Ministers of National Defence and Veterans Affairs, and the Canadian Armed Forces, mark the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Medak Pocket


September 15, 2023 – Ottawa, ON – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Thirty years ago, Canadian soldiers from the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, as part of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) mission, faced combat and witnessed war crimes, in the Battle of Medak Pocket in Croatia. Four Canadians were injured during the battle, Captain Jim Decoste was killed in a vehicle accident during the operation, and many more returned home with operational stress injuries. It is considered by many to be the toughest and largest-scale action faced by our troops during the half-century between the Korean War and Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. Today, we commemorate their sacrifice and their commitment to peace and security, no matter the cost.

Starting on September 14, 1993, soldiers began arriving in Medak, Croatia, to reinforce the one Canadian platoon that was based in the town. Later, accompanied by French Army mechanized units, the Canadians were to position themselves between the Serbian and Croatian forces and implement a ceasefire agreement which had been negotiated days prior. However, when they arrived at the Medak Pocket, Croatian forces rained down heavy machine gun fire, rocket propelled grenades and artillery upon them. The Canadians withstood the assaults by building fortified positions, engaging in battle, and not backing down.

The next day, an impromptu news conference by Canadian commander Lieutenant-Colonel James Calvin pressured the Croatians to relent, and the Canadians finally were able to advance into the villages in the Medak Pocket. With their rapid advance into the Pocket, they found evidence of ethnic cleansing by Croatian forces. Not only did the arrival of Canadians in the area prevent additional killing of Serbian residents, it became one of the best-documented cases of ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia. In 2002, the governor general bestowed the Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation on the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, in recognition of their heroic actions.

Those who fought in the Medak Pocket carry the memories and psychological burdens of battle. On this 30th anniversary, we recognize the sacrifice of those who bravely served, and continue to serve, Canada at home and abroad. We also remember the sacrifice of their families, loved ones, and communities, who provide crucial support to Canada’s military on the home front. Lest we forget.


“Today, we remember the heroism and sacrifice demonstrated by the  2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry during the Battle of Medak Pocket in 1993. Those who fought still carry the scars of that battle, some of which we can not see. We will never forget the valour of these brave Canadian Armed Forces members, and we thank them for their service.”  

The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence

“On the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Medak Pocket, we honour the courage of those who served there and their efforts to restore peace and security – putting themselves in harm’s way to protect the most vulnerable. Peacekeeping is what many other countries think of when they see the red maple leaf. Thank you to all those who served in the former Yugoslavia. And thank you to the families for your support then and in the years since.”

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence

“The Battle of Medak Pocket is a testament to the fortitude and professionalism of the Canadian soldier. It was a formative experience for all who were there, one forever etched into our psyches. We must be ever mindful of its lessons, especially in today’s increasingly dangerous world, such as the importance of training, the will to do right, and to be ready at all levels as the security situation can quickly deteriorate.”

General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff 

Associated Links


Daniel Minden
Acting Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of National Defence

Media Relations
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-904-3333

Mikaela Harrison
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Media Relations
Veterans Affairs Canada
Phone: 613-992-7468

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