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Canadian Jon Snyder helped save 50 Afghan recruits from the Taliban. Three days later, he died

Bullets pelted the low dust wall above Capt. Jonathan Snyder’s head, showering him and the Afghan troops round him in mud.

Taliban gadget weapons rattled within the distance, spraying the opposite facet of the wall with lead.

“Inform them to shoot again!” Jon yelled to the Afghan Nationwide Military (ANA) commander subsequent to him. The person simply stared again, frozen within the face of his first primary struggle. His 55 ANA troops had been covered up alongside the low dust wall, looking forward to orders in what was once their first struggle undertaking below the Canadians’ steering.

They weren’t intended to be ducking bullets in a stinking ditch between two farmer’s fields, looking forward to the Taliban to enclose them and gun all of them down. They had been intended to be studying tips on how to march.

Jon pressed his again towards the wall and listened for a destroy within the Taliban gunfire.

He jumped up on the first destroy in hearth and began capturing again, peppering one of the crucial Taliban-held compounds around the box with bullets. He dropped to his abdominal a 2nd later, simply as gunfire lower the air the place he’d been status.

Jon’s staff of 4 Canadian squaddies adopted his lead, peaking over the wall to fireplace a couple of pictures, then ducking and shifting a couple of steps alongside the wall ahead of firing once more.

“Battle again!” Jon advised the ANA troops yet again.

They didn’t perceive his phrases, however they were given the message. They began capturing again, two and 3 at a time, leaping up and firing wildly ahead of ducking again at the back of the metre-high wall.

The Taliban gunfire eased off, and all of sudden the Canadians and the Afghans felt like that they had a possibility.

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Months later, Jon and his Canadian troops can be honoured at Rideau Corridor for appearing the Afghans tips on how to combat off the Taliban and get away the ambush, whilst ensuring that nobody was once left at the back of.

“With little likelihood of survival, they uncovered themselves to nice peril and retaliated towards the enemy whilst encouraging the Afghan squaddies to do the similar,” the Governor Basic’s place of business stated in its respectable account of that struggle.

Cpl. Cary Baker, Cpl. Steven Bancarz and Capt. Robert Peel won the Canadian Medal of Army Valour for his or her efforts that day, whilst Cpl. Donovan Ball and Capt. Snyder had been awarded the Megastar of Army Valour — the very best honour passed out throughout the Afghan Battle. Ball risked enemy hearth to stay their get away course open, whilst Snyder coached the Afghan commander via a just about unwinnable state of affairs.

However Jon wasn’t there to obtain his medal. The 26-year-old died 3 nights after the ambush, when he fell into an unmarked properly throughout an evening patrol in southeastern Afghanistan.

A memorial for Jonathan Snyder is shown in Langley, B.C., on Nov. 11, 2013.

A memorial for Jonathan Snyder is proven in Langley, B.C., on Nov. 11, 2013.

Dale Friesen/Fb

Jon’s circle of relatives and previous comrades-in-arms are remembering him for his management, his determination and his decency this Remembrance Day, as they mark the 10th anniversary of his dying in Afghanistan.

Jon’s father David, a former reservist, says he had misgivings concerning the Afghan Battle, however he’d sought after to stay the ones to himself till after his son was once achieved serving.

“Battle is so silly,” stated David Snyder in a telephone interview from Penticton, B.C. “However every now and then, it’s a must to move.”

Snyder says his son was once a good, fashionable and fiercely impartial guy who at all times handled others with admire. “He wasn’t hung up or envious,” Snyder stated.

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Bancarz described Jon as a “herbal chief” who didn’t lord his talent over others. “He wasn’t cocky, he wasn’t egotistical,” Bancarz stated. “He was once simply excellent at it.”

Peel stated Jon was once an excellent soldier who would possibly have in the future turn into a most sensible commander within the Canadian Forces. “Everybody seemed him as one of the crucial guys who was once going to head all of the manner,” Peel stated.

Baker recalls Jon as any individual who was once actually devoted to being a soldier.

“It’s a tragic factor, however the man died doing what he cherished to do.”

A B.C. boy who “wasn’t intimidated” through bullies

Jonathan Sutherland Snyder was once born Dec. 20, 1981, and raised on his circle of relatives’s ranch in Penticton, B.C., at the side of his brother Adam, who was once a couple of years older. Their father David taught English at Penticton Top Faculty and their mom, Anne, was once an area reporter.

Jon was once an impartial and assured boy who knew from a tender age that he sought after to be within the army. He joined the cadets at age 12 and deliberate to turn into an officer after college.

He pursued quite a lot of pursuits as a kid, from snowboarding and basketball to making a song and performing on degree.

“He had a self belief that he won early from appearing in musical theatre,” Jon’s dad, David, stated in a telephone interview from his house in Penticton. “He wasn’t intimidated.”

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Jon additionally had the boldness to rise up for his ideals when he noticed one thing mistaken. At age 13, he intervened to forestall an older child from bullying a more youthful boy at cadet camp in Valcartier, Que.

“That’s harassment,” Jon informed the bully.

The older cadet became on Jon and pinned him towards the wall, announcing: “I’ll let you know what harassment is.”

Jon reported the incident to his folks and it were given again to the regional cadet officer. Jon’s dad says the bully was once “accosted” inside 24 hours, and the boy didn’t hassle any individual once more.

‘I’ve numerous hope for this nation’

Jon joined the Canadian Forces at age 18 during the Common Officer Coaching Plan, which allowed him to pursue a post-secondary schooling whilst coaching to turn into an officer. He graduated from the College of Victoria in 2003 with a significant in English and a minor in sociology, then joined the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Gentle Infantry in Edmonton as a lieutenant.

Jon deployed to Afghanistan for his first excursion of responsibility in February 2006. He inspired the Canadian brass on the Fight of Panjwaii in March, and was once promoted to captain a little while later.

In a 2006 interview with the Canadian Press, Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie steered Snyder had the center and intelligence to in the future prevail him as head of the Canadian military. Leslie is now parliamentary secretary to the Minister of International Affairs.

Capt. Jonathan Snyder is shown in Afghanistan.

Capt. Jonathan Snyder is proven in Afghanistan.

Steven Horsby/Fb

Jon cherished serving in Afghanistan, and downplayed the risks of the task in conversations along with his folks.

“I’ve numerous hope for this nation,” he informed his folks in a 2006 electronic mail.

“After I communicate to the locals, 99 in step with cent of them are bored with the conflict and simply wish to are living a regular existence. Because of this we’re right here, to supply safety within the space and make stronger the brand new govt in order that in the future, this nation can make stronger itself.”

Buried in the midst of that electronic mail was once an admission: Jon had survived an improvised explosive software that struck his armoured automobile on April 7.

“Don’t concern, everybody walked clear of the assault with out harm,” he wrote, including: “The enjoy has taught me some precious classes that may stay me more secure sooner or later.”

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Jon’s excursion lasted 8 months, and then he returned to Canada and acquired a condominium in Edmonton along with his then-girlfriend, Megan. The 2 were pals since Grade five and turned into a pair in highschool.

The Canadian Demise Race and a go back to Afghanistan

Jon spent the summer time of 2007 residing with Megan in Edmonton and coaching with a number of squaddies within the space, together with Robert Peel.

“He was once the entire bundle,” Capt. Peel stated. “He was once extraordinarily well-read, extraordinarily have compatibility, had a phenomenal figuring out of the battlespace and his other folks, and simply oozed management.”

Jon and Peel determined to peer how difficult they had been through tackling the grueling Canadian Demise Race – a 125-kilometre ultra-marathon during the Rocky Mountains. Maximum contestants run the race as a part of a five-man relay, however Jon and Peel had been made up our minds to each and every run the race solo.

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Rob says spotters pulled him out of the race on the 100-kilometre mark, “as a result of my eyes weren’t dilating anymore.”

However Jon simply stored working. “Jon completed the race without a issues in any respect — aside from that he nearly killed himself with acute renal failure,” Peel stated.

Cpl. Baker says Jon’s efficiency gained him numerous admire amongst his fellow squaddies. “He put himself within the health center voluntarily, making an attempt to try this race himself,” Baker stated. “The man didn’t have an oz. of surrender in him.”

Jon proposed to Megan on Christmas Eve in Costa Rica, and the 2 agreed to set their marriage ceremony date for three hundred and sixty five days later, December 2008 in Jamaica.

Jon volunteered for a 2nd Afghan excursion ahead of the marriage: an eight-month coaching undertaking with the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Crew, starting in February 2008. He and his staff of 4 Canadians would teach teams of 100 Afghan troops to combat the Taliban.

Jonathan Snyder, centre, is shown in Afghanistan in this photo from 2008.

Jonathan Snyder, centre, is proven in Afghanistan on this photograph from 2008.

Derek McLagan/Fb

Jon spent 4 months coaching his first crew of recruits ahead of he was once circled out to paintings with a brand new crew in Afghanistan’s unstable Zharey district in overdue Might.

Jon was once additionally separated from his unique squad and assigned 4 transient squaddies to command: Capt. Robert Peel and Corporals Baker, Bancarz and Ball. He knew Peel from their exercise classes in 2007, however he didn’t know the others really well.


Jon and his new squad had been despatched out on June four, 2008, to mentor an organization of Afghan military recruits via a significant operation in southeastern Afghanistan. They left their base at 2:30 a.m. and marched south on a undertaking to test a number of former Taliban weapon caches that had been considered empty.

In this Dec. 4, 2007 file photo, Canadian troops are shown in the Sangasar region near where Jonathan Snyder’s unit was ambushed.

On this Dec. four, 2007 report photograph, Canadian troops are proven within the Sangasar area close to the place Jonathan Snyder’s unit was once ambushed.

he Canadian Press Photographs/Louie Palu

They’d simply stopped between two farmers’ fields close to their first goal after they got here below hearth. The Taliban were looking forward to them in a cluster of close by structures.

The Afghans and Canadians took quilt at the west facet of a low dust wall that safe them from gadget gun hearth to the east, northeast and south. They feared the Taliban would narrow them down in the event that they retreated throughout a box to the west, so that they had no selection however to hunker down at the back of the wall and work out tips on how to destroy the ambush.

“They stunning a lot had us,” Baker stated.

“They got here very with regards to utterly encircling us.”

However Jon didn’t panic. As a substitute, he despatched Peel and Baker to combat from a trench-like highway on the south finish of the wall, and later dispatched Ball and Bancarz to offer protection to their get away course on the north finish. He additionally refused to let the Afghans abandon two squaddies who had been critically injured throughout the combat.

Peel says Jon expertly coordinated their defence via earpiece radios, issuing orders and significant updates all over the struggle.

“The entire time Jon was once simply chatting with us … on this in point of fact calm, cool voice,” Peel stated. “The extra stressed out he were given, the calmer his voice were given.”

In this Dec. 4, 2007 file photo, a Canadian soldier with a machine gun covers a line of advance during an operation in the Zharey-Panjwaii area where Canadian troops were later ambushed.

On this Dec. four, 2007 report photograph, a Canadian soldier with a gadget gun covers a line of advance throughout an operation within the Zharey-Panjwaii space the place Canadian troops had been later ambushed.

The Canadian Press Photographs/Louie Palu

The ambush lasted just about two hours, and ended when Cpl. Ball made touch with reinforcements on the north finish of the wall. Jon ordered the retreat and the Afghan and Canadian troops slowly subsidized out of the ambush.

Peel and Baker stumbled throughout two injured Afghan squaddies as they introduced up the rear. They informed Jon and he despatched a number of extra ANA troops again to hold their injured males.

“It was once arranged chaos,” Baker stated. He described the Afghan squaddies as “about as inexperienced as they get.”

Peel stated the Afghan leaders had been obviously green, however one of the crucial Afghan recruits had been spectacular of their first struggle.

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The Canadian and Afghan troops put the 2 wounded males on helicopters and marched again to their base at Howz-e-Madad, southwest of Kandahar, after the struggle. The Taliban confused them alongside the best way however did not mount any other full-scale attack. Baker, Bancarz and Peel say they’re nonetheless now not certain what number of Taliban they had been preventing that day, however it will had been as many as 60 well-trained insurgents.

All of them took a second again on the base to realize simply how fortunate they’d been to flee the combat.

“It was once more than likely about as dangerous because it will get, and if it wasn’t for Jon’s management and figuring out of what was once occurring, after which all 5 people operating as a staff to get out of there, it more than likely can have ended up so much worse,” Peel stated.

WATCH BELOW: Canada honours fallen squaddies in ‘No Stone Left By myself’ ceremonies

An twist of fate on patrol

3 days later, Jon and several other different squaddies had been on a foot patrol after darkish, with just a skinny crescent of moon to mild their manner.

They had been navigating via a grape box with the assistance of their evening imaginative and prescient cameras, which quilt one eye and depict the sector in inexperienced mild and shadow. Evening imaginative and prescient cameras magnify mild however in addition they mess along with your intensity belief, making it arduous to peer your ft or keep away from small hindrances at the floor. It was once in particular darkish that evening, and the sector was once stuffed with shadows.

A Canadian Forces soldier is shown with a night-vision camera attached to his helmet before a patrol in Panjwaii, Kandahar, Afghanistan on Apr. 18, 2010.

A Canadian Forces soldier is proven with a night-vision digicam connected to his helmet ahead of a patrol in Panjwaii, Kandahar, Afghanistan on Apr. 18, 2010.

The Canadian Press/Louie Palu

Snyder by no means noticed the shadow that might kill him — an unmarked, open properly known as a kariz, which farmers use to irrigate their fields. A lot of these wells are exposed holes large enough to drop a bucket into — not anything in any respect like a typical water properly.

Jon fell into the kariz and plummeted greater than 20 metres to the ground, into an underground reservoir, someday after nine p.m. that evening.

The warriors above floor attempted to get him out, however the hollow was once too deep and the bottom round it was once too comfortable.

Baker says Jon kicked off his heavy boots and attempted to shrug off the just about 45 kilograms of substances that threatened to pull him down.

“He fought for 4 or 5 hours,” Baker stated. “He fought the entire time.”

Engineers, rescue crews and medics confirmed up and ultimately pulled Jon from the water, subconscious, someday after nighttime on June eight. They rushed him through helicopter to Kandahar Airfield, the place he was once pronounced lifeless upon arrival.

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“It was once devastating,” stated Peel, who was once assigned to take over Jon’s unit the next day to come. “Because the years have long gone through it’s more than likely one of the crucial issues I’ve struggled with essentially the most — the survivor’s guilt of all of it.”

Bancarz says Jon’s dying got here as a surprise to everybody at the base. “It doesn’t subject in case you get vapourized through an IED, riddled with bullets or fall in a properly,” he stated. “It’s nonetheless arduous, guy. It’s nonetheless arduous.”

The Snyder circle of relatives realized about Jon’s twist of fate the next day to come. A military colonel confirmed as much as inform Megan about it, and she or he broke the inside track to Jon’s dad, David, through telephone.

“I don’t know if I’ve been the similar since,” David stated.

Remembering Jon

The Canadian Forces flew Jon’s frame again to Trenton, Ont., on June 11, and buried him at Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa on June 16. He was once the 85th Canadian soldier killed within the struggle.

8 months later, Jon’s fiancée Megan authorised his Megastar of Army Valour from then-governor Basic Michaelle Jean. Bancarz, Baker, Peel and Ball had been additionally there to simply accept their medals within the rite at Rideau Corridor.

Governor General Michaelle Jean speaks with Megan Leigh Stewart as she presents her with the Star of Military Valour to her presented posthumously to her common-law husband, Capt. Jonathan Snyder, during a ceremony at Rideau Hall Friday, Feb. 13, 2009.

Governor Basic Michaelle Jean speaks with Megan Leigh Stewart as she gifts her with the Megastar of Army Valour to her offered posthumously to her common-law husband, Capt. Jonathan Snyder, throughout a rite at Rideau Corridor Friday, Feb. 13, 2009.


Jon’s former comrades say they’ve blended emotions concerning the medals they earned from that ambush.

Baker attempted to show the medal down, however he’s grown to simply accept it over time. “I noticed I may just use it to turn how superior Jon was once,” he stated.

Jonathan Snyder’s mother reflects on the Afghan War

“It’s an incredible honour and I’m in point of fact pleased with it and pleased with the fellows I used to be with that day, however I battle with it every now and then,” Peel stated.

Jon’s mom Anne, who lives in Nova Scotia, flew again to Penticton to be the Silver Go mom for the Remembrance Day carrier in 2013. The city has arrange a number of tributes for her son, together with a memorial plaque. The Snyders additionally introduced a scholarship in his identify on the native highschool.

David and Dorothy Anne Snyder are shown participating in a National Day of Honour ceremony at a Canadian Forces base in Esquimalt, B.C., on May 9, 2014.

David and Dorothy Anne Snyder are proven taking part in a Nationwide Day of Honour rite at a Canadian Forces base in Esquimalt, B.C., on Might nine, 2014.


David says his son would wish to be remembered as a excellent guy and soldier. He wouldn’t wish to be lionized as a larger-than-life “hero.”

Baker says Jon lived his dream of being a soldier, and that’s how he’d more than likely wish to be remembered.

“We’re all there as a result of we volunteered to do it, and Jon was once the epitome of that,” Baker stated.

“That man may just actually do anything else he sought after along with his existence, and that’s what he selected. He was once more than likely one of the crucial best possible I’ve ever noticed do it.”

Peel says he used to take a look at Remembrance Day as a time to pay tribute to veterans from the First and 2nd Global Battle — a suite of far away names to honour from any individual else’s struggle.

“The lack of Jon in Afghanistan made Remembrance Day very actual for me,” he stated.

“For me, annually, Remembrance Day is set remembering Jon Snyder.”

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