Former Canadian Militia medic Matthew Heneghan regrets not being in a position to say a last farewell to his best friend and previous colleague Pte. Colin Wilmot, who died in provider in Afghanistan more than a decade in the past.
So Heneghan, now living in Falkland, B.C., in the North Okanagan, used to be overwhelmed with pleasure and sadness remaining month whilst he received a surprising Christmas present: an vintage Edmonton Oilers T-shirt Wilmot had left in the back of, smartly folded in a Ziploc bag.
“It was once so much of crying and a lot of bewilderment to my negative female friend sitting beside me, as a result of she had no thought what was once happening,” Heneghan, 39, instructed host Sarah Penton on CBC’s Radio West.
Wilmot, 24, was once killed through an explosive instrument whilst serving as a medic in Kandahar on July 6, 2008. Raised in Fredericton, he used to be one among the 158 Canadian Militia participants who misplaced their lives at the same time as in service in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2011.
The shirt’s unlikely passage, traveling greater than 20,000 kilometres roundtrip and THIRTEEN years between friends, is tied up with Heneghan’s personal adventure thru feelings of guilt for having survived when his family member did not.
Private Colin Wilmot served as a medic in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was once killed by an explosive on July 6, 2008. (Submitted by Matthew Heneghan)
Wilmot’s ‘infectious happiness’
Heneghan says their friendship started in 2007, once they served within the same unit at the Edmonton Canadian Forces base, coaching for deployment to Afghanistan. In Combination Heneghan and Wilmot drank at local pubs, performed games, watched movies and Wilmot’s favourite: Edmonton Oilers’ hockey video games.
“He had this infectious happiness about him and instantly was once an easy guy to bond with,” Heneghan said.
As a medic with a corporal rank, Heneghan says he was once scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan in early 2008 however ended up not likely because of non-public reasons, including a combat with alcohol.
Heneghan, proper, and Wilmot skilled for deployment to Afghanistan on the Edmonton Canadian Forces base from 2007 to 2008. (Submitted by way of Matthew Heneghan)
However Wilmot, who wasn’t scheduled for the tour, asked if he might be deployed — and went.
Heneghan wasn’t in a position to attend Wilmot’s army funeral. He says he suffered from guilt for years after Wilmot were killed in the line of responsibility whilst he stayed house.
Heneghan worked thru some of that guilt through writing A Medic’s Mind in 2019, a memoir that comes with a bankruptcy approximately Wilmot.
A fellow veteran learn the memoir, and was once moved by means of Heneghan’s tale. Phil Hunter had by no means met Wilmot but knew his title, as a result of he have been assigned Colin’s old bunk in Kandahar.
‘Good success attraction’ T-blouse
Hunter says he was assigned as a military medic to the same Kandahar outpost, the place he found Wilmot’s T-shirt fastened at the wall, lined in sweat and “Afghan moon dust.”
“It was kept as a memorial, just a little of an excellent success appeal,” Hunter, who lives in Thunder Bay, Ont., said on Radio West.
Hunter decided to take down the shirt and convey it again to Canada in 2009.
“For sentimental reasons, i assumed it could be better to bring it home than have it simply thrown into a burn barrel.”
Soon after returning house, Hunter reached out to Wilmot’s sister to peer if she sought after the shirt, however she declined and steered giving it to a pal of her late brother.
Discovering the suitable particular person
Hunter saved the blouse for 12 years until he learn Heneghan’s memoir. He reached out to the author in November 2021, even if he did not point out Wilmot’s T-shirt.
“i was just so moved via the whole ebook,” he said. “I got in touch with him and learned this is undoubtedly the appropriate individual to send the blouse to.”
My husband did not die at warfare however I’m still an army widow
“I never believed I have to be the permanent custodian of this shirt, however i think i’ve discovered that particular person in you,” Hunter wrote in a letter that he sent to Heneghan with the shirt.
“i hope you’ll be able to still feel a few Colin vibes in it.”
within the interview, Hunter reflected on the exchange. “all of us pay a beautiful top worth for our involvement in the military and losing friends like that,” he said.
“Figuring Out how necessary the relationship with Colin was once to Matthew, to be capable of supply him that blouse and give him a piece of it, to be fair, felt lovely good.”
Phil Hunter worked as an army medic on the Kandahar outpost that Wilmot was assigned to. He brought Wilmot’s T-blouse back to Canada in 2009. (Submitted by means of Phil Hunter)
Heneghan says Wilmot, in heaven, could be grateful for his or her reunion through the T-shirt.
“Colin was a horny humble guy,” he stated. “He’d be tickled via it, to be honest. He’d most likely have that goofy million-dollar smile.”
I virtually died within the Afghanistan battle, and for what?
Heneghan says he is making an allowance for donating Wilmot’s shirt and Hunter’s letter to the Edmonton Oilers hockey membership to honour his loved one’s legacy.
“they can have it and recognize not just how important the Oilers group used to be to him, however simply how essential he was to the rustic.”
A memorial stone commemorating Wilmot at a Canadian Military outpost in Afghanistan. (Submitted through Matthew Heneghan)
LISTEN | Matthew Heneghan on his friendship with Colin Wilmot
We speak to a Falkland author whose tribute to a chum killed in Afghanistan result in an surprising present SIXTEEN:32
PAY ATTENTION | Phil Hunter on why he stored Wilmot’s T-blouse and made up our minds to present it to Heneghan
An update on a touching tale we introduced you earlier this week. How a smartly-cherished, grubby Edmonton Oilers t-blouse changed into a therapeutic second for a former army medic in Falkland. 12:FIFTY ONE