|Last year I was in Bosnia for Remembrance Day. In Velika Kladusa (Camp Black Bear) we held a ceremony by the black granite markers that are inscribed with the names of those who were killed during UNPROFOR, IFOR, SFOR and KFOR.
It meant more to me last year. First, to honour those who had come before me (both from a historical sense and recent) and secondly, as an acquaintance was one of those who had been killed while serving.
Sapper Chris Holopina (Coralici was named after him) died in a vehicle accidnet (Bison roled over) in Bosnia during IFOR. I believe they had been responding to a possible mine incident that turned out to be false. Not a "heroic" way to dieing but it has happened to many Canadian soldiers serving in the Balkans.
Sapper Chris Holopina was originally a gunner, prior to joining the Regular Force, out of the 13 Fd Bty, 26 RCA in Portage La Prairie. I remember as a big kid as he was probably only 17 or 18 when I put him through QL2. I seem to recall he was a good worker and well regarded by most of us. He stayed with the unit for a couple of years and served in Cyprus with 1 RCHA in 1992/93. He must have joined the Regular Force in 1995 or so.
Anyway, everytime I went past his memorial on route Bluebird I always thought of him 10 or 11 years previously. Happy and young with his whole life in front of him. It came to an end in a country a kid from a small town in Manitoba had probably never heard of before.
Lest we forget the sacrifices of our fathers and friends.