When he was thinking of a way to mark the 115th anniversary of the Yarmouth army cadets, Capt. Gary Hudson – commanding officer of the 110 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps – realized it also was coming up on 10 years since the death, in Afghanistan, of Sgt. Kirk Taylor, who for years had a great relationship with the local army cadets.
Capt. Hudson came up with a way to commemorate both anniversaries.
“I said, ‘what better way to do it than to strike a coin?’”
This past Sunday at the armouries in Yarmouth, during the local army cadet corps’ annual cadet review, Capt. Hudson announced plans for a special commemorative coin.
One side of the coin will be dedicated to the 110 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, which was established in 1904 and has been serving the Yarmouth area ever since. The other side will feature an image of Sgt. Taylor, who was killed in Afghanistan at the end of 2009. The idea is to honour him and all Canadians who lost their lives in Afghanistan.
The coin's designer and producer is SGS Marketing.
Sgt. Taylor was a member of the 84th Independent Field Battery – the Yarmouth-based army reserve unit – and he volunteered as a liaison between the 84th and the cadets.
“He did a lot of stuff for us,” Capt. Hudson recalled in an interview after Sunday’s ceremony. “Whatever support we needed from them, Kirk would always make sure that we got it. And he loved being around the cadets. He loved instructing the cadets and mentoring the cadets. He knew how important the cadet program was because he was a navy cadet when he was younger.”
Sgt. Taylor was 28 years old and serving in Afghanistan when, on Dec. 30, 2009, he was killed in a bomb blast that also killed three other Canadian soldiers and a Canadian journalist. He had been deployed to Kandahar in October as a CIMIC operator with the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team. He was scheduled to come home in May 2010.
At his funeral, which was held at the Mariners Centre in Yarmouth on Jan. 11, 2010, Taylor was described as somone who lived everyday like it was a celebration and as someone who also appreciated the small things in life, whether it was getting some new work boots, or his failed attempt at peanut butter balls.
Aside from his military career as a reservist that started when he joined the Canadian Forces in April 2000, his life's accomplishments included being a team leader with the Yarmouth County Ground Search and Rescue Team and working with YACRO, where he was not only concerned for those with challenges, but he sought to make a difference in their lives and the quality of their lives. He was involved with the army cadets and sea cadets. He lived in Yarmouth County prior to his deployment, but he also spent much of his life growing up in Shelburne County.
Taylor, it was stated at his funeral, didn’t have to go to Afghanistan. But he wanted to.
“A lot has been said about Sgt. Taylor having the choice as a reservist to serve in Afghanistan. There was no requirement, no orders, no expectation for him to leave his girlfriend, his family, his friends and his work,” said Major Gus Garant, Battery Commander with the 84th Independent Field Battery at the 2010 ceremony. “He made that choice because he felt the need to make a contribution just like he did with the 84th.”
Capt. Hudson said they hope the coin will be available by November. The plan is to have 200 of them. Each army cadet will get one for free. Members of the public who would like one will be able to purchase a coin for $15.
“We want people to understand two things,” Capt. Hudson said, referring to the coin project. “One, we lost a very good person in our community, a strong leader (in Sgt. Taylor). The other is that this (army cadet) unit has been in this community for 115 years. That’s a long time.”
(With files from Tina Comeau)