Bagpiper Joe McDonald appears on Globe & Mail front page about Canadian soldiers in Kandahar

Canadian soldiers in Kandahar and bagpipers in Canada:  What is the connection?

If you attend Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners, you will recognize Joe McDonald bagpiper.  Did you see him on the front page of Wednesday's Globe & Mail right away.

Section A Front 
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Joe McDonald plays his bagpipes for a lot of weddings.  He has even been flown to Mexico for weddings.  I guess they don't have any bagpipers in Mexico.

On Wednesday's September 10th edition of the Globe & Mail, Joe was playing his pipes for the June 21st wedding of Corporal Ryan Elrick who had lost his legs 2 years before in Afghanistan, when a roadside bomb exploded the light armoured vehicle Elrick was riding in.  The story's main point, is that Sgt. Prescott Shipway, the man responsible for saving Elrick's life on that traumatic day, has now died as victim of a similar “improvised explosive device” or IED.

Over the past few weeks, I have heard radio news stories of the killed Canadian servicemen.  The sound clips begin with the mournful wailing of “Amazing Grace” played by bagpipes.  I personally haven't known anybody killed near Kandahar.  I don't think I can name anybody who has served in Afghanistan.  But through my friend Joe McDonald, I am only two degrees of separation away from knowing somebody who has died in Afghanistan.

I had started writing this blog article, about the friendship that I have shared with Joe McDonald since he started performing at Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinners in 2000.  Together we have performed on national television and radio, and there is even a youtube video of us performing our version of “The Haggis Rap”
 YouTube – Haggis Rap

But now, after reading the article's content about Corporal Elrick and Sgt. Shipway, I am deeply touched by their stories of survival and heroism.

I wish our Canadian Armed Forces men and women in Afghanistan safety, and the power to fulfill their missions objectives and to bring peace to the region.  I pray that they too can return to Canada as Corp. Elrick has, and to live out their friendships with their comrades, as I presently do with my musician friend Joe McDonald.

Please read Christie Blatchford's Globe & Mail article.  Links provided below.

Globe & Mail
Vancouver Edition
Wednesday, Sept 10, 2008
Page 1


Losing he who made their life possible

A soldier reflects on the fallen comrade whose efforts taught him to seize every da

September 10, 2008

They got married on June 21, 2008, two years to the day his legs were blown to bits and he almost died. It was a deliberate choice.

“Reclaiming the day,” is how Corporal Ryan Elrick puts it.

He survived, and ever since has felt the obligation to live fully, completely. He feels it more acutely now. This afternoon, a flag-draped casket carrying 36-year-old Sergeant Prescott Shipway – called “Ship” by most – returns to Canadian Forces Base Trenton.

It was Sgt. Shipway, along with Master Corporal Chuck Prodnick and a couple of other soldiers, who saved his life, not that Cpl. Elrick remembers. But he has pieced together what happened from what those who were there have told him, and he knows.

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