|Warrant Officer Frank Mellish. (File photo)
TORONTO - Studying in the Maritimes, a fallen Canadian soldier's son vows to honour his dad's memory with good university grades.
And Matthew Mellish has U of T students to thank for financing him at the University of New Brunswick with their first scholarship from the Canadian Hero Fund.
Warrant Officer Frank Mellish was killed in 2006 by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.
"My dad did seven tours of duty prior to my 14th birthday," Matthew said in a statement delivered Wednesday by fund executive director Michael Ball.
"I saw less and less of who he was as he came back from each tour," but his son knew the 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment warrant officer loved his country "and felt a strong sense of duty to protect it and his family.
"I am so proud of his military service and all that he did for our family and for our country during the short time we shared together," wrote the aspiring soldier and first-year student.
Higher education was important to his dad, who was based in Petawawa.
He told his wife Kendra Mellish "if anything ever happens to me, make sure you send the boys to good schools," their son wrote.
Matthew said his mom worked hard to keep her two sons focused, "which makes me determined to make her and my dad proud by fulfilling their wishes."
The $10,000 scholarship covered tuition and books, "relieving me from some stress," he wrote, adding the fund "represents a means for others to compensate in a small way for the cost we ... paid by losing a loved one for our country.
"It's a tough road ahead but I feel blessed," Matthew wrote of his dad, in a message written about 1,300 kilometres away and read by Ball in a hushed hall at St. Hilda's College at U of T's downtown campus.
Ball said Mellish sought the first scholarship.
He said more applicants will apply after two television ads launch the charity's new "11 for 11" fundraiser.
The Canadian Hero Fund website is www.herofund.ca. Donate online at 11for11.ca.