Nichola Goddard

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Nichola Goddard
Nichola Goddard.png
Captain Nichola Kathleen Sarah Goddard
Born (1980-05-02)May 2, 1980
Madang, Papua New Guinea
Died May 17, 2006(2006-05-17) (aged 26)
Panjwaye District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan

Captain Nichola Kathleen Sarah Goddard, MSM (May 2, 1980 – May 17, 2006) was the first female Canadian combat soldier killed in combat, and the 16th Canadian soldier killed in Canadian operations in Afghanistan.


Born to British and Canadian school teachers in Madang, Papua New Guinea, Goddard spent most of her childhood in various locations, including Black Lake and Lac la Ronge, Saskatchewan. She attended Jr. High in Edmonton, Alberta, and High school in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Nicknamed "Carebear", by her ski team in Nova Scotia, her hobbies included cross-country skiing and running, and she had competed in biathlon events. She led a local Scout troop with her fiancé (later husband), Jason Beam, while they were officer cadets at the Royal Military College, in Kingston, Ontario and owned two dogs and two cats.

Captain Goddard arrived in Afghanistan in January 2006, and had been serving with Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry as a forward observation officer at the time of her death; her parent unit was the 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery.

The battle[edit]

Goddard was killed on May 17, 2006, during a firefight in the Panjwaye District. It was part of a joint two-day operation between Canadian and Afghan troops, to secure Kandahar's outskirts after a rumor of Taliban preparations to launch an assault on the city. As troops were moving into a mosque to capture 15 alleged Taliban members, several dozen hidden militants began firing from neighbouring houses. As a crew commander, Goddard was standing half-exposed in her LAV III, which was hit by two rocket-propelled grenades early in the battle. The battle lasted most of the day on the 17th and into the night, and ended shortly after an American B-1 Lancer dropped a 500lbs bomb. In the end, the two-day operation saw Goddard, an Afghan National Army soldier, and 40 Taliban killed, as well as approximately 20 Taliban captured, which early reports mistakenly said could have included Mullah Dadullah.[1]

After effects[edit]

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was the first to mention the death, opening a Parliamentary debate hours later, stating that he wasn't certain it was a "first" female combat death for Canada, and that he would not release her name until her husband had been notified.

General (Ret'd) Richard Hillier, former chief of defence staff wrote in his autobiography A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War, that officials in the Prime Minister's Office ordered the military to hide the return to Canada of Captain Nichola Goddard because they did not want her flag-draped coffin seen on the news.[2]

It was later announced that her husband Jason Beam would be the first widower to receive the Memorial Cross.[3] The Memorial Cross (also known as the Silver Cross) has traditionally been presented to widows and mothers of Canadian war dead.[4]

She was also posthumously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal on Oct 27, 2006 [5]

After Goddard's death, policies have changed on the traditions of presenting the Memorial Cross to widows or mothers of the ones killed. Now, members of the Canadian Forces are required to choose who will receive the Memorial Cross(es) (a maximum of three).

She was posthumously awarded the Sacrifice Medal on Monday, November 9, 2009. Sacrifice Medals are awarded to members of the Canadian Forces and those who work with them who have been wounded or killed by hostile action and to Canadian Forces members who died as a result of service.[6]

There is a middle school in Calgary, Alberta named after her: Captain Nichola Goddard School.[7]


Memorial Arch

The return home[edit]

The family arranged for a public funeral at St. Barnabas Anglican Church in Calgary, held on Friday May 26, 2006.

Other Canadian Female Military Casualties[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ CTV report.
  2. ^ Don`t Look Away
  3. ^ DND news release.
  4. ^ Order-in-Council 2374, dated December 1, 1919.
  5. ^ Governor General announces 24 Mentions in Dispatches and 27 Meritorious Service Decorations
  6. ^ Governor General News Release
  7. ^
  8. ^ * Captain Nichola Godard middle school Welcome to the eVeritas Newsletter
  9. ^ Aid project honours fallen Canadian soldier | University of Calgary
  10. ^ Remembering | Calgary Herald - Read and Search Obituaries, Create a Tribute for a Loved One or Offer your Condolences
  11. ^ Video on YouTube
  12. ^ | location=Toronto | work=The Globe and Mail | first=Steven | last=Chase | title=First woman to fall in Afghan combat earns nautical honour - The Globe and Mail | date=February 10, 2011
  13. ^ "Harper Government Names New Coast Guard Vessels in Honour of Canadian Heroes". Canada News Service. 2011-02-10. Archived from the original on 2012-11-18. 
  14. ^ Bryin Weese (2011-02-09). "Fallen Heroes to be honoured with namesake ships Thursday". Toronto Sun. Archived from the original on 2012-11-18. 
  15. ^ "Canadian Coast Guard's "Hero Class" Of Vessels". Department of Fisheries and Oceans. 2011-02-10. Archived from the original on 2012-11-18. 
  16. ^ "New Calgary school named after fallen soldier Nichola Goddard". Calgary Sun. 2012-02-02. Retrieved 2012.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  17. ^
  18. ^ Video on YouTube
  19. ^ The Globe and Mail: Arts: Books & Media | Review : Sunray the Death and Life of Captain Nichola Goddard by Valerie Fortney
  20. ^ "Canadian soldier killed, 4 wounded by roadside bomb in Afghanistan". CBC News. April 14, 2009. 
  21. ^ "2 Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan". CBC News. June 26, 2010. 
  22. ^ "Canadian woman 16th soldier killed in Afghanistan". CBC News. May 17, 2006.