Royal Military College awards posthumous degrees to four cadets killed in Kingston, Ont.

Four Royal Military College cadets who died in a motor vehicle accident in Kingston, Ont. last month were given their degrees posthumously on Thursday and honoured in a memorial put on by friends at the college.

Jack Hogarth, Andrei Honciu, Broden Murphy and Andrès Salek died after their vehicle went into the water off Point Frederick in the early morning hours of April 29. 

They were set to graduate from the college in a convocation ceremony along with hundreds of their classmates this spring. RMC awarded the students with their Bachelor of Arts degrees posthumously during the ceremony.

Hogarth was in military and strategic studies and was destined to be an officer in an armoured regiment.  Honciu planned to be a logistics officer and studied business administration. Murphy was working to become an aerospace environment controller in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Salek, who was a student of military and strategic studies, also wanted to be an armoured officer.

At a special memorial ceremony on campus Thursday evening, it was an emotional time for the cadets' friends who had studied alongside the students for the past four years. 

It was included in the Sunset Ceremony, put on every year by the college. The celebration of life ceremony was organized and added by the students themselves to collectively grieve.

In speeches by friends at the ceremony, the four were remembered as a close-knit group, who were noted for their bravery and dedication.

Jack Hogarth’s was remembered by his friend Adam Beauprè as someone who listened and cared about those around him.

"He just had this anything is possible attitude he used to push through RMC, but he also used to inspire his friends," said Beauprè. "Jack’s love for his friends was only further proven that he was always around for us, and would even seek us out and check in."

Friend Josh Andrews agrees.

"To me and the boys he was a brother and a best friend, to others he was a leader or a peer," says Andrews. "I miss you, man."

Classmate and friend Devin Mainguy said the loss of Honciu was a loss for the whole country.

"He cared for his teammates, subordinates, as well as superiors well-being," he says. "In terms of the Canadian Armed Forces, we not only lost a friend and a member of our family, but a future logistics officer who anyone at this college would have loved to see at any point in their career. 

"As future officers we lost a friend and a teammate, but we also see the loss for this entire country, as Canadian Armed Forces lost an incredible and meaningful leader."

Christopher Favrin remembered Murphy as his 'first friend' at the school, and someone whom he bonded with immediately. 

"We confided in each other, supported, worked and studied together," he says. "You were a champion in everything you did and always first in line to try something new. You never hesitated to link up and try to get the boys together, and never had a bad time, of this I’m certain."

"Broden was kind, selfless, courageous dedicated and a funny individual," agreed Leon Repin. "Broden left a legacy that will be cherished by all those who’ve ever met him. A legacy that I will remember and embody every day until I join him."

Sharing stories of Andrès Salek, Amy Byun remembered him as a positive and humble individual.

"Losing you was so painful," she says, becoming emotional. "Losing you was so painful because you’re like my breath of fresh air. You took my side no matter if I was right or wrong."

"I’d like to thank God for giving me the opportunity to have such a kind and loving soul like Andrès in my life."

Bagpipes and a parade ceremony were used to honour their friends in a military tradition, what the four would have dedicated their lives to. Four fireworks in white and green were discharged after sundown to mark the loss and celebrate their friends' lives.

Closing his remarks for Murphy, Favrin says he believes the friends are all together.

"Go with the boys as we always did, smile, laugh, eat and drink together," said Favrin. "But save me a spot so that we can, as we always were, all be together again."