Vive Le Canada

Reserve members to attend soldier's funeral
Date: Monday, September 12 2005
Topic: Canadian News

Reserve members to attend soldier's funeral

Jason Warick
Saskatchewan News Network

Saturday, September 10, 2005

More than a dozen members of the Thunderchild First Nation are making their way to Texas for the funeral of Robert McCoy, a Saskatchewan man killed in Iraq this week.

"He's always been a part of our lives. We were always proud of him," McCoy's aunt, Bernadine Walkingbear, said on her cellphone as they drove through South Dakota.

"We're going there to thank him for the service he's done. We will help him complete his circle," Walkingbear's husband, Winston, said.

McCoy, 25, was a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen. His mother is American and his father is from Thunderchild, located 250 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.

A veteran of two Iraq tours with the U.S. military, McCoy recently accepted a private contract with Virginia-based security company Triple Canopy, according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times newspaper. McCoy knew his command would be in Iraq, his uncle Bob McCoy told the paper from his home in Refugio, Texas.

"He felt like continuing to battle to improve democracy and freedom there was what he was meant to do," his uncle said. "He said Iraq was great and he was enjoying his time out there."

McCoy and three other contractors were assigned to protect diplomats with the U.S. State department. They were driving by car in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, when a roadside bomb went off, killing all four of them. It was one of two bombings Wednesday in Basra. The other left 15 dead and 21 injured when the bomb went off near a restaurant, officials said in reports.

McCoy was born in Texas and moved to North Battleford at age 12. He also lived in Regina, Thunderchild and the nearby Moosomin First Nation before joining the Canadian military, the Walkingbears said.

He spent a year in the Canadian military before joining the U.S. forces.

He served in the marines and did two tours of duty in Iraq before going back as a private contractor.

Friends and family at Thunderchild are taking the news hard, said the Walkingbears. They've taken comfort in the many messages of support, including those from Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Alphonse Bird and provincial First Nations and Metis Relations Minister Maynard Sonntag.

Some are flying to Texas for the funeral, and others, like the Walkingbears, are making the 4,000-kilometre trip by car.

McCoy's body is en route to Texas from Iraq, via Germany. The funeral will likely be held next week. The Walkingbears' sons and a friend will sing a traditional Cree song at the funeral, which will be a mix of military and First Nations traditions, they said.

"I'm sure this is a difficult time for the family. We offer our condolences," said Dan McTeague, Canadian parliamentary secretary responsible for Canadians abroad.

Canada and many other traditional U.S. allies declined to participate in the highly controversial, American-led invasion.

McTeague said the Canadian government has warned its citizens to stay out of Iraq for the past year. Canada has almost no support services available if Canadians need help in Iraq, he said.

"The situation is dangerous and unpredictable. We ask all Canadians to leave there. We can't stress this enough," he said.

[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on September 12, 2005]

This article comes from Vive Le Canada

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