As well, my heart cries with a family member of one of the soldiers. She had read this blog and communicated with me during "our" deployments. I can't imagine what she is going through.
My prayers are with them. As well - to the soldiers - remain focused and stay strong. We are proud of you and we grieve with you.
Two Canadian soldiers, as well as one member of the Afghan National Police and one Afghan interpreter were killed on December 27, 2008, when an explosive device detonated in their vicinity in the Panjwayi District.
Four other Canadian soldiers and one Afghan interpreter were injured in the incident, which occurred at approximately 12:15 p.m. local time, approximately 25 kilometres west of Kandahar City. The soldiers were conducting security operations in the area when the explosion occurred.
Killed in action was Warrant Officer Gaétan Roberge, from the 2nd Battalion, The Irish Regiment of Canada. He was serving as a member of the Police Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team.
Also killed in action was Sergeant Gregory John Kruse, from 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, Canadian Forces Base Petawawa. He was serving as a member of 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group.
Members of Task Force Kandahar are committed to improving security and increasing development in Kandahar Province. I think of the family and friends here as well as military families - comrades of our fallen soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan during this sad time.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Ramp Ceremony - Kandahar- Saying Goodbye
Tears stream down a pallbearer's face during a ramp ceremony Sunday at Kandahar Airfield for Warrant Officer Gaétan Roberge and Sgt. Gregory John Kruse, who were killed by a roadside bomb. Photo Credit: CBC
The two Canadians, acting as mentors for Afghan police, were killed by a roadside bomb Saturday on a security patrol in Panjwai district, west of Kandahar city. An Afghan police officer and an interpreter also died.
On Sunday, both men were remembered as dedicated, professional soldiers who loved their jobs.
Roberge, a member of the Royal 22nd Regiment, had just returned from leave the day before his death, and had immediately insisted on rejoining his crew in the work of mentoring and training the Afghan National Police force.
Capt. Shane Gapp, Roberge's platoon commander, described Roberge as an exceptionally strong man, who once ate eight portions of military rations and could lift a truck.
"He was quick to laugh, quick to love, and always did the best that he could," Gapp said.
Roberge was also a man of strong faith "who didn't hesitate in demanding communion or a prayer of support whenever he felt the need," said Padre Michel Dion.
Dion offered condolences to Roberge's wife, Joanne, and his four children.
"Je me souviens," he said.
Kruse - an engineer section commander with 24 Field Squadron, 2 Combat Engineer Regiment - was a quiet and gentle man who loved being a sapper and who took pride in his work.
"He cared about his soldiers above just about everything else and the only thing he cared second to his soldiers was absolute success in everything he (did) as a soldier," said Maj. Matthew Sandy, commanding officer of 24 Field Squadron.
Kruse also worked with the squadron's quick-reaction force, responding to dangerous calls involving IEDs.
That's what he was doing when he and other members of the quick-reaction force, came out to examine a homemade bomb discovered by Roberge and his team of Afghan police officers.
Military officials said it wasn't yet clear whether it was that bomb that caused the explosion, or if another had been planted in the area. The matter remains under investigation.
Sandy said many soldiers owe their lives to the work Kruse did in Afghanistan.
"As an engineer, he gets people to where they want to go and once they are there, he makes sure they are safe to do their jobs. That's what he does," Sandy said.
At their home base in Petawawa, Ont. the soldiers were remembered Sunday.
"It is always difficult to receive the news that our comrades have fallen, but it is especially difficult at this time of year," said Col. Dean Milner, commander of the 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group at CFB Petawawa.
At the ramp ceremony, Padre Dion read from an e-mail written shortly before Christmas by Kruse's wife, Jill.
"Thank you to all the soldiers who continue to make sacrifices for us to enjoy the life that we have here in Canada. Christmas has finally come and our soldier isn't home and for over 2,700 families their soldiers won't be home either and for some families they won't have their soldiers sit at their table for Christmas dinner again. Please keep praying for the troops who are deployed, the families who support them and the families whose soldiers have fallen," the e-mail stated.
Kruse was also the father of three girls, including daughter Kari and twins Victoria and Megan.
"This past year has been a very difficult one. It is coming to an end under a cloud of grief and terrible sadness for these families cruelly struck by loss, for our soldiers, for Canada, for Afghanistan and for the entire world," Governor General Michaelle Jean said Sunday.
"We recognize the tremendous courage of these women and men who have chosen to serve with the Canadian Forces and who are prepared to make incredible sacrifices, facing every peril to help people in danger and aid them in their desire to achieve freedom and security."
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff praised the soldiers as dedicated to their country.
"The deaths of Warrant Officer Gaetan Roberge and Sgt. Gregory John Kruse remind us of the daily risks and sacrifices the men and women of our Canadian Forces make in service of our country," Ignatieff said in a statement Sunday. "We are grateful for their dedication to Canada and to building a safe and secure Afghanistan."
Please join others on the overpasses of the highway of heroes. (Hwy 401 between Trenton and Toronto). The entourage is expected to pass through Northumberland between 3:00 and 3:30 p.m. and then continue through Durham Region betweeen 3:30 and 4:15 p.m.
Wave a flag or wear red - let the families know they are not alone as we grieve by their sides.
See condolence messages below.