Antonio Boneca holds a picture of his son, Cpl. Anthony Boneca, who died seven years ago in Afghanistan.
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Three Thunder Bay soldiers killed seven years ago in Afghanistan will have a monument dedicated to their memories on Sept. 14.
Cpl. Anthony Boneca, Pte. Robert Costall and Pte. Josh Klukie, will be memorialized that morning in a ceremony taking place at Waverly Park.
It’s an honour long past it’s due, said a tearful father Antonio Boneca on Friday, still grieving the loss of his wife Shirley, who passed away on July 4 after a lengthy illness.
“Twenty-one is too young to die,” he said, “This is important because it’s my son. It’s going to be there forever. It’s something they should do, because he died over there and so did the other two guys.”
Boneca’s son Anthony was killed on July 9, 2006, just two weeks before his second tour of duty was scheduled to end.
The former St. Ignatius High School quarterback spent four years in the reserves with the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment.
Klukie, a graduate of both Hillcrest High School and Confederation College, was a member of the 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment and was just 23 when he was killed on Sept. 29, 2006.
Costall died on March 26, 2006, the victim of a friendly-fire-incident involving a U.S. soldier, while under a Taliban attack trying to defend an army base in the southern Helmand province of the war-torn country.
Initially Antonio Boneca, tired of waiting for the military to move forward, decided he’d build a memorial to his son himself.
That’s when Ken MacAskill caught wind of his plan.
The chairman of the Thunder Bay Military History Society stepped in and quickly convinced his organization to cover the costs.
“I felt that was something he should not have to do on his own,” MacAskill said. “We decided to take on the project to make sure Tony and the other survivors would be happy with what we planned to do.”
“This is for the people to honour these soldiers and respect them and to give closure, in a way, to their families.”
The plaque, which will call the southwest corner of Waverly Park home, will feature a trio of maple leafs along its top, with the names of the three soldiers and their birthdates underneath.
Nestled in between is an inscription, which reads, “Honouring the memory of three gallant Thunder Bay soldiers who died in the NATO campaign to bring peace and freedom to Afghanistan.”
The ceremony, which is open to the public, is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. and is expected to draw the city’s military community out to the park.
“Besides the military, we certainly would appreciate the attendance of the citizenry of Thunder Bay,” MacAskill said.
The short ceremony will include the designation of the monument and its unveiling, the laying of poppies and a benediction service.
MacAskill said the location is a fitting one, given its proximity to the Thunder Bay Armouries, where all three soldiers killed received their first basic military training. The annual Remembrance Day ceremony is held each November across the park at the cenotaph.
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