Quilt of Val­our: ‘This is bet­ter than a medal’

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY RICHARD MA­HONEY News Staff

Sara­jevo, 1993, at the height of the Bos­nian War, David Fitz­patrick was dug in be­hind en­emy lines.

The three-year siege of the city was at one of its dark­est points.

Through his scope, the mas­ter sharp­shooter could see atroc­i­ties be­ing car­ried out against civil­ians. “Women and chil­dren were be­ing maimed,” he says. “There were ba­bies...” He chokes back tears. He had the en­emy in his sights. It would be an easy kill. “I was an ex­pert at 800 me­tres. He was at 798 me­tres. I had a head shot. But I couldn’t get the green light.”

The rules of en­gage­ment set out un­der the Geneva Con­ven­tion forced him to ease off the trig­ger.

As a mem­ber of the United Na­tions Pro­tec­tion Force, the Alexan­dria res­i­dent con­stantly strug­gled with the frus­trat­ing lim­i­ta­tions placed on the peace­keep­ers.

But he was fair game dur­ing the fight­ing among Bos­ni­ans, Serbs and Mus­lims.

Work­ing un­der­cover to gather in­tel­li­gence, he mirac­u­lously sur­vived a head shot taken by an en­emy sniper. A bul­let went through his hel­met, miss­ing his left ear by mil­lime­tres, and tore through a UN flag be­hind him. “I was out cold. The sniper was 700 me­tres away. I am alive be­cause the wind must have taken the bul­let slightly to the right of my head,” Mr. Fitz­patrick re­calls.

He re­counted some of the horrors he ex­pe­ri­enced last Thurs­day at the Royal Cana­dian Legion branch in Alexan­dria, where he re­ceived a Quilt of Val­our.

“That was one of the dark­est times of our lives,” he says. “This makes me think of those hor­rific times, of those seven long months be­hind en­emy lines,” says Mr. Fitz­patrick as he re­ceives the quilt from Quilts of Val­our -Canada So­ci­ety rep­re­sen­ta­tive Bon­nie Frap­pier.

“Wow! This is bet­ter than a medal of hon­our,” he de­clares. Mr. Fitz­patrick later adds, he ac­cepts the hon­our “on be­half of all Cana­di­ans, one na­tion, one peo­ple, for coun­try.”

Mrs. Frap­pier, who lives in Mon­tréal, made the pre­sen­ta­tion on be­half of the On­tario di­vi­sion of Quilts of Val­our, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that sup­ports in­jured Cana­dian Armed Forces mem­bers with quilts of com­fort.

Mr. Fitz­patrick, who has openly spo­ken about the post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der he lives with, is one of about 13,000 cur­rent and former mil­i­tary per­son­nel to be pre­sented with the quilt.

“Be­cause I was part of a top se­cret op­er­a­tion, we did not get a lot of recog­ni­tion,” ob­serves Mr. Fitz­patrick, who served from 1984 to 2002.

“I ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery­thing I have,” he says.

Af­ter she gives Mr. Fitz­patrick a hug, Mrs. Frap­pier reads from the card ac­com­pa­ny­ing the com­forter. The mes­sage reads “in recog­ni­tion of your ser­vice and sac­ri­fice for Canada and all Cana­di­ans, it is a priv­i­lege to hon­our and com­fort you. Though we do not know the depth of your sac­ri­fice to pro­tect and de­fend our free­dom we thank you. As a ges­ture of grat­i­tude from a grate­ful na­tion, we present you with this Quilt of Val­our.”

RICHARD MA­HONEY PHOTO

COM­FORT FOR A WOUNDED WAR­RIOR: David Fitz­patrick, son Grif­fin and Bon­nie Frap­pier ad­mire the log cabin de­sign of the Quilt of Val­our that was given to Mr. Fitz­patrick Thurs­day at the Royal Cana­dian Legion hall in Alexan­dria.

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