“Jess … should have received the highest decoration in this country”

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Push made to recognize a Nipissing veteran with the Canadian Victoria Cross

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Of all the countries that fought in Afghanistan, Canada seems to be the only one not to have awarded its highest decoration for bravery.

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But there is a move by a group of Afghanistan veterans, valor in the presence of the enemy, for the Canadian Victoria Cross to be awarded to a 35-year-old man from Nipissing, Ont., For his actions by defending his comrades and driving back the enemy in an attack nearly 15 years ago.

Pte. Jess Larochelle was seriously injured in the fight – a one-man fight against an attack force of around 20 Taliban fighters – and has been in and out of hospital since that day.

He is currently in hospital, the 12th time he has been there since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared over a year ago, his father, Randy Larochelle, said.

His son received the Star of Military Valor (SMV), Canada’s second highest decoration for his bravery in the face of the enemy.

“Canadians worked with other nations in Afghanistan, and they all received their highest honors,” says Randy.

And looking at quotes from other nations for their awards, “In comparison, Jess should have received this country’s highest decoration as well.”

The Canadian Victoria Cross was instituted in 1993, replacing the Victoria Cross, which is the highest decoration in the Commonwealth. It has never been awarded.

Ninety-eight Canadians have received the CV since its inception almost 170 years ago.

Randy says it is a disservice not only to his son, but to all members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

“Why bother creating it if they never attribute it?” Asks the 21-year-old Canadian military veteran.

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“In my opinion, it’s just a piece of metal until they put a face on it. The troops don’t admire him when he’s in a box. None of us understand why it was not awarded.

On the night of October 14, 2006, Jess Larochelle volunteered to stand alone at an observation post knowing that Taliban fighters were going to strike. His position was studded with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy fire. His machine gun was damaged, and despite his injuries, including a broken back, he fired up to 15 M72 rockets at the attacking enemy, pushing them back while defending the flank of his platoon position.

The next day, he participated in a ramp ceremony in Kandahar where two Canadian soldiers he served with were returned to their country. It was only then that he admitted that he had been seriously injured and the broken back was discovered.

Jess, his father says, joined the military not because of his father’s service, it was more “something he wanted to do.”

The West Ferris High School graduate was with Charles Company, 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment when he visited Afghanistan.

His injuries forced him to quit the army.

“Jess is the kind of person who likes to help people,” her father says. “I know what kind of man he is. He really excelled when it came to the crisis. He did what he had to do to protect others.

The decision to turn Larochelle’s VMS into a VC has the backing of former Chief of the Defense Staff, Retired General Rick Hillier, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Minister of National Defense Harjit Sajjan.

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O’Toole and Sajjan both served in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Randy thinks the governments of the day are sending the wrong message to those in uniform.

“What is our government saying? He asked. “That our troops, what they’ve done, aren’t good enough?” “

Are the standards of recognition with the Victoria Cross too extreme?

The criteria for the Victoria Cross are that it can be awarded for “the most outstanding bravery, a daring or preeminent act of valor or self-sacrifice, or extreme dedication to duty in the presence of the enemy”.

“Canada should do one of two things. We should attribute it or get rid of it, ”says Randy.

And although the Taliban seized Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the coalition of nations, Jess “felt that the reason we were there was right.”

After the Al-Qaida terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, “the world had to react. If no one had done anything, it would have cost us. We have had 20 years without a stroke.

Randy says his son showed off his real stuff that day.

“None of us know what our response will be” in a situation like this, he said.

“In his case, it was ‘I’m going to fight’.”

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