Retired colonel Clyde Russell, a highly decorated infantry and special operations officer during his whole career with the Canadian military, was impressed with Remembrance Day ceremonies in Stephenville on Sunday.
“The ceremony was very touching and had participation of lots of young people and for a small town of this size it was quite remarkable,” he said.
During his military career Russell picked up some awards along the way and where he was involved in special operations he never spoke much about them in the past, but now that he is retired can speak more freely.
“I was never one to look for medals or commendations but when them come I accept them with great humility on behalf of the troops that worked for me — they’re the ones that earned them,” he said.
Russell is an officer of the Order of Military Merit — a prestigious award presented to him back in 2007 by then Governor General Michaëlle Jean at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
He said there are three classes in the order, which include: member, officer and commander.
Russell believes he probably received the award for the work he did in creating the modern day special operations courses that he worked at developing for seven years, which took place while the 9-11 terrorists attacks and the war in Afghanistan were going on.
He is also a recipient of the U.S. Army bronze star, which was given to him by the U.S. Special Operations Command — a combat award for meritorious service in the face of the enemy.
This came for his service in Afghanistan around 2005-06 but wasn’t received by him until 2014 and presented to him at Legion Branch 35 by a general who came down from Ottawa.
Russell said another award he is proud of is a letter of commendation on work he did in the wake of the Swiss Air 111 crash that happened in 1998 off Peggy’s Cove, N.S.
There were other commendations, but those three are the ones he wanted to talk about.
“You would never be able to do all the things you do in the military without a strong family behind you,” he said.
Russell said he had that in wife Elsie and his three children: twins Samantha Hyska and Michelle Russell, who live in Calgary, AB and son Roland Russell, a major in the military police who lives in Ottawa, ON.