Afghanistan soldier serves as face of Poppy Campaign tin

By Chad Feehan

Of the 13 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians killed in Afghanistan, Sgt. Donald Lucas is the first veteran to be honored on a Royal Canadian Legion poppy tin.

Lucas was killed in action during his fifth tour on April 8, 2007, while serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment west of Kandahar City in Afghanistan.

The Paradise resident left behind his wife Natasha Joy Lucas, and sons Matthew and Mackenzie Lucas.

In 2017, Octagon Pond Elementary school named its library the Sergeant Donald Lucas Commons in his honor.

The project to honor veterans killed in Afghanistan is helmed by veteran Gordon Wheadon of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 50 in Conception Bay South.

After Lucas, Wheadon wants every Newfoundland soldier killed in Afghanistan to be honored on a poppy tin to ensure the public’s memory of their sacrifice does not fade. He acknowledges that while veterans of the first and second world wars are rightfully recognized on a wide scale, he hears less talk about veterans of more recent conflicts.

“They are veterans who passed away, and I don't want what happened to them to fade away,” Wheadon said. “They deserve recognition just as much as the other veterans.”

Wheadon has spent the past year gathering the names of the veterans and the contact information for their families and isn’t stopping at Newfoundland and Labrador.

He wants Legions across Canada to follow suit, honoring Afghanistan veterans from their own areas on poppy tins.

“I’m hoping they will get on the bandwagon and keep these guys going,” Wheadon said.

Chad Feehan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News