Lewisporte native Brad Jones has been in Afghanistan for eight months and has had a constant companion - two very important flags.
"On my previous tours I usually had my Newfie flag with me, like so many other Newfoundlander's do, and proudly display for all to see," he said. "This time I had somehow forgotten to take the flag with me, so I asked my parents if they could send me a replacement flag along with a Town (of Lewisporte) flag if possible."
When Mr. Jones, a 13-year military Aviation Systems Technician for Griffon helicopters, received his parcel just before Christmas, he was pleased to find the Newfoundland and Labrador flag, along with the Town of Lewisporte flag and lapel pins included. That's when Mr. Jones decided to capture a special moment with his fellow troops and the flags sent from home.
"It was a normal day at work for us here, but being Christmas morning I thought it would be the right time to take the picture and send home to my parents," said Mr. Jones. "I also made sure everyone received a pin and that they knew where it had come from.
"My entire crew was very thankful for the kind gesture that the Town had shown. It's nice to know there are people back home thinking of us and showing their support."
Mr. Jones said members of his crew, who are not even from Newfoundland and Labrador and didn't even know of the Town of Lewisporte before receiving their pin, still proudly display their souvenirs from Lewisporte, Newfoundland.
"I see some of the guys proudly displaying them on their kit bags," he said.
Lewisporte Mayor Brian Peckford said the Town was more then happy to honour the request of Mr. Jones' parents when they came looking for a flag to send overseas.
"The Town of Lewisporte was extremely pleased to be able to support Brad while he serves his country in a foreign land," said Mayor Peckford. "Not only are we proud of the fact that he is so unselfishly serving his country, but also that he cares so much about his community that he would take the time to have a picture taken with his troop mates with our flag and also to share Lewisporte with them."
After taking the photo Mr. Jones sent a copy to his parents for Christmas and his parents in turn later forwarded the photo to the Town Council. Mr. Jones' photos of himself with the Town of Lewisporte flag and his troopmates with both flags are currently hanging at the Lewisporte Town Hall, proudly on display for all to see.
"This is the community spirit that we as a council would like to see in all residents and I feel we are getting there," said Mayor Peckford. "Lewisporte has had several residents serve in Afghanistan and without getting into the political debate of the merits of this or other missions, we would like to strongly express our support for all of our past, present and future soldiers. I encourage residents to find out how you can support our troops."
Mayor Peckford said he would like to thank Mr. Jones, and all local soldiers, for being great ambassadors for Lewisporte.
"We will be honoured to hang this picture in the Town Hall for everyone to see how proud you are of Lewisporte and to show you how proud Lewisporte is of you," he said.
Being far from home with limited communication, Mr. Jones said it's nice to know the troops are thought of often back home.
"I have access to phone and internet to communicate with family and there is also a trailer set-up with web cams, although they have a 30 minute time limit, it's still nice to see friends and family back home," he said. "However, I would like to thank everyone back home for the support and I look forward to returning home to Lewisporte when I get back to Canada.
"I would also like to thank Christa Peckford and Lisa Freake along with their students for sending a generous parcel and the 617 Dambusters Squadron for also sending a generous parcel. Everyone's support has helped a lot."