As one of the last military reservists from the Capital Region to serve in Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan, Maj. Hugh Carter made it his personal mission to bring a bit of home with him to the war-torn nation.
In doing so, he has helped forge a stronger connection between the historic mission and several municipalities in Greater Victoria.
After seeing other military personnel fly their hometown flags at various Canadian camps in Afghanistan, Carter decided to do something similar “as a closure to the mission and our combat role.”
While home on leave last October, he collected municipal flags from Victoria, Esquimalt, Oak Bay and the Esquimalt Dockyard branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
While in Afghanistan he had photos taken of himself and another Island reservist holding the flags at the war memorial at the Kandahar Airfield military camp.
“These were the last flags to actually be there when we closed down the operations and moved to our training mission,” said Carter, an Esquimalt resident who serves with Edmonton-based Land Force Western Area, one of four Canadian Army commands.
During a recent Victoria governance and priorities committee meeting, Mayor Dean Fortin asked Carter to tell the story of where Victoria’s flag had been.
“It’s a visual reminder of those members of our society that do public service and serve in our armed forces, and it’s an opportunity to honour them,” Fortin said.
The photo of the flag at the war memorial now hangs in council chambers. The flag itself will one day either be flown again in the city or permitted to travel elsewhere.
Dockyard Legion branch manager Doug Grant was thrilled when Carter asked to take the Legion’s flag to Afghanistan.
“It just struck the hearts of the people here when we talked about it,” Grant said.
He plans to add the treasured item to the branch’s Wall of Heroes tribute, which features the photos of Canadians who died during Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan.
“We’re going to stand the flag down,” Grant said. “It will never be flown again.”
Esquimalt’s flag has also been returned. Oak Bay will receive its flag in the coming weeks.