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On 27 October 2006, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, announced the awarding of four Canadian-unique military valour decorations to members of the Canadian Forces who have displayed gallantry and devotion to duty in combat. Military valour decorations are national honours awarded to recognize acts of valour, self-sacrifice, or devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy. There are three different decorations, consisting of the Victoria Cross, the Star of Military Valour, and the Medal of Military Valour. The awards were created by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, on 1 January 1993. All may be awarded posthumously.

Victoria Cross

Victoria Cross

Star of Military Valour

Star of Military Valour

Medal of Military Valour

Medal of Military Valour

The Victoria Cross is awarded for the most conspicuous bravery, a daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.

The Star of Military Valour is awarded for distinguished or valiant service in the presence of the enemy.

The Medal of Military Valour is awarded for an act of valour or devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.

In a statement issued the same day, General Rick Hillier, the Chief of the Defence Staff, lauded the four Canadian soldiers so honoured.

“Today is a great, proud and historic day for the Canadian Forces and for Canada. Her Excellency the Governor General, the Commander-in-Chief of Canada, announced earlier today that four Canadian soldiers have been honoured with Military Valour Decorations for heroic and selfless acts in Afghanistan in recent months.

These are among the very highest honours we have to offer for those who show courage in the presence of the enemy. More than that, this is also a first – today is the very first time these awards have been given – the first time the high standard has been met since they were created some 14 years ago.

You need only to read the citations for these soldiers to understand the meaning of true heroism: running across open terrain under heavy enemy fire to give aid to wounded and stranded comrades; clearing burning vehicles from a roadway under fire to allow others to get to safety; taking exceptional and resourceful measures under the worst possible pressure to suppress enemy fire and save the lives of fellow soldiers.

These actions reinforce my personal belief that the men and women of the Canadian Forces are among the best, brightest and bravest this country has to offer. Today all our comrades-in-arms in our military offer their heartfelt congratulations to these exceptional soldiers. 

CDS and soldiers

DND photo LE2006-0552 by Master Corporal Peter Simpson

At the 2006 Calgary Leadership Dinner, 27 October 2006, four Canadian Forces soldiers were introduced by General Rick Hillier, the Chief of the Defence Staff, as true Canadian heroes for their acts of valour during combat operations in Afghanistan. Left to right: Corporal Lamont, Master Corporal Fitzgerald, General Hillier, Sergeant Denine, and Sergeant Tower.

The four honoured soldiers are:

  • Sergeant Patrick Tower, of Victoria, British Columbia – The Star of Military Valour;

  • Sergeant Michael Thomas Victor Denine, of Edmonton, Alberta – The Medal of Military Valour;

  • Master Corporal Collin Ryan Fitzgerald, of Morrisburg, Ontario – The Medal of Military Valour;

  • Private Jason Lamont, of Greenwood, Nova Scotia – The Medal of Military Valour.

Sergeant Tower (1 PPCLI) is recognized for valiant actions taken on August 3, 2006, in the Pashmul region of Afghanistan. Following an enemy strike against an outlying friendly position that resulted in numerous casualties, Sergeant Tower assembled the platoon medic and a third soldier and led them across 150 metres of open terrain, under heavy enemy fire, to render assistance. On learning that the acting platoon commander had perished, Sergeant Tower assumed command and led the successful extraction of the force under continuous small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire. Sergeant Tower’s courage and selfless devotion to duty contributed directly to the survival of the remaining platoon members.

Sergeant Denine deployed with 8 Platoon, C Company, 1 PPCLI during Operation Archer in Afghanistan. On May 17, 2006, while sustaining concentrated rocket-propelled grenade, machine gun and small arms fire, the main cannon and the machine gun on his light armoured vehicle malfunctioned. Under intense enemy fire, he recognized the immediate need to suppress the enemy fire and exited the air sentry hatch to man the pintle-mounted machine gun. Completely exposed to enemy fire, he laid down a high volume of suppressive fire, forcing the enemy to withdraw. Sergeant Denine’s valiant action ensured mission success and likely saved the lives of his crew.

Master Corporal Fitzgerald deployed with 5 Platoon, B Company, 1 PPCLI Battle Group in Afghanistan. He is recognized for outstanding selfless and valiant actions carried out on May 24, 2006, during an ongoing enemy ambush involving intense, accurate enemy fire. Master Corporal Fitzgerald repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire by entering and re-entering a burning platoon vehicle and successfully driving it off the roadway, permitting the remaining vehicles trapped in the enemy zone to break free. Master Corporal Fitzgerald’s courageous and completely selfless actions were instrumental to his platoon’s successful egress and undoubtedly contributed to saving the lives of his fellow platoon members.

Private Lamont deployed with the Health Support Services Company, 1 PPCLI Battle Group during Operation Archer. On July 13, 2006, an element of the reconnaissance platoon came under heavy enemy fire from a compound located in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, and was isolated from the rest of the platoon. During the firefight, another soldier was shot while attempting to withdraw back to the firing line and was unable to continue. Without regard for his personal safety, Private Lamont, under concentrated enemy fire and with no organized suppression by friendly forces, sprinted through open terrain to administer first aid. Private Lamont’s actions demonstrated tremendous courage, selflessness and devotion to duty.

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