William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

SHORT TIME JAMIE’S GONE HOME EARLY

Corporal Jamie Murphy wore his flak jacket o’er his vest
And young Hafiz Abdullah strapped an Artillery round to his chest
Both young men blew into smithereens as the jeep slowed to a pause
Bin Ladin, Omar and Hekmatyar all worked for an evil cause

Murphy he had real short time, just ten more days to go!
He was coming back to Canada and the days were passing slow
Jamie he was twenty six and Hafiz was twenty two
Murphy was placed in a body bag and homeward bound he flew

In the hills o’er near Pakistan, Osama is waiting still
Bin Ladin every now and then; he orders up a kill
They killed Jamie, who was a fine young man
Who kept the peace in Afghanistan

Mullah Mohammad Omar leads the Taliban
Osama of the Al-Qaeda rules in Afghanistan
Culbuddin Hekmatyar, is a drug lord of renown
They killed Jamie Murphy outside old Kabul town

It seems an awful bloody crime
Just 10 more days is a short, short time
It wasn’t in young Murphy’s plan
To return this way to Newfoundland

God bless his parents Norm and Alice, they both just lost a son
God bless each short time peacekeeper who’s carrying a gun
Please light a candle and say a prayer
For all our lads still over there!

Top Stories
Times Colonist Wednesday January 28, 2004

TRAGEDY IN AFGHANISTAN

Bring them home, says grieving mom

BY RICHARD FOOT: For CanWest News Service

CONCEPTION HARBOUR, Nfld. — Alice Murphy had pleaded with her son Jamie not to join the army, was terrified by his posting to Afghanistan, and now says Canada should pull its troops from a country whose people, she says, “don’t want peace or even know what it means.”

Sitting in a tiny kitchen surrounded by her heartbroken family, hours after learning her youngest child had been killed by a suicide bomber half a world away, Murphy urged the federal government to stop sending soldiers to a place whose violence she can’t comprehend.

“I don’t think any of them should be oven there,” she said, shaking with grief during an interview with CanWest News Service. “It’s too late for Jamie but bring the other boys home.”

“Life means nothing for those people over there. They don’t think twice about killing anybody. Jamie’s not the first one to die and he won’t be the last. We shouldn’t leave the rest of them there any longer.”

In spite of such anger and sadness, Alice and her husband Norman – a retired couple who live in a simple green and white wooden house overlooking this achingly beautiful saltwater inlet on Newfoundland’s Avalon coast — remain flush with pride at their son’s accomplishment, in the military.

Their kitchen table overflowed Tuesday with framed photographs of Jamie in uniform. He looked like a skinny, fresh-faced 19-year-old when he graduated from infantry school seven years ago. By the time he journeyed to Afghanistan last year with the Royal Canadian Regiment, he was tall, tough-looking warrior with a tour of duty in Kosovo already under his belt.

His best friend in Conception Harbour said Jamie had told him via e-mail that Afghanistan was a more dangerous mission than Kosovo, but that he never mentioned the possible consequences of soldiering in such a place.

He said things were more stressed out in Afghanistan,” said Doug Rotchford. “He knew the personal risks were much bigger. But he didn’t dwell on it. It’s what he wanted to do.”

Alice Murphy last talked to her son by telephone on Sunday. His time in Afghanistan was almost at an end. He was due back in Canada on Feb. 8, and his father had been checking off the days on a calendar.

In Petawawa, Ont., Jamie and his girlfriend Candace had purchased a house near the army base where he was stationed. Candace was packed and waiting for Jamie’s return, so the two of them could take possession of their home on March 1.

Jamie’s Newfoundland family had been booking airline tickets to fly to Ontario, to help the couple move in.

“He was so close to being back,” said Alice. “They had the keys to their new house. We were going to go up and see them — but now I…”

Alice and Norman were awakened at 5 a.m. on Tuesday by the knocking of an army officer and a military chaplain at their door. Alice quickly called her three surviving adult children with news of the tragedy. And as word spread though this snowbound community of 1,200 people Tuesday, so did the shock.

‘This is just devastating to everyone here,” said Catherine Mansfield.

“I’ve known Jamie since he was a little boy. He was a lovely boy and a lovely young man. He always had a little grin on his face. You couldn’t meet a nicer person.”

“I think our soldiers should be in Afghanistan. It’s just that we don’t realise – being a peacekeeping nation – that in sending our young men and women to dangerous countries, some of them might get killed.”

A devout Roman Catholic, Alice Murphy is renowned in Conception Harbour for selling tickets to church fundraising events. But so constant were her worries about Jamie’s safety while he was posted overseas, that whenever she sold a ticket to someone, she also asked them to say a prayer for her son.

Roughly a quarter of Canadian troops in Afghanistan call Newfoundland home. As jobs in the fishery and other traditional forms of labour disappeared in recent years, more and more young people began turning to the military for a career.

After graduating, from high school seven years ago, Jamie applied for entrance to both the army and to a local trade school, announcing he would go with whichever organization called first. When the army reached him first, his mother begged him not to join.

“He lived a dangerous life as far as I was concerned,” added Alice. “But he lived the life he wanted. I was just so afraid that one day, something was going to happen to him.”