Master Corporal Byron Greff
Active, caring, determined, funny and outgoing: All of those qualities, and many more, made Master Corporal Byron Garth Greff a competent, highly likeable and well-respected person and soldier.
MCpl Greff was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, on 11 August 1983. He grew up in the Alberta town of Lacombe, graduating from the Lacombe Composite High School at the age of 17. Two weeks later, he enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces.
He attended basic training in Quebec and battle school at CFB Wainwright in southern Alberta. Following battle school, he joined the Edmonton-based 3rd Battalion of the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry. MCpl Greff, a qualified paratrooper, served with the 3rd Btn's reconnaissance platoon.
He served his first tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2007. His second tour began in 2011 after Canada ended its combat mission that July. MCpl Greff was one of Canada's nearly 1,000 soldiers training the Afghan National Army.
MCpl Greff was killed on 29 October 2011 at the age of 28 when a suicide bomber drove a car filled with explosives into an armoured bus travelling in a convoy through the Afghan capital of Kabul. He had just returned to active duty after taking leave to see his brand new baby. It was a sad twist of fate that he jumped on that bus to get back to base that day.
Sixteen soldiers from other nations (including 12 Americans), three Afghan civilians and a policeman were also killed in the explosion. A military dog was killed, as well.
Lacombe residents tied yellow ribbons around trees throughout the community in the young man's memory. In 2015, the Saskatchewan government named a lake after Greff, who was born in Swift Current, Sask., as part of its geomemorial Commemorative program.
A monument, meanwhile, honouring Canadian soldiers who served in Afghanistan and the 162 Canadian soldiers killed during the war—including Greff—was unveiled in Lacombe in 2017. Located at the Fairview Cemetery Veteran's Field of Honour, the centrepiece of the Lacombe Afghanistan Memorial is a decommissioned Canadian Light Armoured Vehicle III (LAV III).
During the unveiling, Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins said the monument stands as a "reminder for a family and their connection to a father and a husband and a son. Monuments like this one deliver a message to our veterans, and to their families, that their sacrifice, service and loss will not be forgotten. Our community came together to make sure there was a place for veterans, service members and their families to gather and to feel that connection of that service."
MCpl Greff is survived by Lindsay, his wife, and their two children, Kellar and Brielle (who was born two weeks before MCpl Greff died); his parents, Candace and Greg and his siblings, Dustin and Chelsey.
In a statement provided after MCpl Greff's death, his family said, "We are all so proud of Byron; proud of him as a father, son, brother, uncle, grandson and soldier. "Our family is not a military one, so it was a shock to us when he decided to join the Canadian Army.
"Byron, in his younger years, was probably as far from being a military man as one could get. But we supported him and were all very happy that he had found his way to this new life and excelled at it.
"He was always good for a joke, had a wonderful laugh and was able to lighten the mood at just the right time." MCpl Greff enjoyed hockey, hunting and golf. He also had many friends and was known for his warmth, his sense of humour and his infectious laugh.
"He had a very big heart and was full of fun," his mother Candy told The Star. "Oh, my goodness, we'd have sore sides from laughing."