From inside an army outpost carved into a craggy mountainside this winter, Trooper Michael Hayakaze reflected on the smiles of Afghan children. He said that whenever he saw them, it made him feel optimistic. "When the kids come running up to the road and they smile, it's the best," the 25-year-old soldier told the Washington Times reporter in December. "When we first showed up, you know, they used to run and hide, or they would throw stones at our tanks," he explained. "And you know they get that from their parents. So if they're not afraid of us, that means it's getting better."Last July, Hayakaze told the Toronto Star's Petti Fong in Edmonton he expected to be in Afghanistan the following month and felt frustrated by debates about whether Canada should pull out of the combat mission before 2009. "When we hear of these tragedies, it's always depressing and always makes me go quiet and think about why we're really there," he said. "What happens to all those men and women who've died if we just leave?" Statement from Minister of Defence: The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, issued the following statement today on the death of a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan: "It is with great sadness I learned today of the death of Trooper Michael Yuki Hayakaze. This brave Canadian died while traveling in a convoy through the Mushan region in Kandahar province. The thoughts and prayers of all Canadians go out to his family, friends and comrades at this very difficult time. The re-supply patrol was traveling in the Mushan region of the District of Panjawayi, 45 kilometers west of Kandahar City, when it was struck by an Improvised Explosive Device. This cowardly attack will not deter us from carrying out this important and much needed mission with our NATO partners. Canada's participation in this United Nations-mandated NATO mission is a true reflection of Canadian values: helping those in need and defending the interests of those who can't yet defend themselves. We will never forget Trooper Hayakaze whose self-sacrifice served to make life better for so many others."
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RAMP CEREMONY - Kandahar Airforce Base, Afghanistan
Standing silently in the rising sun, a chaplain wept Tuesday as the body of the Canadian soldier left the Kandahar Air Field. Like the chaplain himself, Trooper Michael Yuki Hayakaze was only days away from leaving this dusty country when he was killed by a roadside bomb Sunday. Clutching each others shoulders as they bore his coffin up the tarmac, the pallbearers - his comrades in the field - also wept, tears cutting paths down the dust on their cheeks. To orders shouted in the various languages of coalition forces in southern Afghanistan, over 2,500 soldiers from several different countries lined the tarmac to salute Hayakaze on his final journey. Some had just arrived in theatre, their uniforms still free of the dirt that clings to so much in Kandahar. It was a sombre welcome to the battefield. But Padre Maj. Pierre Bergeron told them they should keep memories of Hayakaze with them as they prepared to take up the fight. "Our prayer this morning is that we continue to serve with resolve, determination and courage as we remember those who have gone before us," he said. "Courage is not the absence of fear but the determination to do what is right in spite of our fear. Yes, we will remember him."
Wednesday, March 5th, 2008
Please note: The blizzard conditions enveloping Ontario Wednesday have led to a one-day delay in the repatriation ceremony for Canada's most recently fallen soldier, military officials have announced. The Repatriation Ceremony of Trooper Michael Yuki Hayakaze, 25, of the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians), based at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, Alberta, is delayed until Thursday.
Where: 8 Wing Trenton, Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ontario.
When: Thursday March 6, 2008 at 2:00 p.m.
Present to pay their respects will be Her Excellency, the Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, The Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, the Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and other dignitaries.
Pay your respects to Trooper Hayakaze and his family
Join fellow Canadians on the 401 overpasses between Trenton and Toronto (Along our Highway of Heroes). Hold a Canadian flag, wear red, or just be present. Honour our fallen soldier.
REPATRIATION CEREMONY - Trenton
The military plane carrying the flag-draped casket of Trooper Michael Yuki Hayakaze landed at CFB Trenton Thursday afternoon.
Hayakaze's brother, along with his mother Machiko Inoue and father Ted Hayakaze, joined Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean and Defence Minister Peter MacKay to begin the sombre repatriation ceremony.
Maj. Isabelle Robitaille said Thursday that it was a touching ceremony, as 100 people - including many from the general public - came to pay their respects to the fallen soldier.
"The general public stood outside the fenced area. It was a large crowd considering it's a weekday," she said. "Unfortunately after so many of these ceremonies, they are still there to support the soldiers. The mood was very touching."
Military retirees Jim Campbell of Trenton and Geoff Brogden of nearby Consecon each spent about 35 years in the service. Campbell, a communications operator, said he'd attended about 15 repatriations from Afghanistan. It was a first for Brogden, who had been a flight engineer.
When asked why they wanted to watch the repatriation in person, each answered with one word: "Respect."
The 1st Canadian Army Veterans motorcycle club, a regular presence at repatriations, watched from along the fence surrounding the base.
"It never gets any easier," member Tim McCully said, adding his thoughts are not only for the fallen, but their families. "The families that are home waiting and wondering -- that's the hardest duty."
Hayakaze's hearse, followed by family members, travelled to Toronto with a police escort along the Highway of Heroes, a stretch of Ontario's Highway 401 renamed to honour Canada's fallen soldiers as people lined the highway and overpasses to honour our fallen soldier, our hero.
“It’s never good to be back out here for the loss of a solider,” said Seargeant-at-Arms Dave Galbraith, of the Cobourg Legion, who was present at Cobourg’s Ontario Street bridge. “But it’s good to show support. The troops need to know that people are backing them.”
Anna Marie Cullen and her husband Karl, of Peterborough, came to Cobourg to celebrate the birth of their new grandson on Thursday, and honoured his birth by saluting Trooper Hayakaze.
“One life goes and another comes,” said Ms. Cullen.
Also on hand was Officer Bob Carson of the Toronto Emergency Medical Services Honour Guard. “I’m really patriotic that way,” he said, of his presence at the bridge. “It’s nice to see the turnout. It makes me very proud.”