Home / Breaking News Headlines / Canadian Jon Snyder helped save 50 Afghan recruits from the Taliban. Three days later, he died

Canadian Jon Snyder helped save 50 Afghan recruits from the Taliban. Three days later, he died

Bullets pelted the low dust wall above Capt. Jonathan Snyder’s head, showering him and the Afghan troops round him in mud.

Taliban device weapons rattled within the distance, spraying the opposite aspect of the wall with lead.

“Inform them to shoot again!” Jon yelled to the Afghan Nationwide Military (ANA) commander subsequent to him. The person simply stared again, frozen within the face of his first main combat. His 55 ANA troops had been covered up alongside the low dust wall, looking forward to orders in what was once their first fight venture underneath the Canadians’ steerage.

They weren’t intended to be ducking bullets in a stinking ditch between two farmer’s fields, looking forward to the Taliban to enclose them and gun all of them down. They had been intended to be studying find out how to march.

Jon pressed his again towards the wall and listened for a damage within the Taliban gunfire.

He jumped up on the first damage in hearth and began capturing again, peppering one of the crucial Taliban-held compounds around the box with bullets. He dropped to his abdominal a 2nd later, simply as gunfire minimize the air the place he’d been status.

Jon’s staff of 4 Canadian infantrymen adopted his lead, peaking over the wall to fireplace a couple of photographs, then ducking and shifting a couple of steps alongside the wall earlier than firing once more.

“Combat again!” Jon instructed the ANA troops another time.

They didn’t perceive his phrases, however they were given the message. They began capturing again, two and 3 at a time, leaping up and firing wildly earlier than ducking again at the back of the metre-high wall.

The Taliban gunfire eased off, and unexpectedly the Canadians and the Afghans felt like they’d a possibility.

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Months later, Jon and his Canadian troops could be honoured at Rideau Corridor for appearing the Afghans find out how to battle off the Taliban and get away the ambush, whilst ensuring that no person was once left at the back of.

“With little probability of survival, they uncovered themselves to nice peril and retaliated towards the enemy whilst encouraging the Afghan infantrymen to do the similar,” the Governor Basic’s workplace mentioned in its reputable account of that combat.

Cpl. Cary Baker, Cpl. Steven Bancarz and Capt. Robert Peel won the Canadian Medal of Army Valour for his or her efforts that day, whilst Cpl. Donovan Ball and Capt. Snyder had been awarded the Famous person of Army Valour — the best honour passed out all over the Afghan Battle. Ball risked enemy hearth to stay their get away path open, whilst Snyder coached the Afghan commander thru a just about unwinnable state of affairs.

However Jon wasn’t there to obtain his medal. The 26-year-old died 3 nights after the ambush, when he fell into an unmarked properly all over an evening patrol in southeastern Afghanistan.

A memorial for Jonathan Snyder is shown in Langley, B.C., on Nov. 11, 2013.

A memorial for Jonathan Snyder is proven in Langley, B.C., on Nov. 11, 2013.

Dale Friesen/Fb

Jon’s circle of relatives and previous comrades-in-arms are remembering him for his management, his willpower and his decency this Remembrance Day, as they mark the 10th anniversary of his dying in Afghanistan.

Jon’s father David, a former reservist, says he had misgivings concerning the Afghan Battle, however he’d sought after to stay the ones to himself till after his son was once accomplished serving.

“Battle is so silly,” mentioned David Snyder in a telephone interview from Penticton, B.C. “However infrequently, you must move.”

Snyder says his son was once a tight, in style and fiercely unbiased guy who at all times handled others with admire. “He wasn’t hung up or green with envy,” Snyder mentioned.

WATCH BELOW: Penticton scholars mark Remembrance Day in 2015

Bancarz described Jon as a “herbal chief” who didn’t lord his talent over others. “He wasn’t cocky, he wasn’t egotistical,” Bancarz mentioned. “He was once simply excellent at it.”

Peel mentioned Jon was once an excellent soldier who would possibly have sooner or later change into a most sensible commander within the Canadian Forces. “Everybody seemed him as one of the crucial guys who was once going to move the entire manner,” Peel mentioned.

Baker recollects Jon as any individual who was once in point of fact devoted to being a soldier.

“It’s a tragic factor, however the man died doing what he beloved to do.”

A B.C. boy who “wasn’t intimidated” via bullies

Jonathan Sutherland Snyder was once born Dec. 20, 1981, and raised on his circle of relatives’s ranch in Penticton, B.C., in conjunction with his brother Adam, who was once a couple of years older. Their father David taught English at Penticton Prime Faculty and their mom, Anne, was once an area reporter.

Jon was once an unbiased and assured boy who knew from a tender age that he sought after to be within the army. He joined the cadets at age 12 and deliberate to change into an officer after college.

He pursued a variety of pursuits as a kid, from snowboarding and basketball to making a song and performing on level.

“He had a self belief that he won early from appearing in musical theatre,” Jon’s dad, David, mentioned in a telephone interview from his house in Penticton. “He wasn’t intimidated.”

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Jon additionally had the arrogance to get up for his ideals when he noticed one thing unsuitable. At age 13, he intervened to forestall an older child from bullying a more youthful boy at cadet camp in Valcartier, Que.

“That’s harassment,” Jon instructed the bully.

The older cadet became on Jon and pinned him towards the wall, announcing: “I’ll inform you what harassment is.”

Jon reported the incident to his oldsters and it were given again to the regional cadet officer. Jon’s dad says the bully was once “accosted” inside of 24 hours, and the boy didn’t trouble any person once more.

‘I’ve numerous hope for this nation’

Jon joined the Canadian Forces at age 18 throughout the Common Officer Coaching Plan, which allowed him to pursue a post-secondary training whilst coaching to change into an officer. He graduated from the College of Victoria in 2003 with a big in English and a minor in sociology, then joined the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Gentle Infantry in Edmonton as a lieutenant.

Jon deployed to Afghanistan for his first excursion of accountability in February 2006. He inspired the Canadian brass on the Combat of Panjwaii in March, and was once promoted to captain a little while later.

In a 2006 interview with the Canadian Press, Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie steered Snyder had the heart and intelligence to sooner or later prevail him as head of the Canadian military. Leslie is now parliamentary secretary to the Minister of International Affairs.

Capt. Jonathan Snyder is shown in Afghanistan.

Capt. Jonathan Snyder is proven in Afghanistan.

Steven Horsby/Fb

Jon beloved serving in Afghanistan, and downplayed the risks of the process in conversations together with his oldsters.

“I’ve numerous hope for this nation,” he instructed his oldsters in a 2006 electronic mail.

“Once I communicate to the locals, 99 according to cent of them are bored with the battle and simply wish to reside an ordinary lifestyles. Because of this we’re right here, to offer safety within the house and toughen the brand new govt in order that sooner or later, this nation can toughen itself.”

Buried in the midst of that electronic mail was once an admission: Jon had survived an improvised explosive tool that struck his armoured car on April 7.

“Don’t fear, everybody walked clear of the assault with out harm,” he wrote, including: “The enjoy has taught me some precious courses that can stay me more secure sooner or later.”

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Jon’s excursion lasted 8 months, and then he returned to Canada and acquired a apartment in Edmonton together with his then-girlfriend, Megan. The 2 were buddies since Grade five and become a pair in highschool.

The Canadian Dying Race and a go back to Afghanistan

Jon spent the summer time of 2007 dwelling with Megan in Edmonton and coaching with a number of infantrymen within the house, together with Robert Peel.

“He was once the entire bundle,” Capt. Peel mentioned. “He was once extraordinarily well-read, extraordinarily have compatibility, had a phenomenal working out of the battlespace and his other people, and simply oozed management.”

Jon and Peel determined to look how difficult they had been via tackling the grueling Canadian Dying Race – a 125-kilometre ultra-marathon throughout the Rocky Mountains. Maximum contestants run the race as a part of a five-man relay, however Jon and Peel had been made up our minds to each and every run the race solo.

WATCH BELOW: What it’s love to win the Canadian Dying Race

Rob says spotters pulled him out of the race on the 100-kilometre mark, “as a result of my eyes weren’t dilating anymore.”

However Jon simply stored working. “Jon completed the race without a issues in any respect — aside from that he virtually killed himself with acute renal failure,” Peel mentioned.

Cpl. Baker says Jon’s efficiency received him numerous admire amongst his fellow infantrymen. “He put himself within the clinic voluntarily, attempting to do this race himself,” Baker mentioned. “The fellow didn’t have an oz. of give up in him.”

Jon proposed to Megan on Christmas Eve in Costa Rica, and the 2 agreed to set their wedding ceremony date for three hundred and sixty five days later, December 2008 in Jamaica.

Jon volunteered for a 2nd Afghan excursion earlier than the marriage: an eight-month coaching venture with the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Group, starting in February 2008. He and his staff of 4 Canadians would educate teams of 100 Afghan troops to battle the Taliban.

Jonathan Snyder, centre, is shown in Afghanistan in this photo from 2008.

Jonathan Snyder, centre, is proven in Afghanistan on this picture from 2008.

Derek McLagan/Fb

Jon spent 4 months coaching his first team of recruits earlier than he was once circled out to paintings with a brand new team in Afghanistan’s risky Zharey district in past due Might.

Jon was once additionally separated from his authentic squad and assigned 4 transient infantrymen to command: Capt. Robert Peel and Corporals Baker, Bancarz and Ball. He knew Peel from their exercise classes in 2007, however he didn’t know the others really well.


Jon and his new squad had been despatched out on June four, 2008, to mentor an organization of Afghan military recruits thru a big operation in southeastern Afghanistan. They left their base at 2:30 a.m. and marched south on a venture to test a number of former Taliban weapon caches that had been considered empty.

In this Dec. 4, 2007 file photo, Canadian troops are shown in the Sangasar region near where Jonathan Snyder’s unit was ambushed.

On this Dec. four, 2007 record picture, Canadian troops are proven within the Sangasar area close to the place Jonathan Snyder’s unit was once ambushed.

he Canadian Press Pictures/Louie Palu

That they had simply stopped between two farmers’ fields close to their first function once they got here underneath hearth. The Taliban were looking forward to them in a cluster of within reach constructions.

The Afghans and Canadians took duvet at the west aspect of a low dust wall that secure them from device gun hearth to the east, northeast and south. They feared the Taliban would narrow them down in the event that they retreated throughout a box to the west, so they’d no selection however to hunker down at the back of the wall and determine find out how to damage the ambush.

“They stunning a lot had us,” Baker mentioned.

“They got here very on the subject of utterly encircling us.”

However Jon didn’t panic. As a substitute, he despatched Peel and Baker to battle from a trench-like highway on the south finish of the wall, and later dispatched Ball and Bancarz to offer protection to their get away path on the north finish. He additionally refused to let the Afghans abandon two infantrymen who had been significantly injured all over the battle.

Peel says Jon expertly coordinated their defence thru earpiece radios, issuing orders and critical updates all the way through the combat.

“The entire time Jon was once simply chatting with us … on this in reality calm, cool voice,” Peel mentioned. “The extra wired he were given, the calmer his voice were given.”

In this Dec. 4, 2007 file photo, a Canadian soldier with a machine gun covers a line of advance during an operation in the Zharey-Panjwaii area where Canadian troops were later ambushed.

On this Dec. four, 2007 record picture, a Canadian soldier with a device gun covers a line of advance all over an operation within the Zharey-Panjwaii house the place Canadian troops had been later ambushed.

The Canadian Press Pictures/Louie Palu

The ambush lasted just about two hours, and ended when Cpl. Ball made touch with reinforcements on the north finish of the wall. Jon ordered the retreat and the Afghan and Canadian troops slowly sponsored out of the ambush.

Peel and Baker stumbled throughout two injured Afghan infantrymen as they introduced up the rear. They instructed Jon and he despatched a number of extra ANA troops again to hold their injured males.

“It was once arranged chaos,” Baker mentioned. He described the Afghan infantrymen as “about as inexperienced as they get.”

Peel mentioned the Afghan leaders had been obviously green, however one of the Afghan recruits had been spectacular of their first combat.

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The Canadian and Afghan troops put the 2 wounded males on helicopters and marched again to their base at Howz-e-Madad, southwest of Kandahar, after the combat. The Taliban pressured them alongside the way in which however did not mount any other full-scale attack. Baker, Bancarz and Peel say they’re nonetheless no longer positive what number of Taliban they had been preventing that day, however it will were as many as 60 well-trained insurgents.

All of them took a second again on the base to understand simply how fortunate they’d been to flee the battle.

“It was once most likely about as dangerous because it will get, and if it wasn’t for Jon’s management and working out of what was once happening, after which all 5 folks operating as a staff to get out of there, it most likely will have ended up so much worse,” Peel mentioned.

WATCH BELOW: Canada honours fallen infantrymen in ‘No Stone Left By myself’ ceremonies

An coincidence on patrol

3 days later, Jon and a number of other different infantrymen had been on a foot patrol after darkish, with just a skinny crescent of moon to mild their manner.

They had been navigating thru a grape box with the assistance of their evening imaginative and prescient cameras, which duvet one eye and depict the arena in inexperienced mild and shadow. Night time imaginative and prescient cameras magnify mild however in addition they mess together with your intensity belief, making it exhausting to look your toes or steer clear of small stumbling blocks at the flooring. It was once in particular darkish that evening, and the sphere was once stuffed with shadows.

A Canadian Forces soldier is shown with a night-vision camera attached to his helmet before a patrol in Panjwaii, Kandahar, Afghanistan on Apr. 18, 2010.

A Canadian Forces soldier is proven with a night-vision digicam connected to his helmet earlier than a patrol in Panjwaii, Kandahar, Afghanistan on Apr. 18, 2010.

The Canadian Press/Louie Palu

Snyder by no means noticed the shadow that may kill him — an unmarked, open properly known as a kariz, which farmers use to irrigate their fields. All these wells are exposed holes sufficiently big to drop a bucket into — not anything in any respect like an ordinary water properly.

Jon fell into the kariz and plummeted greater than 20 metres to the ground, into an underground reservoir, someday after nine p.m. that evening.

The warriors above flooring attempted to get him out, however the hollow was once too deep and the bottom round it was once too cushy.

Baker says Jon kicked off his heavy boots and attempted to shrug off the just about 45 kilograms of drugs that threatened to pull him down.

“He fought for 4 or 5 hours,” Baker mentioned. “He fought the entire time.”

Engineers, rescue crews and medics confirmed up and ultimately pulled Jon from the water, subconscious, someday after middle of the night on June eight. They rushed him via helicopter to Kandahar Airfield, the place he was once pronounced useless upon arrival.

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“It was once devastating,” mentioned Peel, who was once assigned to take over Jon’s unit day after today. “Because the years have long past via it’s most likely one of the crucial issues I’ve struggled with essentially the most — the survivor’s guilt of all of it.”

Bancarz says Jon’s dying got here as a surprise to everybody at the base. “It doesn’t topic in case you get vapourized via an IED, riddled with bullets or fall in a properly,” he mentioned. “It’s nonetheless exhausting, guy. It’s nonetheless exhausting.”

The Snyder circle of relatives realized about Jon’s coincidence day after today. A military colonel confirmed as much as inform Megan about it, and he or she broke the inside track to Jon’s dad, David, via telephone.

“I don’t know if I’ve been the similar since,” David mentioned.

Remembering Jon

The Canadian Forces flew Jon’s frame again to Trenton, Ont., on June 11, and buried him at Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa on June 16. He was once the 85th Canadian soldier killed within the struggle.

8 months later, Jon’s fiancée Megan authorised his Famous person of Army Valour from then-governor Basic Michaelle Jean. Bancarz, Baker, Peel and Ball had been additionally there to simply accept their medals within the rite at Rideau Corridor.

Governor General Michaelle Jean speaks with Megan Leigh Stewart as she presents her with the Star of Military Valour to her presented posthumously to her common-law husband, Capt. Jonathan Snyder, during a ceremony at Rideau Hall Friday, Feb. 13, 2009.

Governor Basic Michaelle Jean speaks with Megan Leigh Stewart as she gifts her with the Famous person of Army Valour to her introduced posthumously to her common-law husband, Capt. Jonathan Snyder, all over a rite at Rideau Corridor Friday, Feb. 13, 2009.


Jon’s former comrades say they’ve blended emotions concerning the medals they earned from that ambush.

Baker attempted to show the medal down, however he’s grown to simply accept it through the years. “I noticed I may use it to turn how superior Jon was once,” he mentioned.

Jonathan Snyder’s mother reflects on the Afghan War

“It’s an amazing honour and I’m in reality happy with it and happy with the blokes I used to be with that day, however I fight with it infrequently,” Peel mentioned.

Jon’s mom Anne, who lives in Nova Scotia, flew again to Penticton to be the Silver Move mom for the Remembrance Day carrier in 2013. The city has arrange a number of tributes for her son, together with a memorial plaque. The Snyders additionally introduced a scholarship in his identify on the native highschool.

David and Dorothy Anne Snyder are shown participating in a National Day of Honour ceremony at a Canadian Forces base in Esquimalt, B.C., on May 9, 2014.

David and Dorothy Anne Snyder are proven taking part in a Nationwide Day of Honour rite at a Canadian Forces base in Esquimalt, B.C., on Might nine, 2014.


David says his son would wish to be remembered as a excellent guy and soldier. He wouldn’t wish to be lionized as a larger-than-life “hero.”

Baker says Jon lived his dream of being a soldier, and that’s how he’d most likely wish to be remembered.

“We’re all there as a result of we volunteered to do it, and Jon was once the epitome of that,” Baker mentioned.

“That man may actually do anything else he sought after together with his lifestyles, and that’s what he selected. He was once most likely one of the crucial perfect I’ve ever observed do it.”

Peel says he used to take a look at Remembrance Day as a time to pay tribute to veterans from the First and 2d Global Battle — a suite of far-off names to honour from any individual else’s struggle.

“The lack of Jon in Afghanistan made Remembrance Day very actual for me,” he mentioned.

“For me, annually, Remembrance Day is set remembering Jon Snyder.”

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