A Soldier's Portrait:  Corporal Albert Storm

For many of the troops who join our Canadian Forces, the decision to start a career in the military is preplanned often as early as high school.

For some, it’s more of a reaction to something that may have happened such as the World Trade Center attacks or seeing the positive effects of watching the military in action domestically in the floodzones of Manitoba.

For Corporal Albert Storm it seems more like a case of serendipity in which someone finds something they weren’t expecting to find.

Albert Storm was raised in Fort Erie in the Niagra region of Ontario.  Until he was 10, Albert’s upbringing was fairly typical as he grew up with his mother and father, two brothers and a sister.  This would suddenly and tragically change with the death of his mother.

Albert’s older brother George, who was 20 at the time, would step in and take a hand in helping to raise his younger brother.

It was shortly after high school that Albert found himself uncertain about what to do with his life.  George suggested that he take a bus trip to visit his sister Beverley in Edmonton.  He did and soon found himself working long hours in a lumber yard hand-stacking lumber.

He didn’t have a vehicle to get from home across the city each day so Albert relied on city transit; however, the bus wasn’t always on time and Albert was not always patient, so he began a game of jogging ahead to the next bus stop to see if he could beat the bus there.  If the bus hadn’t arrived yet he continued on to the next stop.  It wasn’t long that he gave up on the bus and just jogged across the city.  Soon, with his jogging and physical labour on the jobsite, Albert found himself in the best physical condition of his life.

This would eventually lead Albert to investigate a career with the Canadian Forces and after acing his physical a 17 year military career was born.  It was a career that would take Albert to peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, Croatia and even a stint at CFS Alert in Nunavit.  He deployed to Afghanistan twice.

For Corporal Storm, life extended beyond the military.  He would eventually marry and become father to his son Joshua and his daughter Danika.  He was a devoted dad even after a divorce and couldn’t wait for the chance to enjoy spending time with his children, often fishing on the Ottawa River or just playing with them.

But on November 27, 2006, back in Afghanistan, it was all business as Corporal Storm suited up and joined Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Girouard.  They were travelling in a military convoy on the outskirts of Kandahar in the Panjwaii district, a district known as a Taliban stronghold and the scene of fierce fighting in recent months.

The two members of the CFB Petawawa-based 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, were driving in a Bison, an eight-wheeled armoured vehicle, when a suicide car bomber drove his vehicle into the convoy of military vehicles and detonated explosives killing both soldiers. 

When most people think of their friend “Stormy” they can’t help but remember his size and almost legendary strength that the burly man often displayed, whether squatting nearly 350 lbs of weight in the gym or moving a military water trailer by hand when no truck was available.

His friends say, “he had the back of an ox and the heart of an angel.”

While some saw brute strength, his older brother George fondly recalls, “Albert was wonderful with his rough, strong hands.  Amazingly, he was gentle with his hands and his children. I’ve seen him cuddle his son and his daughter with such compassion in his hands and eyes.”

Albert remained very close to his siblings and when asked why he chose to deploy to Afghanistan a second time, he told his brother he did it for the kids.  He said that there was a purpose to see children educated against war.

Corporal Storm was certainly proud of his own children and loved them dearly.  He made an historic decision in bestowing his eleven year old daughter with the Memorial Cross.  It was the first time the daughter of a fallen soldier, rather than a wife or mother, had received the honour.

If there was ever any doubt about Corporal Albert Storm’s love of Canada, one merely needs to look at the personal effects that he carried with him in Afghanistan. 

Soldiers on deployment are quite limited in what they are allowed to bring.  For Albert, he had to have two things:  his plaid lumberjack quilted jacket that he fondly refered to as his “Kenora dinner jacket” and his Canadian Tire credit card.  No, there is no Canadian Tire in Afghanistan but for Albert it was a constant reminder of the peaceful and proud country that he left behind.

Today, the children of Crystal Beach, Ontario, just minutes from Albert’s hometown, enjoy a playground full of climbing gear and fun apparatus. 

The little folks likely don’t notice that it’s called the Cpl. Albert Storm, CD Memorial Park but surely their parents do and hopefully they connect Albert’s love for children with his tremendous sacrifice for children on the other side of the world.

Rest easy Corporal.