Sapper Brian Collier
Sapper Brian Collier loved many things, including socializing, sports and cars, but nothing could match the love he had for his family and the army.
Spr Collier was born in Toronto on 6 July 1986. He grew up in Bradford, Ont. among a tight-knit family comprised of his parents, Jim and Carol Collier; his three younger sisters (Shannon, Jennine and Lauren), his grandmother and his aunts, uncles and cousins.
Outgoing, loyal and well respected, he looked out for those around him, especially his three younger sisters. And even as a teenager, he was known as a protector and a peacekeeper.
"He was very protective. I always wanted to be with my older brother," his sister Shannon told The Star. "He was our big brother and our hero."
Spr Collier was adventuresome and athletic; he played hockey, rugby and baseball. He was down-to-earth and easily likeable with a great sense of humour. And he ended every call with his family with, "I love you."
"Brian had an extraordinary amount of friends and was well known around town. He had such a huge presence when he stepped into a room filled with people and was always the centre of attention. He had a positive attitude, was full of joy, he supported all of his friends, and knew he could count on them as well," Spr Collier's sister Jennine wrote in a column for SP24 news.
After working for a few years following graduation from Bradford District High School, Spr Collier joined the army in 2007. He attended basic training at CFB Borden before enrolling in the Combat Engineering course. In November 2008, he was posted to the Edmonton-based 1 Combat Engineer Regiment.
Spr Collier was drawn to the army by the challenge and the opportunities it offered. He saw it as a place where he could define himself. His sister Shannon said that in the military, "He could be himself; be his own person; be a leader."
He was also intent on serving in Afghanistan: It was one of the reasons he chose to enlist in the first place.
"He wanted to go there (Afghanistan), he trained to go there, he was an excellent soldier, and he was so honoured to be asked to go there," said his mother, Carol, during an interview with Barrie CTV. "I'm so proud of him and I miss him."
The 24-year-old soldier joined the mission in Afghanistan in 2010, and he quickly established a reputation as a combat engineer, a soldier and a person.
Spr Collier was wounded three weeks after he arrived in Afghanistan on 6 July 2010—his birthday—when a makeshift bomb exploded. Sgt Martin Goudreault, also of 1CER, was killed. Spr Collier received The Chief of the Defence Staff Commendation and the Sacrifice Medal for his actions during that incident.
Once he had recovered from his injuries, Spr Collier rejoined his unit rather than go home; he couldn't bring himself to leave his friends behind.
A second improvised explosive device, or IED, claimed his life near the village of Nakhonay, west of Kandahar City on 20 July 2010.
"Any Canadian who could have seen Brian in action would have been proud of him and proud of our country for the work being done with and for Afghans," said Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance, the commander of Task Force Kandahar.
In her column, Jennine wrote, "Driving down the highway of heroes when Brian finally landed back on home soil was a life-changing experience. Knowing how proud Canadians are of my older brother was outstanding. I have never been so proud of anyone in my life. He laid his life down for not only his own country but for the children of Afghanistan."
Spr Collier is remembered in the Brian Collier Memorial Fund, which supports scholarships at Holy Trinity Catholic High School and Bradford District High. A card tournament, a ball hockey tournament and a baseball tournament all raise funds for the scholarship fund. The Bradford town council named a renamed a street "Brian Collier Way" in 2011.