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The Loss of a Comrade

Heroes Remember

The Loss of a Comrade

Jason was not part of our original PSYOPS team. It was us prairie boys from out west that had gone on course in Montreal and we were the westerners. We were the first western crew to take PSYOPS. PSYOPS was a new thing, trained in England with English instructors trained our guys that instructed us and so we wanted to, you know, our team was western. During the workup training they realized that we needed more support on the ground so they provided us with an additional person. That person came from the Royal Highland Regiment, the Black Watch of Canada and his name was Jason Warren, he was a corporal there and Jason came to join us at that time. So we were well into our training and he was sort of the outsider and he showed up in Edmonton and, you know, we invited him to our houses for Christmas. We made sure he was there because he was stuck in the barracks. We invited him out to a lot of stuff with us and we got to know Jason really well. He had a super smile. He’d love, when we were on patrol he’d love to talk to the kids and he would speak in, we were learning a bit of Pashtun and he would speak to them in their own language with our atrocious Canadian accents of course and we would make the locals laugh and that would open a lot of doors for us as part of our PSYOPS gig. We were to engage and talk to people so Jason was a really good ice breaker. He would roll up his sleeve and show his tattoos and the kids would be all over that to come and see this art because it was something they had really not seen too much of. As the mission progressed, we were getting near the end of our time there. It was July, we were doing inventory on all of our PSYOPS equipment and propaganda material because we had to make sure we had sufficient stocks for operations of paperwork and pamphlets and leaflets and videos and the whole nine yards. We did radio broadcasts with the radio station right in Kandahar. We broadcast messages to the locals on the local radio nets and through the BBC and different things like that and so we were always making this stuff. And Jason was really good with the PSYOPS stuff. He had been doing a lot of extra work with the PSYOPS units so he was often our go between, between the command element and the battle group, reference PSYOPS products and testing those things in the local market and making sure they were effective. So the battle group command operations centre, they say hey are you able to go and assist and so I volunteered our team because we were doing inventory but it was not critical mission stuff. Getting supplies to our guys out in Helmand was mission essential. So I said okay let’s do this convoy and unfortunately that was the 22nd of July on the way back from Helmand a suicide bomber in a van detonated his van and the guys afterwards, the explosive guys thought he had used about 7 to 10, 122 mm rockets so giant rockets. It was enough to knock the LAV upside down in the ditch and killed the driver, Corporal Frank Gomez from the Strathcona’s. It injured Captain Ross, Tony Ross who was commanding the vehicle at the time and everybody in the back of the vehicle was injured. Unfortunately Jason was also killed. He was standing up in the family hatch, the big open hatch in the back at the time as he was acting as a sentry to keep vehicles from getting too close. A chopper came and got the casualties out and treated and unfortunately Jason didn’t make it home. What makes the story really hit home for me is the night before we went on that convoy Jason knocked on the door of my room in Kandahar airfield and asked if he could talk to me. And I asked, “What’s up J?” He said, “Serg, I got a really bad feeling about tomorrow, I don’t want to go!” And I said, “Come one, we’ve been through this ambush, we’ve been through that ambush, we were through this IED, we were through this contact, you know, you and I have been through so much, what’s one more mission, you’re going to be fine!” And he laughed and he said, “Guess I’ll have to use my soldier skills to get me through!” And we both had a chuckle and, you know, looking back on it, did he know? Maybe he did. There was nine days left in theatre before Jason was to rotate home when this thing happened. I wanted to go with Jason home but they said you need to be here for your team so I stayed behind and understandably they delegated another sergeant to go with him home and I just felt like that should have been my priority but I was to look after the guys we had left and as a sergeant you look after your troops, you try to get them home and, you know, that’s one of my biggest feelings of guilt that I have and it’s survivor’s guilt and it happens to a lot of Veterans and a lot of people in this situation and I understand the process of it but I tell you it’s heavy. It’s a weight that you feel responsible for. This is my first time back in ten years, today and that hasn’t changed. It’s still very emotional and it’s very heavy. But there’s a lot more stones in front of Jason’s now then there were back in ’06. War changes, the technology of war changes but the way it affects humans hasn’t changed since the first war. Hopefully we will stop having it soon.

Mr. McCue shares a very personal and emotional story of the circumstances that caused the death of his fellow comrade.

Robert McCue

Mr. Robert McCue was born August 22, 1972 in the city of Edmonton, Alberta. During his youth, he joined the air cadets and contributes this as a turning point towards a military career. Joining the Reserves, Mr. McCue became a part of the South Alberta Lighthorse Unit formerly known as the South Alberta Regiment. He accepted a deployment to Bosnia in 2003 as an infantry section commander, holding rank of sergeant. Later, he accepted a position with a newly developed unit, PSYOPS and deployed to Afghanistan in 2006. During this time Mr. McCue worked for Canada Post. Having a strong interest in military history and respecting the contributions made by his grandfather during WWI, Mr. McCue had the opportunity to travel as part of the delegation to Vimy in celebration of the 100th anniversary, an honour he will cherish for a lifetime. Mr. McCue presently resides in Edmonton, Alberta with his family.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
April 3, 2017
Person Interviewed:
Robert McCue
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI)

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