8 years ago, Canada learned about a solider who was like many of us, living an ordinary life, until they died under extraordinary circumstances while at war. The soldier has also made a couple of historic firsts during their time in battle: the first artillery officer to call in support fire on an enemy since the Korean War (1950-1953), the first female combat soldier to lead Canadian soldiers into combat–and the first female combat soldier to lose her life to enemy fire.
Nichola Goddard was born in 1980 in Madang, Papua New Guinea, where her parents were teaching at the time. Once the family returned home to Canada, the Goddards lived in many parts of the country, from Lac la Ronge, Saskatchewan, to Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where Nichola went to high school. She loved to participate in many sports activities, like cross country, skiing and running, even competing in many biathlon events. When she joined the Canadian Armed Forces, serving in Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry, her goal was always to help others overseas.
Valour Canada writes of the day that Goddard lost her life in battle in Afghanistan:
Captain Goddard performed with distinction throughout that day, her calm and collected voice coolly calling out coordinates for her regiment’s 155mm artillery pieces and the American Apache helicopters overhead. Her reassuring presence, though sensed by most only via the radio, and unique role as the only forward observation officer in the area, no doubt played a large role in ensuring her troops’ confident performance. By the evening of the 17th, the Canadian and ANA forces had succeeded in checking the Taliban insurgents, killing forty and capturing twenty with the only casualties being an ANA soldier…and Captain Nichola Goddard.
Once Canada learned of her death, tributes came pouring in from across the country to her parents and 2 sisters. Since Nichola died in 2006, a few prominent things have been done, both by her family and from various individuals and organizations across the country, to commemorate her service to Canada while in Afghanistan:
-The Canadian Forces awarded Goddard (posthumously) the Meritorious Service Medal and the Sacrifice Medal;
-One of 9 new Mid-shore Patrol Vessels of the Canadian Forces is named after Goddard in her memory– the CGCS Captain Goddard M.S.M;
-In Calgary, Alberta, a school has been named after Goddard (Captain Nichola Goddard School);
-The Trews, a Canadian rock band whose members attended high school with Goddard, wrote a song dedicated to her in 2010 called Highway of Heroes.
Nichola Goddard is a Hero of History, not because she accomplished many firsts in her death, but because she was just like us, exploring and discovering Canada (and the world) while learning and helping others.