LETHBRIDGE: As we mark Remembrance Day and honour those who have fought and died in conflicts around the world, it's important to think about those who are still serving their country and putting their lives at risk.
Master Corporal Chance Burles joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 2006 as a combat engineer and went on to serve a nine month tour in Afghanistan in 2008.
Being born and raised in Southern Alberta, he talked about the stark reality of life in the Middle East, "The moment you drive out on the roads, you're taking your life in your own hands. Basically we consider any movement outside the FOB (Forward Operating Base), it's considered a combat movement, so you could come under contact at any point, you could hit an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) at any point, somebody could shoot a rocket at you. The moment you leave the wire you're in a life or death situation."
Burles went on to talk about the challenges that followed, "It was a massive shock to the system afterwards, at least in my point of view when we came under contact or we had to deal with IED's or explosions or anything of that nature, the training took over and you just work and you do your job. Then it's after everything's said and done and you're back in camp and you're kind of realizing what just happened when you start thinking about it and how crazy it was and how amazing it was. The training is top-notch and it takes over immediately, the moment it happens, that first round that whizzes past your head, you don't even think about it you just turn and do your job."
One of the greatest challenges was yet to come however, as Burles discussed his return home, "You go from a situation where everyday you're dealing with life and death situations, and you know that the guys beside you always have your back and anybody around you would give their life for yours and you would do the same for them. Then you get back to Canada and you're surrounded by civilians that you don't know, you don't know their intentions, you don't know whether or not they'd back you up if you needed them to, that kind of stuff. It's extremely challenging coming back to Canada and trying to be the regular dude that everyone remembers when you come from a situation that is uncontrollable ."
At the age of 31 and now working as an instructor for new recruits, Burles stated that he doesn't really see himself as a veteran, but acknowledged that his time in Afghanistan has definitely changed his view of Remembrance Day. He talked about friends that would never return home, and those scarred both physically and psychologically, saying it's crucial that we never forget their sacrifice.
He continued that it was one of the more valuable experiences of his life and one that he hasn't regretted for a moment.
Before wrapping up the interview, Burles noted that he had an important message that he needed to get out, "I tell all my new recruits to get involved in the (Royal Canadian Legion) and become Legion members, and even civilians I meet that want to support vets and support our troops, go down to the Legion, become a member, volunteer. We're losing a lot of the old boys that ran the smaller Legions all around the country and those need to be kept up and the history there needs to be maintained."
Below: A clip of Master Corporal Chance Burles talking about one of his more memorable experiences while in Afghanistan.