Sgt.Léger to be awarded U.S Bronze Star medal
Date: Tuesday, February 25 2003
Topic: Canadian Politics
The U.S. Army has approved awarding the Bronze Star medal to the four Canadians,
including Lancaster, Ont. native Sgt. Marc Léger, killed by a U.S. bomb last
year in Afghanistan, CBC-TVs The National reported Monday.
reported Pentagon officials said the medals were sent to the U.S. Embassy in
Ottawa last month, but Foreign Affairs said it has not been formally contacted.
According to the CBC, the protocol for awarding the medals would see a committee under the Governor General have the final say whether the soldiers would receive the U.S. military honour posthumously.
The Bronze Star is awarded to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the U.S. military distinguished himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service.
The soldiers from the Edmonton-based Princess Patricias Canadian Light Infantry were killed in an April 18, 2002, incident in Afghanistan after being bombed by a U.S. military pilot who thought he was under fire from enemy forces.
Killed in the incident were Léger, and Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer of Montreal, Pte. Nathan Smith of Ostrea Lake, N.S., and Pte. Ricky Green of Mill Cove, N.S.
Eight Canadian soldiers were also wounded in the bombing.
The Canadians were sent to Afghanistan to support U.S. forces ousting Taliban fighters and searching for al-Qaida terrorists.
Last month, a military hearing was held in Louisiana to determine if Maj. Harry Schmidt or Maj. William Umbach, the two pilots charged in the deaths of the Canadians, should face a court martial.
The two pilots said they knew nothing of the Canadian troops using the firing range in Afghanistan.
The pilots also maintain they did not know about any live-fire exercises, even though special documents used to brief the pilots mentioned a site where intermittent firing would be conducted.
Schmidt and Umbach could face up to 64 years in military prison if the case goes to a court martial and they are convicted
Lt.-Col. Patrick Rosenow, the investigating officer, has to consider the 161 exhibits and 18 witnesses and recommend whether the charges against the pilots should go to a court martial, be waived or handled administratively.
Gen. Bruce Carlson will decide what to do with the recommendation, a decision which could take several months.
The U.S. also wanted to give two teams of Canadian snipers fighting in Afghanistan the Bronze Star last year, but Canadian defence officials put the medals on hold.
The five snipers spent 19 days fighting alongside American troops clearing Taliban and al-Qaida fighters out of the mountains in eastern Afghanistan.
The soldiers, who were members of the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricias Canadian Light Infantry, were recommended for three Bronze Stars and two Bronze Stars with distinction.