As his mother wiped away tears in the audience, city councillors voted unanimously Sept. 25 to rename a Chelmsford ambulance facility in honour of a local medic killed in Afghanistan.
Pte. Andrew Miller was killed in June 2010 at the age of 21 when the armoured vehicle he was in struck a bomb. Another soldier was also killed and a third soldier was injured.
Miller was serving with 2 Field Ambulance and was based out of Petawawa, Ont.
His mother, Wendy, said city council’s decision to honour her son brought back the reality of the fact she’ll never see him again.
“He was so young,” she said. “They told me that he used to go to the gates of the base and ask for it to be opened so he could help the Afghan children on the other side.”
While previous motions to name facilities in honour of someone who has died generated much debate at the council table, the motion to honour Miller passed with ease.
“It’s an honour for this community to have his name on the ambulance station,” said Ward 3 Coun. Claude Berthiaume. “This is an important gesture.”
Ward 5 Coun. Ron Dupuis said it’s important to not only honour fallen soldiers, but also families who are left behind when a loved one is killed in the line of duty.
“We, as a community, must do our part to ensure Pte. Andrew Miller is not forgotten,” Dupuis said.
Miller was killed when he and other soldiers were travelling to help an Afghan family who had found a bomb strapped to their door. While on the way, the armoured vehicle he was in struck an improvised explosive device.
A report on the proposal said the idea received support from the Irish Regiment (Sudbury) Association, Sudbury Military Family Support Group, MP Glenn Thibeault and more than 130 signatures from Greater Sudbury paramedics and support staff.
“Additionally, unanimous support was received from the public via email,” the report said. “A total of 38 communications were received with heartfelt comments of support such as ‘Andrew’s kindness and spirit were felt by all who knew and served with him’; ‘I can’t think of anything better to commemorate someone so special’; ‘I believe this would be a great honour to Pte. Miller and those he served with and a permanent reminder to his sacrifice for our country.”
Miller went to St. Charles College and, according to the report, “demonstrated a keen interest in both the army and helping others. His room was decorated with camouflage netting, Canadian Forces recruiting posters and he created his own first aid kits using household products.”
His father, Raymond Ealdama, a sergeant with Greater Sudbury Police Services, served in Afghanistan in 2008 as part of the Greater Sudbury Police Services’ contribution to the Canadian Civilian Police training contingent in Kandahar City.
At age 17, Miller enlisted in the Canadian Forces as a medical technician, with aspirations of becoming a combat field medic.
“Andrew indicated he hoped to become a Greater Sudbury paramedic once he had completed his military commitment,” the report said. “The renaming of the Chelmsford Ambulance Station in memory of this remarkable young man who displayed courage and commitment to help those in need, is a fitting way to commemorate his life and everything he stood for.”