A local hero, friend and co-worker for many in Calgary was identified yesterday as the 83rd Canadian killed in Afghanistan.
Calgary-born Calgary EMS paramedic 36-year-old Cpl. Michael Starker, a reservist with the Edmonton-based 15 Field Ambulance reserve, was killed yesterday during an ambush in Afghanistan.
According to EMS Chief Tom Sampson, Starker was a Platoon ‘C’ paramedic with the Canadian military for three years and just began his second tour in Afghanistan in December of 2007 with another medic.
He was a well-liked paramedic whose death will have a far-reaching effect, Sampson said.
“We have a ‘saying’ here when people leave us before their time, it’s our opinion the sun went down while it is still day,” Sampson said, choking back tears. “No doubt this is a significant loss to EMS, to the City of Calgary and the entire community.”
Starker’s friends and co-workers described him as a great stand up guy with a heart of gold who would help anyone, which is what he was doing in Afghanistan when he was killed.
“He was one of those people who wanted to help others. He certainly did that here … I think he went to help there and it’s such a shame he died trying to help.”
Starker and another yet unidentified soldier who was wounded were on a foot patrol in the Pashul region of Afghanistan’s Zhari district when the attack occurred around 11:45 a.m. local time. Both soldiers were airlifted to hospital at Kandahar airfield where Starker was pronounced dead.
Lt.-Col. Roger Scott, Commanding Officer of the 15 Field Ambulance released a statement describing Starker’s commitment to helping others.
“He volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan out of a profound sense that he could make a difference to the people of that country,” he said, adding their thoughts are prayers are with the family at this difficult time.
Starker was married without children and at this time Sampson has asked for the media and public to respect the family’s privacy until they are ready to talk.
Cpl. Peter Fuerbringer of the Mewata Armoury spoke with the family yesterday and said they weren’t ready yet to release an official statement.
- with files from Reuters