Faces not forgotten

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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Published on October 26, 2011

Members of the various uniformed services parade along with the procession to the Immaculate Conception Church.

Published on October 26, 2011

Portraits of Honour

Published on October 26, 2011

Portraits of Honour

Published on October 26, 2011

Members of the various uniformed services parade along with the procession to the Immaculate Conception Church.

Published on October 26, 2011

Portraits of Honour

Published on October 26, 2011

Brig. Gen. Anthony Stack addresses the congregation at the Immaculate Conception Church where a brief service was held in Cpl. Jamie Murphy’s memory prior to the unveiling of the mural to the family and public. — Photos by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Published on October 26, 2011

Portraits of Honour

Published on October 26, 2011

Portraits of Honour

Published on October 26, 2011

Portraits of Honour

Published on October 26, 2011

Members of the various uniformed services parade along with the procession to the Immaculate Conception Church.

Published on October 26, 2011

Members of the various uniformed services parade along with the procession to the Immaculate Conception Church.

Published on October 26, 2011

Portraits of Honour

Published on October 26, 2011

Cpl. Jamie Murphy’s mother Alice Murphy and father Norman Murphy head into the Immaculate Conception Church in Conception Harbour Tuesday for a brief service in his memory before the mural opened for viewing. In December 2008, mural artist Dave Sopha began painting an average of 16 hours a day, seven days a week. The mural, which is 10 feet tall and stretches 40 feet, was a joint project of Sopha, a former military member and Kin Canada and the Kin Canada Foundation. Included in the mural are portraits of native sons of Newfoundland and Labrador who paid the ultimate sacrifice serving their country overseas.

Published on October 26, 2011

Portraits of Honour

As Norman Murphy walked away from the mural depicting the faces of 157 Canadians who have been killed in the Afghanistan war since 2003, including his own son, tears could be seen streaming down his face.

His wife, Alice Murphy, lingered a little longer as she examined the space devoted to Cpl. Jamie Murphy. “He was a wonderful boy,” she said of her son, finding it hard to say much more on what remains an emotional subject for her family.

A suicide bomber in Afghanistan triggered an explosive device on Jan. 27, 2004, killing Murphy and wounding three others. The member of the Royal Canadian Regiment was 26 years old.

On Tuesday, the Portraits of Honour mural visited Murphy’s hometown of Conception Harbour.

Approximately 150 people gathered inside St. Anne's Church for a short service, after which people moved outside for a public viewing of the mural, which was painted by Dave Sopha.

“We have a military that doesn’t just protect us,” he said, speaking before the assembled audience inside the church.

“They protect the people of other countries, and are doing an absolutely fantastic job.”

His creation depicts the face of every soldier, sailor and air crew member who died as a result of the war in Afghanistan, including from this province: Cpl. Brian Pinksen, Capt. Frank Paul, Cpl. Kenneth O’Quinn, Pte. Justin Peter Jones, Cpl. Stephan Frederick Bouzane, Sgt. Donald Lucas, Pte. Kevin Vincent Kennedy, Sgt. Craig Paul Gillam, warrant officer Richard Francis Nolan, and Sgt. Vaughan Ingram.

Sgt. Kevin Dunne, who will soon retire from the Canadian military due to injuries sustained in 2008, knew 42 of the faces shown in the mural.

The Mount Pearl native spent seven months in Afghanistan.

“There’s 42 of my friends on this wall,” he told The Telegram moments after viewing the mural. “It’s very surreal and hard, because, just looking at the faces on the wall, they’re so realistic. While you’re over there in theatre, you don’t get the time to mourn for these men and friends that you’ve lost.”

Murphy’s brother and two sisters were also on hand to view the mural. Norma Murphy said her brother meant a lot to the family.

“He died as one of Canada’s heroes, but he is always our hero,” she said. “Even though it’s almost been eight years since he’s been gone, days like this make it seem like yesterday.”

Brig.-Gen. Anthony Stack, deputy commander of Land Force Atlantic Area for the Canadian Forces, recalled his time teaching Murphy at Roncalli Central High.

“Murph was a fine young gentleman, I remember, as a student at Roncalli when I taught him. Loved by his friends and just a wonderful human being. It’s hard for me to reconcile my memory of that happy-go-lucky, buoyant young lad with the soldier who was eventually part of the rotating regiment battle group in Kabul back in 2003 and 2004.”

Prior to serving in Afghanistan, Murphy did a tour of duty in Kosovo. Stack said his sacrifice helped efforts to improve living conditions for the people of Afghanistan.

“We just can’t sit back when people are in need. We have to help our neighbours. Sometimes the people in Afghanistan are portrayed as terrorists, but I can tell you from firsthand experience that they’re human beings just like you and I. They want what’s best for their families, they want to move forward, nobody wants the ugliness of war, and it’s soldiers like Jamie Murphy that are going to make that possible.”

The Portraits of Honour mural was scheduled to visit Conception Bay South late Tuesday afternoon before making its way to St. John’s today and Mount Pearl on Thursday. Funds raised by its tour will go towards programs and charities that serve Canadian Forces members and their families.

 

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TeleAndrew

Organizations: Royal Canadian Regiment, Immaculate Conception Church, Canadian Forces Roncalli

Geographic location: Afghanistan, Mount Pearl, Canada Land Force Atlantic Area Kabul Kosovo

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  • Edward Dalton
    October 26, 2011 - 13:26

    Just a correction to the story. The church in Conception Harbour is St. Anne's the church in the neighbouring communicty of Colliers is the church of the Immaculate Conception.