Today we are recognizing one of our own fallen soldiers, Corporal Kenneth Chad O’Quinn.
In 2015, we had the honour of learning about Chad’s story and meeting his family through the request of one of our community youth, Julia Kelland, to name a municipal street in his memory. On June 16, 2015 the Town held a ceremony and named its newest street in the Town Centre, Corporal O’Quinn Boulevard as a symbol of his heroism, bravery and the community’s deep appreciation and respect for the Canadian Forces.
In honour of all the veterans and soldiers we recognize on Remembrance Day, we want to share a brief excerpt from Chad’s story with the community. This story was recorded by Julia Kelland for her Heritage Project on Canada’s Role in Afghanistan, and is based on her interview with Chad’s parents, Ken and Rhonda:
Chad was born in Happy Valley-Goose Bay where he lived until his family moved to Oromocto, NB. Chad was unique from the moment he was born (a month premature) and from the time he learned to talk, he was so inquisitive. ‘No’ was not an answer in his vocabulary and he needed a detailed explanation as to why you were saying ‘no’. His parents believe he decided on the military during the grade 11 Career Day at his school. As soon as the recruitment officers mentioned “adventurous” career, Chad was hooked. His parents were very supportive of his decision and encouraged him to make the most of it. After a year in the Royal Military College, Chad didn’t see himself as an officer – he had a real passion for being a “hands on” kind of soldier.
Chad did his first tour in Afghanistan in 2005 and his second in 2008. He started out as a Signals Operator, but this job kept him in the “safe zone” and he didn’t like that. He wanted to be “outside the wire”, in the middle of all the action. For his second tour, Chad trained as an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) specialist and eventually became part of a group that searched for IEDs on roadsides to detonate them for the protection of innocent people. During this tour, he did a physical test for the Joint Task Force (JTF) and passed it while still recovering from a skydiving injury. Chad’s goal was to proceed with JTF when he returned to Canada in the spring of 2009, but it was a new challenge that he never had the chance to take.
Sadly, Chad was killed on March 3, 2009 when an IED detonated near his armoured vehicle, northwest of Kandahar City, while serving in the 3rd Battalion RCR Battle Group. He was just 25 years old. Since that day, the O’Quinn family has received overwhelming support from family, friends and strangers. In November 2009, they were given the opportunity to visit Afghanistan and meet Chad’s fellow soldiers as well as the head of the Afghan Army who presented them with the Afghan flag as a symbol of appreciation for what Chad had done for their country. His parents speak of the overwhelming love and support from people gathered on the Highway of Heroes as Chad’s remains returned home for the ceremony in Trenton. His family’s biggest fear is that over time, people may forget him. They want people to understand and respect what Chad and so many other brave Canadians have sacrificed. Chad wanted to make a difference and they believe that he did and that others like him still continue to do so.
Special thanks from all of us to Julia and Chad’s parents, for sharing his story. You have given our community and central Labrador the opportunity to allow Chad’s story, memory and bravery to live on in our hearts and minds forever. #Remembrance Day #LestWeForget #RememberThem #HighwayofHeroes