Sailor returns home from Baghdad deployment

PO2 Kanwar Nijjer is greeted by his wife Gurdeep Nijjer and his daughter Sadbd Nijjer after returning from Operation Impact in Baghdad.Photo courtesy PO2 Kanwar Nijjer

PO2 Kanwar Nijjer is greeted by his wife Gurdeep Nijjer and his daughter Sadbd Nijjer after returning from Operation Impact in Baghdad. Photo courtesy PO2 Kanwar Nijjer.

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

A human resources supervisor from Naval Fleet School Pacific has returned home after a six-and-half-month deployment in Baghdad.

Petty Officer Second Class Kanwar Nijjer was greeted at Victoria Airport Jan. 27 with cheers, tears of joy, and a warm embrace from his wife Gurdeep and their 12-year-old daughter Sadbd. Three members from his former unit, 11 Field Ambulance (Victoria), were also there to greet him.

“It was the first lengthy deployment during my 25-year marriage, so it was a great feeling after being away from home for so long to finally be with my wife and daughter again, and to see members from my old unit greeting me,” said PO2 Nijjer. 

He was deployed with the Canadian Army as part of Operation Impact. He and other Canadian Armed Forces were stationed at the United States military’s Union III Base in Baghdad. He says the base was close to the U.S. Embassy which was the target of an Iranian rocket strike, a retaliatory response from Iran following the death of Major General Qasem Soleimani of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who was killed by a U.S. drone strike on Jan. 3.

PO2 Nijjer adds many Canadian military members missed the strike as they were moved to Kuwait earlier that day.

Late night rocket and mortar attacks have now become commonplace in Baghdad’s green zone with the embassy being struck by three mortar shells on Jan. 27.

The 53-year-old father of three worked as a human resources supervisor during his deployment. He previously sailed aboard HMCS Restigouche, HMCS Kootenay, HMCS Mackenzie and HMCS Vancouver during his 25-year career in the Royal Canadian Navy. His son, Ordinary Seaman Udhay Nijjer recently joined the navy and is currently undergoing training at CFB Borden.

PO2 Nijjer says support from his family, his military training, regular physical exercise, and meditation helped him deal with the daily stresses of the deployment. He said the daily plight of Baghdad’s civilians from economic, employment and political uncertainty, and overwhelming desire for peace and safety, was very concerning. The deployment reaffirmed the importance of the freedoms and overall sense of security many Canadians take for granted. 

“I think in the end my experiences in Baghdad helped build my confidence, learn how to overcome adversity, personal weaknesses, and provided me with some good and positive growth,” said PO2 Nijjer.

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