Sgt. John Wayne Faught
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Canadian soldier killed on foot patrol in Afghanistan

By Matthew Fisher and Ken Meaney

Canwest News Service — January 16, 2010

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — “A career soldier” and “family man” from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., has become the first Canadian killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010.

Sgt. John Wayne Faught, from the Edmonton-based 1 Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, stepped on a homemade landmine early Saturday afternoon while leading his section on a joint foot patrol with Afghan army troops, about 15 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City.

The 44-year-old infantryman died near the village of Nakhoney in Panjwaii District, which Canadian forces seized from Taliban-control without a fight late last year. The security patrol he led was to learn more about what villagers needed to build the local economy.

Faught was “affectionately known to his soldiers” as Toast “because, in his words, he was hard and crusty (and) was known for his straightforward approach to soldiering,” Brig.-Gen. Daniel Menard, the Canadian Task Force commander said in announcing the death.

“He could always be counted on to tell it like it is when asked his opinion. A career soldier, his life revolved around the army.”

The general described Faught as “very much a father figure” to his section. “He protected them and looked out for them very much as a father would,” Menard said, adding that he was “our great fallen warrior.”

“For some, he was a brother, for others a father. To all he was an exceptional soldier.”

Back home in Sault Ste. Marie, Faught’s uncle, Ron, said his nephew was on his third tour in Afghanistan and was due to return home in June.

Faught, who also served in Bosnia during his 23 years in the military, wasn’t married, his uncle said, but “family was everything to him.”

“He always wanted to help everybody but himself. He would give you the shirt off his back,” Ron Faught said. “He was a good man.”

Faught’s family were proud of his service in Afghanistan, he said.

“It was something he was committed to. He believed in Canadians being there.”

Ron Faught said military personnel have been to see the soldier’s mother and arrangements were pending to return his body to Canada.

Faught leaves behind his mother, Donna, a sister in Toronto and a girlfriend in Thunder Bay, Ont.

In a statement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Faught’s sacrifice in the name of Canada and the Canadian people will not be forgotten.

“It is with great sorrow that I extend my condolences, and those of all Canadians, to the family and friends of Sgt. John Wayne Faught,” said Harper. “He gave his life not only to protect Canadians and our national interests, but also to provide hope to Afghans for a better future.”

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said Faught was a “dedicated section commander in the proudest tradition of our Armed Forces.

“His tragic loss reminds us of the sacrifices our Canadian soldiers are making every day to help to build a safe and secure country for the people of Afghanistan. We are forever grateful for his selflessness and courage.”

He was the 139th Canadian soldier and the 38th Patricia to die in Afghanistan since the Chretien government first sent troops to the country soon after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

The Patricia’s have spent more time in Afghanistan than the other two regular-force infantry formations, the Ontario-based Royal Canadian Regiment and the Quebec-based Royal 22nd Regiment.

The RCR and the Vandoos have suffered 28 and 15 deaths in Afghanistan, respectively.

The number of NATO troops who died in Afghanistan leapt from 295 in 2008 to 530 last year, largely owing to the Taliban having laid more so-called improvised explosive devices, which have often been packed with much bigger and more powerful explosives.

That ominous trend looks set to continue. Only 16 days into the new year, the number of NATO fatalities is already 27 and all of them have died in IED strikes.

Senior NATO and Canadian commanders had warned that a surge in mostly U.S. forces last year and this year would probably lead to greater coalition casualties as the Taliban were squeezed out of their traditional sanctuaries in the South.

Thirty-two Canadian soldiers died in Afghanistan last year — the same number as in 2008. The worst year for Canadian fatalities was 2006, when 36 soldiers were killed.

As well, diplomat Glyn Berry was killed in 2006 and journalist Michelle Lang of the Calgary Herald died on Dec. 30, 2009. Both Berry and Lang were with Canadian troops at the time.

In the first years of the conflict, many Canadian casualties were the result of firefights with the Taliban. But since 2008, more than 80 per cent of Canadian deaths have been caused by IEDs.

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Published in Remembrance.com from Jan. 17 to Jan. 22, 2010.