Dave Shortt says going to Afghanistan and helping out with members of the Canadian Forces there is just something he has to do.
The Parksville heavy duty mechanic is in Khandahar as of this printing, working for an Ottawa-based contracting firm tasked with helping the Forces dismantle machinery at their base. The Canadian military ended its combat mission in Afghanistan this month.
“I felt like it would be good to go over there,” Shortt said prior to leaving Canada over the weekend. “I want to help the guys out and show them they have a lot of support back home.”
Support back home is something Shortt himself has — from his family. Married and with eight children, Shortt was sure to talk things over with his wife first.
“You have to have your family behind you.”
But this isn’t the first time he has gone to out-of-the-way places to work. He has been a heavy duty mechanic for 30 years (and has worked in the Parksville area for the last eight years, currently at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks). His career has taken him many places — such as the North and other military bases in Canada — so he’s nonchalant about heading into a potentially dangerous place.
“Oh, there’s no danger,” Shortt said, noting he’ll be working in the Canadian base the whole time.
“It’s very safe there. It’s a military base, I’m sure it’s secure.”
While in Khandahar, Shortt will help dismantle or move some 2,500 pieces of machinery — brought there to support the 10-year mission in Afghanistan. He is expected to arrive on August 1, following an orientation session with the Department of National Defense in Ottawa.
He expects to be in Afghanistan for four months — two months on, then some time off, and then back for the final two months. Shortt said he figures he’ll be staying in the eight to 10-man tents that the soldiers stay in while on base. All in all, he said it’s a small price to pay for the work being done by Canada’s soldiers.
“You hear about what the troops are doing and I want to be able to see it in person,” Shortt explained, adding he thought that for him, this work is his way of showing support and letting the troops know that people care.
“We can complain a lot (in Canada,” he said, “but it’s what we do with those complaints that counts.”
While in Afghanistan, Shortt said he hopes to be able to offer the soldiers there some encouragement for the job that they do, on behalf of Canadians back home.