Ponoka soldier returns from Afghanistan

After eight months of serving our country, making a difference and saving lives, Marty Gratrix has returned from Afghanistan.
Gratrix, who has been in the Canadian army for nine years, went on his first overseas mission in 2004/2005 where he did mine disposal, route clearance and patrolling. 

  • Nov. 26, 2008 3:00 p.m.

At 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 18

By Kim Hutchison

Staff Reporter:

After eight months of serving our country, making a difference and saving lives, Marty Gratrix has returned from Afghanistan.

Gratrix, who has been in the Canadian army for nine years, went on his first overseas mission in 2004/2005 where he did mine disposal, route clearance and patrolling. 

Ten months ago he returned and worked as a member of an improvised explosive device disposal (IEDD) team.

To help better understand what Gratrix’s workday involved, an IED is a homemade device usually consisting of an initiation system or fuse, explosive fill, a detonator, a power supply for the detonator and a container. It’s designed to cause death by using explosives alone or in combination with toxic chemicals, biological toxins, or radiological material. It is unique because its builder improvises with available materials meaning it can be produced in various sizes, functioning methods, containers and delivery methods.

One category of IED’s is the package type. These can be thrown from overpasses, emplaced in potholes covered with dirt, planted along alternate supply routes targeting vehicles, command detonated either by wire, or remote device and time-delayed triggered, which can be detonated by a cordless phone from a car. The two other categories are vehicle-borne and suicide IED’s.

The amount of these devices and their range of sophistication make them difficult to detect and diffuse. They are one of the biggest threats facing coalition forces on the battlefields of Afghanistan and are responsible for the greatest numbers of soldier injuries and fatalities.

“You never know what you’re going to encounter.

Continued on Page A3

You do what you have to and hope it [the device] doesn’t set off,” said the modest Gratrix who described his first mission in Afghanistan as “nothing even close to this one.”

“Knowing your saving Canadian lives and the lives of the locals makes it worth the risk.”

What does Gratrix think about the possibility troops pulling out in the year 2011?

“If the Afghanistan National Army is built to the point where it can sustain operations, we should pull out. If not, Canada should stay longer. I’m sure Canadian military leadership will want to leave once the mission in complete,” he said.

Whether or not he will return for a third mission in the future he can’t yet say. One doesn’t know whether he or she will be headed overseas until six to eight months prior to deployment.

Gratrix has been home for two months and said it feels to great to back. On Nov 18. he went to the Ponoka County Council office to receive a belt buckle in recognition of his diligently serving our country and representing our community.

“I’ve never heard of anyone showing as much support as Ponoka,” Gratrex told the Ponoka County Council. “When you’re over there, it makes a difference to know people back home care.”

That we most certainly do.

Congratulations on your success and safe return!

Just Posted

Ponoka mayor & council takes on province for recreation funding

Mayor Rick Bonnett wants school requisition for three years

Ponoka County on the hook for rubber tire shredder

Cost of large shredder may yet fall completely on county as problems arise

Ponoka council approved a cannabis retail sales bylaw

Along with retail sales, the cannabis consumption bylaw was approved

Ponoka County approves Morningside ASP, MDP and North West decision is deferred

More information on protecting existing CFOs necessary prior to North West ASP approval

Ponoka parent speaks of gratitude during Legion’s candlelight vigil

The Ponoka Legion’s special candlelight vigil at the cemetery is a reminder of past sacrifices

VIDEO: First legal cannabis purchases as midnight strikes in eastern Canada

Newfoundland and Labrador was the first province to kick off the sale of cannabis, just after midnight local time

U.S. pot firm urges Trump to deny Canadian producers ‘competitive advantage’

The challenge for U.S. firms lies in the fact that while recreational cannabis is legal in nine states and medicinal pot in 22 others, it remains illegal under federal law

How rules for inmate segregation in Canada will change under Bill C-83

Federal government proposing changes to rules around inmates in federal correctional institutions

Canada Post union issues strike notice; rotating strikes could begin Monday

Union says rotating strikes will begin if agreements aren’t reached with bargaining units

Ponoka family remembers fallen WWI soldier

A Ponoka soldier killed in action in the Great War is remembered

Remember When: Ponoka Stampede 1962 champs

This historic photo shows the champions of the Central Alberta Stampede Association from 1962

Annual Texas Longhorn show and sale draws local and international attention

ATLA part of a growing Canadian market for Texas Longhorn genetics

$500,000 goal well within reach for Ponoka’s Festival of Trees

Annual fundraiser just under $137,000 from attaining its long-term goal for the Ponoka hospital

Killer-rapist Paul Bernardo set for parole bid after 25 years in prison

Bernardo’s parole hearing at the Bath Institution is expected to attract numerous observers

Most Read