Thu | Mar 30, 2023

Farewell to fallen 'soldiers' in Haiti

Published:Saturday | January 23, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Daraine Luton from Haiti

THE ROYAL Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) troops yesterday said farewell to two of their colleagues who died during the massive earthquake which hit Haiti more than a week ago.

In a brief early morning ceremony at the Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, officials from the United Nations and Canada hailed deceased Assistant Commissioner of Police in the RCMP, Douglas Coates, and Sergeant Mark Gallanger as heroes. "Blessed are those that struggle for peace ... . There is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for another," Captain Eusebia Rios said as she prayed.

Members of the Jamaica Defence Force participated in the ceremony. The Canadian policemen died when the United Nations headquarters in which they worked crumbled due to the 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

100,000 killed

More than 100,000 persons were killed and countless others injured in the quake. The fallen Canadian men were eulogised as devoted persons whose contribution to the development of Haiti had been tremendous. Coates had just returned from leave and was resuming duties when the earthquake struck.

As the police stood to form the guard of honour yesterday morning, an aftershock - one of several since last Tuesday - rumbled through Haiti. Another tremor followed 15 minutes later, while the army vehicle carrying the remains of the men was preparing to take them through the camp site.

The aftershocks did not affect proceedings, neither did the constant sound of aircraft activity, which was a distraction. The bodies of the men were flown back to Canada, where they will be buried.