All around us, there are heros and great people. They could be our next door neighbor or someone we know well.
One of these Canadians is probably well known in his home city, most certainly in the Canadian Military and definitely with his family and friends., B.A. (Hons), CMR (French: College militaire royal du Canada or Royal Military Colllege of Canada) is a current member of the Canadian Armed Forces and the first Canadian soldier to return to Afghanistan as an amputee.
In his studies, he was given an international exchange scholarship from the Canada Corps. With this scholarship, he earned his Bachelor of Military and Strategic Studies from CMR. For 4 months, he performed research on Post-Conflict Security and was involved in peacekeeping staff training plans.
When he graduated in 2006, he was posted to the 3rd Battalion Royal 22nd Regiment in Valcartier, Quebec. Soon after, they were deployed to Afghanistan and he was assigned as platoon commander. On November 16, 2007, in a road side bomb attack, he lost his lower left leg, two companion soldiers, and an interpreter. Two other soldiers were injured in the explosion. They were on a patrol in the western Zhari District, where there had been a number of Taliban insurgents, Captain Mailloux and some the soldiers were trying to create a police checkpoint, when the IED (Improvised Explosive Device) exploded.
He was sent to US Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany to start his recovery. In an interview with “The Maple Leaf”, a military newspaper, he states that he does remember telling his major that he was going to be back in a couple of weeks and he felt guilty that he had to leave the platoon he was commanding. The next few days were a blur.
After he woke up in Germany and was told that he had lost the lower half of his left leg, he had no idea where to go from there. To him, it seemed that nothing was left for him. It wasn’t so much that he had lost his leg, it was the mental part. What to do next?
He went through numerous surgeries and months of difficult rehabilitation and was then back at work in March 2008, in the Governor General’s Foot Guards. A year later, he was promoted to Captain, then in July 2009, it was stipulated that as long as he succeeded in passing the requirements for deployment, he could return to Afghanistan, as he wished.
So, with a prosthetic leg, he did his EXPRES physical and his battle fitness test (15 km walk with gear), he passed and was given the ok to be deployed. He felt that he needed to return to Afghanistan to show others that even if a soldier has been injured, they could still be a functional member of society and especially, be a useful member of the Canadian Forces.
Before deployment, Captain Mailloux was one of 46 people to receive the Sacrifice medal (November 2009), most of the people to receive this medal, receive it after they have been killed or have died in action.
January 2010, he returned to active duty in Afghanistan, as the first Canadian soldier amputee to do so. He is part of a team that is based out of the Kandahar headquarters where they are planning future operations in Afghanistan. The only thing he really regrets is that he is unable to lead a platoon into the field. He says he will really miss that.
He has shown that perseverance is still alive in the world and we all need to remember: What we set our minds to do, we will do, whether it is a tiny first step towards a goal, or whether it is to do nothing to achieve what we seek.
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