PO2 Craig Blake first RCN member killed in Afghanistan

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Navy News / April 15, 2021

It’s been nearly 11 years since Petty Officer 2nd Class (PO2) Douglas “Craig” Blake was killed in Afghanistan.

But the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) never forgets its heroes.

PO2 Blake, a member of Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic), died after an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated about 25 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City in Panjwai district on May 3, 2010.

Only two weeks into his first tour of the country as an explosive ordnance disposal operator, he was returning to camp after successfully disposing of another IED when the blast went off at about 4:30 p.m. local time.

He was the first RCN sailor to be killed in Afghanistan, leaving behind his wife and two children.

Aged 37 at the time, he was born in Simcoe, Ont., and enlisted in the Navy at age 18. He served in the Persian Gulf War and on numerous NATO exercises.

He was described as incredibly fit, with a backbone of steel. Known jokingly as the “Poker Pirate”, he enjoyed pillaging his army friends during friendly card games. He was also an avid cyclist and competitive Ironman triathlete.

PO2 Blake is remembered as a devoted family man who loved coaching hockey and sharing stories about his kids.

His awards and decorations include the Canadian Forces Decoration, UN Protection Force (Yugoslavia), Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal, General Campaign Star – South-West Asia and bar, and the Sacrifice Medal.

In 2013, a park in Dartmouth, N.S., was named in his honour, and the annual Craig Blake Fitness Challenge was initiated by his fellow clearance divers at Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic).