DARTMOUTH, N.S. – Three and a half years ago, a Dartmouth family’s world was forever changed. Petty Officer Second Class Craig Blake, a bomb expert on tour in Afghanistan, was killed.
Blake left behind a wife and two young boys.
Today, the community came together to honour Blake’s memory and his family in a very special way.
Montebello Park in Dartmouth officially has a new name. It will now be known as PO2 Craig Blake Memorial Park.
The designation comes after the son of a fallen Canadian diver wanted to honour his dad for making the ultimate sacrifice.
“The boys played with their dad here a lot, it’s kind of the hub of the community. We live just a few streets over, so it made sense” said Priscilla Blake, Craig Blake’s widow.
Hundreds of people gathered for the renaming ceremony this afternoon. Many of them were family members, friends or neighbours of the Blake’s. All of them wanted to reflect on Craig’s life, and the tragedy that brought them together.
“We were both minor hockey coaches together, we were on the ice a lot. There’s not a day that goes by that everybody doesn’t miss him. I have a picture of him in my office, there’s a picture at the front of the unit. Every day he came to work he was positive, happy all the time” said Petty Officer First Class Michael Lunn.
“When he went to Afghanistan, I was the commanding officer of the unit, so I was the CO when he died and when we brought him back from Kandahar to the burial at sea just out in Halifax Harbour,” said Lt. Commander Roland Leyte.
Blake was killed in May 2010 and was only a few weeks into his first tour of Afghanistan when he was killed by an IED.
He was the first sailor with the Canadian Forces to die in Afghanistan.
“For our line of work, we knew the amount of people that we sent over to Afghanistan to do the work that we do, you know each and every time we were playing the odds and when we got the call that night you know the whole diving community came together,” added Lunn.
Those who knew him best say Blake would be humbled the park was renamed in his memory.
“It’s a real honour for my whole family to have the park renamed after Craig just so we know Craig’s memory will never fade. He’ll always be a part of our community and a part of our neighbourhood, which I think is important. It’s important for our boys I think especially,” said Priscilla.
Blake’s wife and two sons were also presented with a hockey jersey that will hang in his memory, and the hockey team he once coached for his son made a special dedication to the family.
“One year he won coach of the year, so the Whalers thought it would be nice if they renamed the Coach of the Year Award the Craig Blake Coach of the Year Award, so that’s pretty special too,” she added.