Sgt. Pongracz helping to train in Ukraine

The Canadian Armed Forces are part of Operation UNIFIER, a joint mission to support the Security Forces of Ukraine


A local serviceman is playing an important role as part of a Canadian Armed Forces mission in the Ukraine.

Sgt. Tyler Ponsgracz, a boat-loving soldier and local firefighter, lives in Killarney with his wife Amanda and young son Jack. 

And he was deployed in the middle of June to join Operation UNIFIER, a mission to support the Security Forces of Ukraine. 

Pongracz, based at CFB Shilo, left Canada on a military flight, along with a contingent of around 135 other Canadian soldiers from western Canada.

“I will be there to assure that standards are met,” said Sgt. Pongracz earlier this spring. “We will be training them to work better, with NATO operability, and more in line with the methods of a modern, western, conventional army.”

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) launched Operation UNIFIER – also known as Canadian Armed Forces Joint Force – Ukraine – in response to requests from the Government of Ukraine. The intent is to help Ukraine remain sovereign, secure, and stable, they said.

The training mission harmonizes its efforts with other nations through a Multinational Joint Commission, which includes Canada, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, Denmark, and Sweden.

The CAF’s primary focus in Ukraine is to build the Security Forces of Ukraine’s capacities to enable enduring reforms, and the training is taking place at several locations across western and central Ukraine.

“I don’t know exactly where Tyler is,” said Amanda Pongracz this week. “They are working in a number of places, and I think they move around. He’s a member of the local Royal Canadian Legion here in Killarney, and he signed out the Legion flag, and took it with him. He likes to take it as a representation of the town. And he asked me to send him his Killarney fire fighters shirt. I mailed it to him three weeks ago through the military post. He wants to take a picture of himself in it in Ukraine.”

Since 2015, the CAF has provided training to 1,129 members of the National Guard of Ukraine, they said. 

This training has included the provision of mentorship and guidance to Ukrainian personnel, supporting the development of individual and collective training, military engineering, and explosive device disposal training.

It also includes military police training, including the use of force, and basic investigative techniques courses. It also employs medical training that provides casualty evacuation and combat first aid training.

Sgt. Pongracz will be returning from duty in the Ukraine sometime in the fall, said his wife, and will then enjoy some leave at home with his family – and probably on his boat on Killarney Lake. The Legion flag, which he also took to Afghanistan in 2013 during his tour of duty there, will also be returning, back to the Killarney Legion headquarters.

SOMEWHERE IN UKRAINE – Sgt. Tyler Pongracz (right) and fellow soldier Corporal Kim pose on top of a jeep parked somewhere in Ukraine, holding up the Royal Canadian Legion #25 Killarney flag. Both men are members of the Second Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, based in CFB Shilo, and are part of Operation UNIFIER, a mission in Ukraine.