Mrs. Candy Greff calls Lacombe, Alberta home, and has for many years. She was born in Regina, Saskatchewan and was raised mainly in the town of Radville where she later met her husband, Greg.
As a Licensed Practical Nurse over 33 years, she received her certification in Saskatoon, SK and was immersed in a profession in which selflessness and a gregarious nature are virtues - ones also shared by her son Byron. “He would talk to anyone, and I’m the same way,” she says. “In our world we need to be kind to each other.”
Candy enthusiastically describes her son and the memory of his distinctive laugh. “There are a lot of people who met him and loved him,” she says. “He was fun-loving but hard-working at the same time,” she adds. Byron was serving in the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan as an advisor to Afghan military personnel when he died.
Candy speaks passionately about her role as the 2022 National Silver Cross Mother and says “pride” and “honour” are the first emotions that come to mind. “I am honoured to represent those who know what it feels like to lose a child, the pain, the daily struggle, but you do it for your child.”
She describes her son as someone who wanted to “do good” for others, and believes serving in Afghanistan gave him that opportunity; not only to help that country as a whole, but its individual citizens. She remembers reading an article about kites flying again in that part of the world. “That warmed my heart, because if children felt safe enough to go out and fly kites again in Afghanistan, the job everyone was doing there was helping, at that point.”
As National Silver Cross Mother Candy hopes that she can inspire people, including children, to remember – and to never forget the losses in Afghanistan, a country so far away. “I hope that more kids will come to realize the meaning of the ultimate sacrifice.”
Candy and her husband Greg had three children including Byron, Chelsey and Dustin – and are happy grandparents of eight. Both are recently retired; Greg having spent years as a tradesman. They now enjoy spending time with their family and traveling – visiting special destinations like Disneyland, Hawaii and Mexico.
MCpl Byron Greff
Master Corporal Byron Greff was a member of the Canadian Army, a soldier who easily made friends and enjoyed the camaraderie and purpose of military life. A competitive sports enthusiast, he especially loved hockey.
He was born on August 11, 1983, in Swift Current, Saskatchewan to Candy and Greg Greff.
Byron was a member of the Third Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) based in Edmonton, Alberta. He was a highly skilled soldier, also trained as a paratrooper and an integral part of the reconnaissance platoon. He died on October 29, 2011, while on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, having just returned to the country after a visit home to Alberta. He was serving as an advisor to Afghan military personnel when he died.
Byron was riding inside an armoured NATO bus when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-filled car which impacted the bus. He was the first Canadian soldier to die during that particular training mission, and the last Canadian soldier to lose his life in Afghanistan.
At the time of his passing, Byron was a devoted husband and father, married to Lindsay whom he had met in Edmonton. They had two children, Kellar and Brielle.
Byron’s mother Candy highlights his positive personality as a key part of who he was. “He could tell jokes for hours, that boy! He was just hilarious, full of fun but also serious,” she says. “When he had a job to do, he did it and was very focused.”
The path leading to Byron’s military journey began when he made a personal decision to join the cadet program in Red Deer, AB. He was recognized for his accomplishments with the 1390 RCACC Top Recruit award. He went on to basic training in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec and then to battle school in Wainwright, AB.
After his passing, several meaningful ways to remember Byron were unveiled. Lacombe Composite High School in Alberta placed a memorial bench to honour him in their outdoor classroom. The Lacombe Royal Canadian Legion Branch #79 named their upper hall the “Byron Greff Memorial Hall” in his memory. In the northeastern part of Saskatchewan now lies a pristine lake - “Greff Lake” - named for him by the province. His mother also notes the symbolic LAV III armoured personnel carrier found in the Fairview Cemetery in Lacombe, AB, where Byron now rests.
Every year, Legion Provincial Commands and individuals forward
nominations for the selection of a National Silver Cross Mother. These
nominations are reviewed by a selection committee at Dominion Command
and one mother is chosen for the year which begins on 01 November until
31 October of the following year.