People use the word legend to describe someone who is or was legendary to them or an organization. I’m going to tell you about a man who was legendary to me and many others. He was a friend, brother in arms, and a mentor to the troops that had the privilege to know and serve with him.
Sgt. John Wayne Faught (yeah that is his real name) was born on April 20, 1965, in Sault Saint Marie Ontario, Canada. He joined the military in 1990 and went on to have an outstanding career until his death on 16 Jan 2010.
I first met John Wayne (JW) in 1996. He was a seasoned Cpl and I was an impressionable young private. I was a candidate on the TOW anti-armour course and John was the driver of the APC that housed the TOW missile system we were being trained on. JW had a constant lip full of dip and an old-school gruff appearance. He didn’t mince words, if you were not up to his standard he let you know it, regardless of rank. He knew the TOW system like no one else and was willing to share his knowledge with anyone who wanted it. We instantly hit it off.
1997 found me in Bosnia with Charlie Company 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI or Patricias). I was a line troop and we were co-located with TOW Platoon in the town of Drvar. JW was in TOW still and I got to know him a lot better on that tour, he and I would bullshit over a dip or a coffee. Both of us were from Ontario and from border towns with Michigan–we had a fair amount in common.
Throughout the years our paths crossed and it always seemed like we would run into each other, share a dip, and bullshit the way soldiers do. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is a small world so we had several mutual friends and it was always good to see him and shoot the shit or hear about how he was doing. His exploits of being promoted and demoted (multiple times) always brought a smile to his and everyone’s face and the knowing head shake followed by “Fucken JW.”
Fast forward to 2008 Kandahar. I was back inside the wire for the last three weeks of my tour and was working in the RG 31 shop and who walks in but JW himself! After our usual greeting of “Is that you John Wayne?” and his reply of “Is this me?” we caught up over what else? A dip. JW was the transport Sgt for the OMLT and was there to check up on the status of his vehicles needing repair. I got to see him almost every day for those three weeks till I shipped out for Canada. Was great to catch up and see an old friend.
Then in the spring of 2009, we crossed paths again during pre-deployment training for his 3rd tour of Afghanistan. Again, we caught up over a dip and I told him to be safe over there and we parted ways.
Then that fateful night came. I was watching a Hockey game on TV and after the first period, Don Cherry came on and was about to do his Coaches Corner segment, before he started he said something about a soldier being killed in Afghanistan and put up JW’s picture. My heart hit the floor and tears flowed.
No fucken way!
Had to be a mistake!
It wasn’t a mistake, JW had been killed by an IED while on foot patrol. Just like that, my friend was gone.
That day, 16 Jan 2010, the CAF lost a great man, myself and countless others lost a great friend. The Regiment lost an outstanding leader and soldier. JW loved being a soldier and he loved his troops.
Padre Dennis Newhook had this to say about JW.
“He was a leader who led from the front and always put the needs of his soldiers above his own,”
“He was known for his methodical and deliberate approach to soldiering, ensuring that the safety of his troops was paramount. Many of his younger section looked to him as a father figure. Sergeant Faught knew his troops and his troops knew him,” Padre Newhook continued.
“He loved life and he loved the army, but he loved being with his soldiers the most,” the chaplain said. “Sergeant Faught died as he lived, leading and protecting his soldiers.”
A couple of years later I met one of JW’s troops who was there that fateful day and he relayed a story to me that made me shake my head and say one more time “Fucken JW.” This troop told me how not minutes before the IED, JW told his troops to spread the fuck out and watch their spacing so that one IED or machine gun burst couldn’t take out a bunch of them.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. I hope I met his standard as a leader of troops myself. Fuck knows he would have called me out if I wasn’t. Then we would have had a dip and carried on.
Rest easy Patricia.
Jay is a Retired Canadian Army Sgt, who served 25 years to Queen and Country. He has multiple deployments both foreign and domestic including the Balkans and Afghanistan. When not smashing keys on a keyboard, he coaches little league baseball and competes nationally as a Service rifle, Pistol, and Precision long-range shooter. Jay is an avid hunter and outdoorsman and married to an amazing woman and has two incredible kids. He ends his writing with “VP” (Victoria Patricia) and “88W out” (his vehicle’s call sign).
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