Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Travels of the Blue Monkey

by: Captain Marie-Noelle Blanchet, Canadian Public Affairs Officer

Sometime you have to dig deep to find the most amazing stories. By talking with people and simply taking a break from the "war", and by simply sitting and listening to what they have to say, you are able to share a small part of their experiences and their traditions. As a public affairs officer, I have to admit that I love to tell stories of the people I meet. In fact, telling the Canadian Forces Story is my primary mission. But the ones I like the most are the human stories that comes from the Soldiers themselves, like the Blue Monkey Story. The story is about a cute little stuffed animal that was once given to a soldier by an 8 year old little girl in 1998. Today, the Blue Monkey has become a legend. He is part of the history of the 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment and many, many other people.

The Blue Monkey gets around, and in doing so has a become a legend.

It all started in Gagetown, New-Brunswick (Canada), when a young soldier, Corporal Brian Brophy, had a severe accident that nearly put him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Thank God, today Brian Brophy is walking, but unfortunately may never fully recover from his injuries. In 1999, Brian was supposed to be deployed to Yugoslavia, along with his best pal, Corporal Steven McCormick, and the rest of the 2 RCR Soldiers. Not physically fit for the deployment, Brian had to stay back. Too young to understand, Brian’s Daughter, Morgan, did not want her father's best friend Steven to be all alone in a foreign country. She decided to send a care package to him, a little blue stuffed monkey.

That day, when Steven received the package, he made a promise to Morgan; to make the Blue Monkey famous.

Since then, the Blue Monkey has traveled considerably. He has now been deployed in Germany, and has been to Yugoslavia, Haiti, Afghanistan, and Eritrea. Making some believe that the monkey is entitled to Canada's peace keeping mission medal. In 2010, he will be entitled to his country's Canadian Defense Medal as well. the Blue Monkey has traveled around the world. Missions, R&R (short period of rest during a deployment), HLTA (leave days during a deployment), and even on the personal vacations of Canadian Forces members. Just to name a few: the Blue Monkey has been to Orlando, Toronto, Montreal, Budapest, Ethiopia, Thailand, Las Vegas, Amsterdam, England, Scotland and has took a bath in the lake where supposedly lives the Loch Ness Monster. He has also completed some military qualification courses such as the the TQ4 Motorcycle dispatch course taken in Borden, Canada, and a few years ago he completed his Light Armored Vehicle course, where he was given his camouflage poncho. Several of his military buddies consider him very brave for his attactive blue color makes him a potential target for enemy. In the near future, he will jump out of an airplane and get his Airborne Wings.

Everywhere he goes there a picture to document his adventures. He is more than just a stuffed animal, the Blue Monkey is famous, but he symbolizes the life and stories of our Canadian Soldiers, their families and their friends. He symbolizes 'friendship.' If you see a Canadian Soldier, ask him about the Blue Monkey and he might have a picture of him somewhere in a souvenir box or on his computer. If you are lucky enough to see the Blue Monkey ask him where he is going next. You can be sure that will be keeping a Canadian Soldier from feeling lonely.

Morgan would be proud.

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