On 2 September 2006, the Canadian Army launched what is considered to be one of the most deadly operations in recent military history. NATO's Operation MEDUSA aimed to reclaim the Pashmal/Panjawyi district of Afghanistan from the Taliban. The enemy had been massing in the region with the express purpose of launching a major assault against the city of Kandahar.
The 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment (1 RCR) led a battle group of 1,500 strong including its companies, E Battery, 2nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (2 RCHA), Recce (ISTAR) Squadron, Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD), 23 Field Squadron, Royal Canadian Engineers (RCE) , as well as elements of the Afghan National Army and the United States Army.
While Day 1 could be considered a success as the battle group moving into position, Day 2 took a turn for the worse. Late in the afternoon of Day 1, after routes had been cleared and forces moved into defensive positions for the night, the CO 1 RCR was directed to move the plan forward by a full 48 hours. The attack on the enemy position in Pashmul was to be on 3 September vice the originally planned date of 5 September. The shortened time did not allow for the full reconnaissance, preparation and planning that was required, but the assault went in at 0600 hours the following morning regardless.
With Charles Company in the lead, the Taliban opened fire from three sides. Caught in the crossfire were the leading infantry platoons and supporting engineer sections from 2 Troop. Four RCR soldiers were killed. A 2 Troop Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV), commanded by Sergeant Shane Stachnik was hit killing him and wounding MCpl Craig Murray. MCpl Dwayne Orvis, Stachnik's second-in-command took over and got the section out of the killing zone. He was awarded a Mention in Dispatches for his actions that day. Nearby, Cpl Clinton Orr, operating an armoured bulldozer, had rescued an RCR LAV and crew and was attempting to rescue a second LAV, only to be called off when he was told the crew had withdrawn to safety. He was subsequently awarded a Medal of Military Valour.
Silver Cross Mother
Sgt Stachnik's mother, Avril Dianna Stachnik of Waskatenau, AB, was named the Silver Cross Mother for 2008. She laid a wreath that year at the National War Memorial during the Remembrance Day ceremonies on behalf of all bereaved parents. The Silver Cross is a memorial medal first authorized in 1919 for the mothers and widows of servicemen killed during the First World War.
Reference: Clearing the Way, Combat Engineers in Kandahar, edited by Major Mark Gasparotto
Canadian Military Family Magazine, 7 Sep 19, Remembering Operation MEDUSA
CTV News Clip, 10th Anniversary