Bonnyville's Master Corporal Paul Rachynski received a Medal of Military Valour at a ceremony in Ottawa Nov. 2 for his work in Afghanistan in 2008.
While patrolling in the Zhari district on May 6, 2008, a Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team was ambushed. Rachynski's section managed to neutralize the enemy threat, but the lead section came under fire.
“I was near the ambush, but wasn't in it,” he describes. “And then once I realized that there was actually people being shot and going down, I ran into where the actual fire was, and then just brought some fresh bodies to help carry out the casualty and then help the guys that were doing the fighting withdrawal, fight their way out.”
The following is an excerpt from his medal citation:
“Master Corporal Rachynski selflessly led both Canadian and Afghan soldiers through heavy insurgent fire to rejoin his besieged patrol. Master Corporal Rachynski's determination and calm under fire allowed his patrol to evacuate the wounded and execute a fighting withdrawal with no further casualties.”
Rachynski's family attended the ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. His mother Charlene said she was very excited about his award, however describes being the mother of a soldier at war as “very hard.”
Rachynski had been on a tour before this one, from Feb-Aug 2006, and has been on another since his 2008 tour, from Oct 2009 – June 2010. He says he would go on another tour if possible.
After three tours, Rachynksi has seen changes in Afghanistan. During his first tour he describes the area he was stationed in as “chaotic” with no structure, government or security.
In 2008, with the task to bring security to the people working on reconstruction projects, he saw improvement to the Afghan Army and police force.
“Almost night and day difference between the two tours,” he said of the change.
During his last tour, Rachynski lived with locals to bring security to a village, guide them in a better direction, and to impose “a small democracy,” and educate them in why they don't need to rely on insurgents, he explained.
When asked why he joined the military, he replies: “By now, honestly, I don't really remember. I thought it was a good idea at the time.”
But on a more serious note, he says, “I've always been intrigued with the military life and how they operate, and more or less what the job entails. So it's definitely an exciting job.”
Rachynski spent a year in college and earned a degree in graphic arts, and explained how he “didn't really like that too much,” calling his career in the military more “appealing.”