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Lieutenant-colonel Simon Mailloux

A story of perseverance and resilience—Simon Mailloux has shown that he is not easily broken. What some would see as a career‑ending injury, Mailloux saw as an opportunity to redefine himself and his place in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Gatineau, Québec

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Afghanistan

Joined

2001

Postings

  • RMC St-Jean
  • Gagetown, NB
  • Valcartier, QC
  • Wainwright, AB
  • Ottawa, ON

Deployments

  • 2007, 2009 Afghanistan
  • 2017 Montreal floods
  • 2017 Ukraine

As a young Quebecois, Simon Mailloux’s desire to join the military and serve his country was amplified by his experience in the Air Cadets. “I loved my time in the Cadets. It made me even more certain that I loved this world and that I wanted to make a career out of it.” That was the beginning of a great adventure filled with many challenges and triumphs.

In July 2001, Mailloux was accepted to the Collège Militaire Royal in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, officially joining the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). After graduation, he joined the Royal 22e Regiment and began training as an infantry officer. As Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan intensified, Mailloux knew he would soon be putting his training to the test: “We felt pressure in our training that we had to be ready, that we would be next.”

At only 22 years old, he became Commander of a paratrooper platoon of 38 soldiers. He was about to face his biggest challenge yet, Afghanistan.

“This was not a battlefield with us and the enemy. Most of the time, they were civilians. Seeing the Taliban was the exception. What was difficult in the beginning was seeing what was normal and what was not.”
Simon Mailloux at the Sperwan Ghar base, in October 2007
Simon Mailloux at the Sperwan Ghar base, in October 2007

In mid-July 2007, the 39 comrades landed on Afghan soil for the first time. The team had to get to the forward operating base through Kandahar. With all the stories they’d heard, the tension on the road was palpable. “This was not a battlefield with us and the enemy. Most of the time, they were civilians. Seeing the Taliban was the exception. What was difficult in the beginning was seeing what was normal and what was not.”

Between ambushes and patrols, seeking the Taliban was not an easy mission to manage. “It was the Three Block War: at one end, you’re giving out stuffed animals; at another, you’re looking for bandits; and at another, it’s all‑out war. It was the Wild West.”

“I aged 15 years all at once. I was forced to grow up through trauma, not experience.”

On 19 August 2007, Simon Longtin, one of the drivers in the platoon commanded by Mailloux, was killed by an improvised explosive device. “I aged 15 years all at once. I was forced to grow up through trauma, not experience.” Nevertheless, the mission had to continue.

In November of that same year, on a dirt road, another explosion hit under Mailloux’s LAV III. The device went right through the hull. “I was on the ground, and I saw my left foot. It was soft, like spaghetti.” The group’s medic (medical technician), the signaller and an interpreter all lost their lives that day. An injured Mailloux received emergency surgery at the forward operating base before being transferred to Germany. He woke up two weeks later, very disoriented, and panicked when he realized that he was missing the end of his leg.

Upon his return to Canada, Mailloux continued treatment in Quebec, and was out of the hospital by Christmas. He spent the next six months in rehabilitation, and received his prosthesis in February 2008.

Unable to perform any physical duties as an infantry officer, he accepted the job as aide‑de‑camp for the Governor General at the time, Michaëlle Jean. While he has many fond memories of this time, he couldn’t help but think about his comrades on the battlefield. As far as he was concerned, his mission wasn’t over. 

Simon Mailloux was co-captain of Team Canada at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto. Photo credit: Soldier On
Simon Mailloux was co-captain of Team Canada at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto. Photo credit: Soldier On

Two years after the accident, and after many physical tests proving he could perform his tasks, Mailloux returned for a nine-month mission in Afghanistan. “…to get back, land that foot, that first prosthetic foot on Kandahar Air Field in November of 2009 which is exactly 24 months later, it was a victory for me.”

With over 20 years of service to our country, Mailloux continues to serve today. He contributed to CAF efforts during the flooding in Montreal, and Ukraine in 2017. He was also appointed co-captain of Team Canada at the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto.

Looking back on his service to date, Mailloux has no regrets. “It made me who I am today.”

As he contemplates the future for his daughter, he has a simple message for all Canadians: “It’s not about glory and medals, you know – just remember us. Je me souviens… that’s the motto of my regiment.”

With courage, loyalty and integrity, Simon Mailloux has left his mark. Discover more stories.


Where they served


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