Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Life [And Death] Of Erin Doyle

The Canadian army has a policy on facial hair. Moustaches are OK, but beards are pretty much forbidden without medical cause and even then growing anything longer than the allowed one inch is a sure way to bring a crusty sergeant major down on your own personal head.

It is called a ‘jacking.’ And it’s what happens in the Canadian Forces when a superior officer has some kind of issue with you, or with your beard.

Master Corporal Erin Doyle was not worried about getting jacked. He was, in fact, legendarily unworried about getting jacked. He may have been, to be honest, the least jacking-averse soldier in the entire CF.

Seriously, he seemed to like getting jacked. It didn’t really matter what the rank was doing the jacking, either, from sergeant to colonel, Doyle was as unworried about rank as he was about getting in trouble. I met Doyle, who was with the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, a couple of times in Panjwai in April 2008 and he made a singular—sort of scary—impression.

Doyle was a tattooed and wildly-bearded giant. He had the unmistakable swagger of a man for whom solid rules were mere suggestions. He had a way of leaning into a stare that could make anyone nervous. Hell, he didn’t just look at you, he estimated you. It was a look that seemed to leave everyone, even officers, feeling a little less than certain. It was an interesting effect, and I’m not sure where he learned it, some kind of finishing school for outlaws maybe.

The first time I saw him, he was quite literally presiding over a meeting between two sets of patrol leaders—one captain and one sergeant—during a long and arduous hike in the deep outback of western Panjwai.

Read the rest of the story Here. Really humanizes what we're doing.

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