For the first time in 65 years, the name of a Kamloops soldier who died in combat has been added to the Battle Street cenotaph.
And, as far as Kamloops Museum and Archives supervisor Elisabeth Duckworth is aware, Master Cpl. Erin Doyle is also the first Afghanistan war veteran in Canada to be bestowed with such an honour.
The plaque carrying his name already rests among the more than 300 names of local soldiers who died in the two world wars. It will officially be unveiled during a public ceremony May 25 at 11 a.m.
Duckworth said Friday that MP Cathy McLeod, Mayor Peter Milobar and RCMP Supt. Yves Lacasse are among the dignitaries who will join Doyle’s family at the event.
“It’s a chance for the community to gather and acknowledge what Erin has done,” she said. “It’s been 65 years since the community has come together to honour one of our local soldiers who has died.”
Doyle, 32, was killed Aug. 11, 2008, when insurgents attacked a remote combat outpost in the Panjwaii district of Kandahar province. A member of the 3rd battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry based out of Edmonton, it was Doyle's third tour in Afghanistan.
Duckworth said the event won’t be treated like a funeral or Remembrance Day service, but something in between.
“It’s unique,” she said.
Doyle’s mom, Kathy Mitchell, is looking forward to the ceremony with a mix of pride and sadness. She told The Daily News there’s no way she could have done this four years ago, but enough time has now passed.
“We’re very proud of Erin,” said Mitchell, adding even Doyle’s 91-year-old grandmother will attend. “This is historical as well as personal.”
The Royal Canadian Legion approached Duckworth about adding Doyle’s name to the cenotaph. When Duckworth asked Doyle’s mother if this was OK, Mitchell immediately said yes.
Mitchell said 158 Canadians have died in Afghanistan, and she hopes more will receive the same honour as her son.
Duckworth said the addition of Doyle’s name makes the cenotaph a living moment, something the community should be proud of and respect.
A portion of Battle Street will be closed down during the ceremony, she said.
Doyle is the youngest of five children. He graduated from Westsyde secondary and took a heavy-duty mechanics course at the University College of the Cariboo, now Thompson Rivers University.
He had previously served with the city’s reserve regiment, the Rocky Mountain Rangers.