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Master Corporal Graham Ragsdale of the Canadian Forces was the commander of the Third Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry sniper team attached to the United States Army 187th Infantry Regiment (Rakkasans) of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) during Operation Anaconda in the Shah-i-kot Valley, Paktia Province, Afghanistan in March, 2002. The sniper team recorded more than 20 priority target kills including the long distance record combat kill of 2430 metres set by Corporal Rob Furlong. Master Corporal Ragsdale with selfless disregard for his own personal safety operated his sniper team through extreme weather conditions at high altitude while under direct and indirect enemy fire aiding the success of the mission by identifying and neutralizing enemy targets and saving allied lives. He was awarded the U.S. Army Bronze Star with "V" for valour for his actions in combat and the Mention in Dispatches Oak Leaf by the Canadian Forces for valiant conduct and meritorious service.
Graham Ragsdale was born June 28, 1969 in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada. He joined the Canadian Forces in 1988 after graduating from secondary school and upon completion of selection and parachute training he was posted as a paratrooper to 2 Commando of the now disbanded Canadian Airborne Regiment, Special Service Force (SSF) where he gained the reconnaissance, sniper, tracker, machine gunner, and mountain operations qualifications.
In 1991 after his initial three year service contract he transferred from the regular force to the Canadian Rangers to serve as an instructor while attending university and pursuing a promising amateur boxing career. He rejoined the regular force in 1996 and was posted to the newly formed 3 PPCLI light infantry battalion where he gained the mortarman, leadership, jumpmaster, freefall parachute instructor, unarmed combat instructor, British pathfinder and British sniper qualifications. In 2000 he completed a tour of duty in the Former Yugoslavia with NATO's Stabilization Force (SFOR), and was then given the command role of battalion master sniper in charge of the sniper group that in 2002 was deployed to Afghanistan as part of the US Operation Enduring Freedom and Canadian Operation Apollo.
In contrast to the accolades of American soldiers that fought beside the Canadian snipers in the Shah-i-kot, a controversial decision made by the Canadian chain of command following Operation Anaconda unceremoniously relieved Master Corporal Ragsdale of command of the sniper group amidst misconduct allegations against Master Corporal Arron Perry. As a result, a disheartened Ragsdale chose to leave the military following the deployment to pursue a career in the private security sector.
Medals and Decorations
- Sacrifice Medal (replacing the previously awarded Wound Stripe) - Afghanistan
- South-West Asia Service Medal
- Special Service Medal - Rangers and Alert
- Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal
- NATO SFOR Medal - Former Yugoslavia
- Bronze Star Medal with "V" (United States)
- Mentioned in Dispatches
- Combat Infantry Badge CIB (United States)
- Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation
- Parachute wings Canadian Forces
- Parachute wings British Army
- Parachute wings British SAS
- Pathfinder Flash British Army
- Sniper badge Canadian Forces
- Sniper badge British Army
- Parachute wings senior United States Army
- Parachute wings HALO United States Army
- Air Assault wings United States Army
- Naylor, Sean. "Not a Good Day to Die" Penguin Group (New York), 2005
- Pegler, Martin. "Out of Nowhere - A History of Military Snipers" Osprey Publishing, 2006
- Friscolanti, Michael. "We Were Abandoned" Maclean's, Rogers Publishing, 2006-05-15
- Krott, Rob. "Canadian Snipers Take Out Taliban" Soldier of Fortune, 2002–08
- 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry