserve unit must have generated at least 20 per cent of their 2011 unit strength between 2001 and 2011 to receive the battle honour. On average, deserving reserve units deployed 30 per cent of their 2011 personnel strength.
General Tom Lawson, the Chief of the Defence Staff presented the award to the Highlanders, telling those in attendance how proud he is of the contributions the CAF made in Afghanistan.
“The Calgary Highlanders represent the best of this contribution, pulling more than their own weight to support the combat mission, they fought with courage and selflessness. The Calgary Highlanders bring pride to the entire military, and I congratulate them on this tremendous honour,” said General Lawson.
The award is comprised of a scroll signed by the CDS, a medallion and pennant, which the unit can fly for one year after receiving the award.
The original certificate and medallion will go on display at The Military Museums in Calgary, and the pennant will hang in the parade square from a newly purchased flag pole.
The Calgary Highlanders is a reserve light infantry battalion based out of Calgary. The unit has a history of service to Canada that spans more than a century. The regiment sent soldiers overseas for both world wars in addition to Afghanistan and has participated in several United Nations peacekeeping missions and NATO missions.
During Afghanistan combat operations, the CAF deployed more than 40,000 members, often more than once, making it the largest deployment of Canadian troops since the Second World War.
Get More! Receive six issues of Canadian Military Family Magazine in your mail box for only $17.95! Click here to subscribe NOW!