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WikiLeaks create doubt about Canadian Deaths.

July 27th, 2010

Late Sept in 2006, I went to a red shirt rally in support of Canadian troops in Toronto. While there, I chanced to observe a man I’ve come to admire, Errol Cushley.

Mr. Cushley, and he deserves the respect of the honorific, is the father of Pte. William Jonathan James Cushley, who died in battle on Sept 3, 2006. Cushley was one of four who died that day, as Canadian soldiers began Operation Medusa in Panjwayi some 30 km west of Kandahar city.
Private Cushley  and Warrant Officer Frank Robert Mellish were killed by a 50 calibre rifle shot by a Taliban insurgent:

“Frank was standing on one side of Sergeant Major Barnes and Will Cushley was standing behind him, behind what — I don’t know what the military calls it but — what we’d call a front-end motor, and the Taliban insurgent or whatever you want to call them popped up out of a building and fired a 50-cal rifle at it and the schrapnel killed both Frank and Will Cushley,” he said. “They weren’t killed by friendly fire. They were taken in enemy fire. It was the beginning of Operation Medusa.”

Back in November 2006 At Home in Hespeler paid homage to Private Cushley, and had his picture in the sidebar to remember the sacrifices being made in Afghanistan. So it was with some shock that this morning I read that the WikiLeaks Afghan War Diary suggested that Private Cushley,  Warrant Officer Mellish as well as Sergeant Shane Stachnik and Warrant Officer Richard Francis Nolan were not killed by the Taliban, but in a friendly fire incident:

the raw intelligence — sometimes just reports made at the time without substantiation — contains a document that refers to a “friendly fire” incident in which soldiers received small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades from a building, returned fire and dropped a guided bomb, heavily damaging the building.

“Casualties 4xCND KIA 4xCDN WIA,” the report says, meaning four Canadians killed in action and four wounded. A few minutes later, wounded had increased to seven Canadians and one Afghan civilian interpreter.

The incident is believed to have occurred the same day, Sept. 3, 2006, as four Canadians were officially reported killed by Taliban insurgents.

Private William Cushley, Sergeant Shane Stachnik, Warrant Officer Richard Francis Nolan and Warrant Officer Frank Robert Mellish were killed as Canadians launched Operation Medusa.

It should be noted that General Rick Hillier denies that claim.

We were certain, based on the enormous number of soldiers and sailors and airmen and air women that we had in that fight, what occurred that day. Of course, this doesn’t make it easier for the families when erroneous reports like this come out and they’re trumpeted.

It should also be noted that neither of the soldiers are named in the report, and a certain amount of assumption is going on in this story. None the less, it’s a disturbing and disappointing story and someone who can be trusted better be investigating the real circumstanced that day. The families deserve no less than to know exactly what happened.


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