(Quebec) The emotion invaded the arrivals terminal at the airport in Quebec, Friday night, when a first group of soldiers from the Valcartier military base returned home seven months after leaving for a mission in Ukraine .
The wait was long, especially the last time, for close to sixty men and women who had flown in January to take part in Operation UNIFY.
A delayed flight and longer than expected clearance procedures have only increased the excitement that naturally accompanies these reunions. The applause and cheers were made even stronger when the first representative of the Canadian Forces sprang from the door of the terminal.
While the mission was not technically risky, emotional scenes were numerous. The Rattelle corporal, a member of the 3rd Battalion, Royal 22e Regiment, as the sun crossed to the terminal building, was finally able to see his first child.
“[My wife] was pregnant before the start. First mission, first baby, first house … everything was new. even when we made the decision that I go, “said he told surrounded by his family. Her baby was born in March, slightly less than two months after deployment. “They [the army] have accommodated me for the baby.”
Mr. Rattelle, 32, could spend ten days with his wife and newborn. The child was not two weeks when he had to leave to continue the mission. The relationship is established remotely. “Internet was contacted, we talked every day … I’m glad to be back!” He launched before taking her baby in her arms.
A total of 200 soldiers from Valcartier left the base in late January to go to the Starychi region. A hundred others will come back next week and the remaining forty should gradually return by commercial flights.
UNIFY The operation, conducted by the United States wants a training mission of the Ukrainian army by NATO allies, in the context of the crisis between Ukraine and Russia.
Tensions between the two countries soured after the invasion and annexation of the Crimea by the Russians, there are more than two years. In December 2015, the UN estimated that the fighting between the loyalist army and the pro-Russian Ukrainian civilians, supported by Moscow, had 9,000 victims and half a million displaced.
Canadian, US and British troops are not armed and are as far away from the front located in the far east of Ukraine in the Donbass region. Their role is to increase the operational capacity of the Ukrainian armed forces loyal to Kiev.
Sergeant Yann Gauthier, member of a team that specializes in combat care, admitted Friday that his months in Ukraine represented a challenge in human terms.
“It is absolutely certain that the graduations were emotional. We knew that the minute we shook hands with them for the last time, next time they would hear about first aid in action is when they were going to do treatments on their brothers in weapons directly on the battlefield, “he said. “It picks emotions. It has forged ties [and it is likely that] some of them will be injured. ”
Besides medical care, Canada was to provide expertise on explosives. According to Sergeant Gauthier, Canadian assistance was greatly appreciated by Ukrainians. “This is a conflict that has surprised them,” he said, speaking of an organized army, but had that “very few resources.” “They put so much heart and so much effort they manage to achieve good goals.”
The UNIFY operation should continue at least until 2017. The 200 Valcartier soldiers were gradually replaced by colleagues from the Edmonton base.