View Full Version : Canada Jason Lamont ,Medal of Military Valour, Afghanistan

08-28-2009, 05:02 PM
Canada’s third highest military decoration the Medal of Military Valour

Corporal Jason Lamont remembers a pre-deployment briefing given by Lieutenant Colonel Ian Hope. “He brought us all in as a group, and made us stand to attention. He said, ‘Look to your left and right. By the end of this tour, not everyone you see is going to be there.’” Private, and later Corporal Lamont, would spend most of Rotation 1 “outside the wire,” a medic attached to various platoons and companies, trying his best to prove the words of Lieutenant Colonel Hope wrong.

“I did the best I could with what I had. And no matter what you do, and no matter how well you do your job, sometimes there’s just absolutely nothing you can do about it. I like to think I did everything I could, but some people just … it’s their time.”

The first combat Corporal Lamont saw, was early in the tour, in the darkness. As his small group tried to free a stuck vehicle in a deserted area, a sentry spotted 20 enemy nearby. “They had a nice little ambush set up for us. We hit them before they got any chance to hit us, but that really brought it home. This is a war zone – these people are really trying to kill us.”

Later in the tour, Corporal Lamont was attached to Recce Platoon. His first day with them was July 13. “We went 11 days with straight firefighting, pretty much. Every day we got into some skirmish. We were traveling around, and no matter where we went or what we did, somehow we always found ourselves in a skirmish.” Corporal Lamont feels he was an infantry soldier first, a medic second. He feels every rifle counts. “I was told, ‘You are a rifleman just like everybody else, until someone yells the word MEDIC, and when they do that, that’s when you go and you do your medical job.” His first day with Recce Platoon was the first time he heard “Medic!”

“We went dismounted to secure a compound. We got ambushed pretty much 360, and we pretty much got pinned down. From the rate and volume of fire, and the RPGs and mortars and AK fire coming in… it was intense, it was probably one of the most intense firefights I’ve ever been in.”For roughly two hours Cpl Lamont’s section was under fire.“There was 45 minutes that we spent completely pinned down and separated from the main body. We were all pretty sure that we were going to die. It was one of those defining moments where I was pretty positive that this is the end, and that’s actually when Alpha Company showed up with their two LAVs and bailed us out.

“That was also my first day with Recce Platoon ... welcome to! “When we were pinned down, and you see RPGs come in every five or 10 seconds– one came within 10 feet and splashed everybody with dirt. You hear bullets whizzing by your head, mortars droppingin left and right, they’re kind of getting closer and closer, and you know they’re zeroing you in.

“I mean you do what you can to try to lay some fire downrange, to try to suppress them, but, when you’re pinned down like that, and its coming from all around, there’s only so much you can do.“I thought briefly of home, but I didn’t want to start thinking about that and distract myself in case something dire really did happen. So you kind of just think about the boys, try and keep yourself situationally aware, where everybody is, where all the fire’s coming from.
Helicopter in dust Helicopter in dust

“A lot of hoping that the vehicles know where we are, a lot of ‘Oh my God I hope the vehicles come soon!’” Corporal Lamont says with a chuckle. “That type of thing.”

It was during that desperate engagment that Corporal Lamont earned his medal. “When we first got in the compound, pretty much the moment we got there, was the moment we came under fire. Sergeant Janek and two others were across the firing line, and were covering our three o’clock up ahead of the main group. When we started getting fire from right near where they were, the platoon commander called them back to the firing line.

“When he did that, two guys made it back. We looked at them, and asked where Sgt Janek was. You could just instantly see the look of dread in their faces, and then they said, ‘He was right behind us!’” One of the two soldiers had fallen. Sgt Janek had bent over to haul him up by his belt. While bent over, Sergeant Janek was shot in the back.

“The bullet caught him in the plate. If it had been an inch more to the right, he probably wouldn’t be here today. Very lucky man.” The soldiers called out to Sergeant Janek, 150 metres away. “I got hit!” was the reply. Corporal Lamont asked him where.

“He didn’t know if it was him or his plate, cause it took the whole wind out of him, and he was pretty hurting at that point. I just looked at the platoon commander, and I told him, ‘I need to get over there.’”

Corporal Lamont left the safety of cover.“I just did the old mad dash across. As I was running across, there were two bullets that hit the dirt right in front of me, and the dirt kind of splashed against my legs. I had to kind of dance to the side to avoid it. I kind of smiled to myself, because I thought of that whole, ‘Dance, cowboy, dance!’ where buddy’s shooting the ground. “I was just sort of smiling to myself as I was running along, just thinking about that, when ‘PEOW’ a bullet whizzed by my head. As soon as that happened, I had the old frown on – this isn’t funny anymore.”

Corporal Lamont reached Sergeant Janek. “I just barreled in and dove into him. He was in a ditch, covered up to his chest in water, hunched over. I checked out his plate, put my finger in his back.“I asked him how he was doing, and he was having a really hard time talking and breathing, because it knocked the wind right out of him. He had major bruising, we found out afterwards, but it didn’t go through.”

The question now was whether to stay or go back through the fire. “After I checked him out, I patted him on the back, and I said, ‘You know, it didn’t go through, you’re good to go.’

“And he’s like, ‘Well, that’s good.’

“And I’m like, ‘Geez, do ya think?’

“And he’s, ‘Right, Doc, get back over, they need you.’

“And I’m like, ‘Nah, no, I think I’ll stay with you. I'm pretty comfy here.’

Sergeant Janek replied, “Naaah, they need you over there.”

At that moment, someone else yelled,“Medic!” Another soldier had fallen and badly injured his knee.“I got the platoon commander’s attention, told him I was coming across, did the old mad dash again.”

Fortunately, there was a lull in the enemy fire. But as soon as he reached the second soldier, the hellish 45 minutes began. It had been a tough first day with Recce Platoon. But Cpl Lamont had been quickly accepted.“I didn’t really know the guys, and the guys didn’t know me. At first they were a little unsure. They were a little like, ‘Oh great, we got some new medic.’ They didn’t know if they could trust me, so of course they’re going to be a little iffy.”It turned out they could trust him.

“After that, they’re coming up to me,‘Doc, we love you, you’re awesome, anytime you want to come back we’ll be more than happy to have you here.’ From that point on, the relationship between myself and the boys was just awesome. They treated me like gold. And I did my best to do the same to them.”

Corporal Lamont feels that the respect has gone branch-wide – between the medics and the combat arms.“That’s the great thing, we’re actually getting recognized. Before you would hear people complaining. And now that we’ve actually stepped up to the plate, and people realize that we’re doing their job right beside them, we’re building a phenomenal rapport with these guys.

After saving their best friend’s life, they have a lot more respect for you.” Not all the best friends could be saved.“The worst was actually August 3, when the four guys died. Myself and Corporal Lewis, who is my best friend, we were the medics for that entire incident. There were us two for that whole mass casualty … me and him with one jump bag on our backs each to deal with 21 guys, and four guys that didn’t make it. So, you know, it was a rough day.”

Corporal Lamont was able to lean on his fiancee, Corporal Jessica Guerin, for support. “She’s really awesome about me talking about that kind of stuff. I know I can talk to her and not be afraid to tell her what’s really going on. She’s a medic as well. She’s in the military – she understands. She said every time, if there’s something you want to talk about, don’t be afraid about scaring me, I can take it. ”The couple have an 18 month-old son, Liam, and will marry next year.
Medal of Military Valour

And the medal? “It’s all kind of much to go from some regular private/corporal, to all of a sudden everybody wants to get an interview with you.” Corporal Lamont laughs, “Everyone at work is like ‘Oooooo the hero!’ type of thing ‘Are you sure you’re going to be able to talk to us after all this?’ But everyone’s been really good about it, and I don’t think its been too outrageous. “I have kind of mixed feelings, actually. Almost embarrassed at the whole thing, kind of being singled out. I think there’s a lot of other med techs who did amazing things over there, too, who should be recognized as well.

“I don’t see this whole medal thing as being a personal gain for myself. I see it as a great thing for the Medical Corps finally being recognized. So I’m kind of the representative for all of them to be receiving this. Every medic stepped up to the plate, did their job, and saved lives.”