There are different metaphors for the role of the Non-Commissioned Officer, an older soldier, usually a senior sergeant or warrant officer, who gives stability, mentoring, and discipline to young soldiers as required. In German, as I understand it, the term for NCO, feldwebel, means “field wife”, someone who cares for their soldiers. In the case of Sgt. John Wayne Faught, the 139th Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan, the term used by those who knew him was “father figure”.

Sgt. Faught was forty-four, old for an infantryman, and served with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry out of Edmonton. He was on his third tour in Afghanistan and was looking forward to retirement in a few years. Sgt. Faught was killed this Saturday, January 16th, by a mine while on foot patrol with Afghan National Army soldiers. The Globe and Mail commentary suggests that this incident was a rarity in the region where Faught was killed, and supports the idea that our troops are making a difference and are seen as defenders by the local population:

“Residents of Nakhoney described how they believed Canadian soldiers had succeeded in driving the Taliban out of their vineyards and farmlands for good.

“For six months, we haven’t seen any Taliban in this area. We thank the Canadians for their sacrifice. Their patrols help keep this area safe for us,” said Haji Baran, the Afghan commissioner responsible for the district where the explosion took place, about 15 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city.

Dozens of villagers poured into the commissioner’s office yesterday as word spread of the Canadian soldier’s death. Many expressed fear and worry that the Taliban were attempting a return to their village.

“We try to keep them out of our area, but at nighttime it is difficult,” said a 50-year-old farmer, Haji Mohammad.”

The same G&M article also reports some comments by my chaplain colleague, Padre Kevin Newhook. You can read the article here.

Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon him.