Private Tony Harris was running, running as fast as he could. After a loud explosion nearby, his instincts took over. Or was it instinct to run towards the trouble?
He ran twice the length of a football field amid the falling bombs. Screams, smoke, and confusion! It was difficult to see where anyone was.
He scrambled through metal scraps that had formerly been a container, home to some of his fellow troops. He grabbed one of his comrades, stopped the bleeding, and half-carried, half-dragged him back over the same stretch.
But there were five more, and Tony didn’t stop until there were all on the other side of the field.
A little while later he was still, “shaking all over. I had blood on my boots and blood on my pants. One of my buddies brought me a bag of Doritos — and then I was all good — but I couldn’t talk about it.”
It seemed so surreal, moments of intense emotion interspersed with the mundane. There was almost a disconnect between two worlds.
Tony Harris was running, running. But where was he going? Away from meaning and responsibility. His life after high school was empty. Drugs, drinks, and questionable parties filled his time.
But though he needed a direction, as he says, “I think I always knew that I was going to join the military. But when it came time I needed a push from my Dad.”
It was the motivation from Tony, Sr., formerly in the air force, that was just enough. He not only joined the military but was a changed man.
For his actions that fateful day a few years later, he was awarded the third highest military honor in Canada, the Medal of Military Valour.
But he didn’t do it for the award or for fame. “But if nothing had ever come of it, I would know in my heart that I did what I did. And that’s what helps me sleep at night.” He is a man with meaning, direction, and purpose, and a ways still to run.