Jason Papilion remembered by friends, colleagues
Dedicated. Reliable. Great to be around.
© Submitted photo
The Papilion Family poses for a photograph. From left to right: Lorellei, Rhone and Jason Papillion. Jason died in a collision in Sidney, Montana while riding his motorcycle back from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Aug. 8.
Master Cpl. Jason Papilion was "so many things to so many different people," according to his friend and fellow Saskatchewan Dragoon Chad Humphreys, but those were the three adjectives that every one of his closest friends and colleagues had to offer.
Papilion, 33, died in a motorcycle accident in Sidney, Montana on his way home from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on Aug. 6.
His wife, Lorellei, was too upset to speak about her loss, but gave her blessing to Papilion's friends to reflect on his life and the impact he has had on theirs.
Humphreys' wife, Sarah Simison, remembers Papilion as a "hilarious" man who was "always laughing and joking with people."
"He was a great guy to be around, and his laugh was infectious," she said. "He was always having a good time. He had a huge heart, and he would do anything for anybody. … All of us have been saying, if this had happened to anybody else, Jason would have been the first person at their door to help."
Papilion helped Simison on the day Humphreys married her.
"In the summer of 2010, Sarah and I got married and we had our wedding at the Armouries," recalled Humphreys. "We used the bar (at the junior ranks mess) for our reception, and he ran that bar.
"It was Aug. 7 and super-hot out, and Sarah went behind the bar because they had a fan on the guys working it. Jason had to hold up her dress to help her cool off," he added.
"After that, we were pretty tight," Humphreys quipped. "He thought he'd be friends with me forever."
"One of the first things I said to my husband when I first found out he had died was that I couldn't imagine my life in Moose Jaw without Jason," added Simison. "That's how integral he was to our lives here."
But Papilion was more than just a good friend — he was a good soldier.
As a member of the Saskatchewan Dragoons, he served under Maj. Chris Hunter, who characterized Papilion as "one of the guys you could really count on."
"He was always cool and collected, and you could count on him in a pinch," said Hunter. "You could give him a task and not have to worry about it after that, because you knew he would take care of it."
Papilion "played an important role within the unit," he added.
"He looked after a lot of the young guys and got them set up as they started their careers. He did a lot of work training the new soldiers, and he also took care of a lot of the IT issues we had in the unit," said Hunter. "He had a good head on his shoulders and always had a good opinion that was worth listening to."
Sgt. Jon Barth served with Papilion on a tour in Afghanistan. Papilion was his third-in-command as part of a force protection platoon.
"I had one of the best soldiers I've ever worked with in my life working alongside me," said Barth of the experience. "He also happened to be one of my best friends. I couldn't have asked for a better person to come with and support me on that mission.
"He was absolutely an exceptional soldier, and that's not just my opinion," he added. "I contribute a lot of the success of my mission to him. I don't really know how else to put it."
Beyond the soldiering and helping friends cool off on their wedding day, Papilion was also always there for those in need.
"He used to joke about it and say he'd take in strays all of the time," said Barth. "Anyone who was having difficulty in their personal lives … he'd take them home and let them live with him. He'd help them out and get them through whatever difficult time they were going through."
Simison echoed Barth's remarks.
"We had a friend who, a few years ago, was going through a very difficult time himself. Jason was by his side 24-7 and did everything he could to make sure the guy was taken care of every night, looked after and wasn't left alone," she said. "He was known for doing that."
Humphreys said Papilion was "always one to lend a helping hand" — an example he has attempted to follow since Papilion's family heard the news of his death.
"I've been trying to help as much as I can this week, and it's hard. But if it was the other way around, he'd be the first in line," he explained. "He'd actually be pushing people out of the way to help. So I have to do everything I can, because that's what he would do. I don't know how I could do any less."
Those left behind are still trying to come to terms with the loss of a man they all said was a great friend.
"I don't think when he was alive, I ever told him how much I appreciated him," said Simison. "He was always a friend of my husband, but he was my friend too. That is what I would tell him."
"We all loved him, and we all want him back," added Barth. "None of us can believe he's gone."
Papilion is survived by Lorellei and his son, Rhone. A funeral for Papilion will be held at the Lt.-Col. D.V. Currie VC Armoury on Wednesday, starting at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family is opening a trust through RBC for Rhone.
In a previous version of this story, the Times-Herald erroneously reported that Master Cpl. Papilion died in a motorcycle crash on Aug. 8. The crash actually occurred on Aug. 6. The Times-Herald sincerely apologizes for this error.