For the first time in Canadian history, the Canadian Special Forces Command will have representation at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Remembrance Day, and the man selected to represent the command is White Rock native Master Cpl. Simon Hughes.
The Special Forces, which is a command of the Canadian Armed Forces, is responsible for all special operations that involve terrorism and threats to Canadians.
Hughes, a graduate of Earl Marriott Secondary, moved away from White Rock shortly after joining the military in 1998. Soon after, he was deployed to Bosnia, a first of many deployments over his 20-year career.
After the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S., he was part of a battalion deployed to Afghanistan in 2002 as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, which was orchestrated to dismantle the Al-Qaeda terrorist network and to remove the Taliban regime from power.
The Canadian Armed Forces contribution to the campaign, one of which Hughes was part of, was titled Operation Apollo. Operation Apollo marked Canada’s entry into the international mission.
Throughout his career, Hughes was deployed to several African countries and Central America. When deployed to conflict zones, Hughes said he didn’t think about the danger.
“I just thought about getting the job done,” Hughes told Peace Arch News in an interview this week. “You’re obviously in an environment with a threat, but you’ve got the best training in the world to prepare you for all of that stuff. You’ve got good people on both your left and right that are supporting you just like you’re supporting them.”
Discussions about mental health after returning home from deployment tends to resurface at this time of year. Hughes said the discussion is one that happens on a constant basis within the Canadian Armed Forces.
“You’re always talking to your buddy and making sure that they’re good. There’s always open conversation because we’ve all been through the same thing,” Hughes said. “You relate more to people that have been through the same thing that you have been through.”
Hughes held numerous positions in the armed forces before joining Special Forces Command (CANSOFCOM), where he currently works out of the Canadian Special Operations Training Centre in Ontario.
When Hughes learned there will be an opportunity for representation at the National War Memorial, he tossed his name in the hat.
“I approached my chain of command and said it’s something that I’m interested in doing. I thought it was important to bring awareness of CANSOFCOM to not only Canadian Armed Forces but to the general public,” he said. “For me, it’s a profound honour to be the first member from CANSOFCOM to be chosen to represent my command – especially on (the 100th) anniversary of the signing of the armistice.”