Bodies of Mounties killed in Haiti arrive in Canada

The bodies of two RCMP officers killed in the Haiti earthquake have arrived in Canada.

The bodies of two RCMP officers killed in the Haiti earthquake have arrived in Canada.

Soldiers and an RCMP honour guard welcome the caskets of Chief Supt. Doug Coates and Sgt. Mark Gallagher at a repatriation ceremony at CFB Trenton on Friday afternoon. ((CBC))

Flag-draped caskets carrying the bodies of Sgt. Mark Gallagher and Chief Supt. Doug Coates arrived under sunny skies at CFB Trenton, east of Toronto, from Haiti shortly after 3:30 p.m. ET.

Mounties in their red serge dress uniforms saluted as the caskets were taken from a military transport plane to hearses by RCMP pallbearers.

More than 100 people gathered outside the base to pay their respects and watch the repatriation ceremony in the biting cold from behind a chain-link fence.

"I think anyone who knew Doug is in shock right now," said Andy Brooke, a former Mountie who said he served with Coates on a counterterrorism team. "He was a happy guy. He was a quiet guy. He never searched for the limelight."

The notes of a piper's skirl carried through the frigid air as Mounties saluted. Family members clad in black came out to the hearses to pay their respects and mourn but did not speak publicly.

A procession of hearses carried the Mounties' caskets along the stretch of Ontario pavement renamed in honour of soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Coates, who lived in Gatineau, Que., and was based at the RCMP headquarters in Ottawa, was the most senior RCMP officer in Haiti.

He was promoted chief superintendent after his death.

Chief Supt. Doug Coates, left, and Sgt. Mark Gallagher had been in Haiti as part of a United Nations mission. ((RCMP))

Ramp ceremony Friday morning

The bodies left Haiti Friday morning following a ramp ceremony at the airport in Port-au-Prince.

The men are among 17 Canadians confirmed by the Foreign Affairs Department to have died in the Jan. 12 quake, which killed an estimated 200,000 people.

Gallagher, who was last based in Nova Scotia, where he acted as the RCMP spokesman for Halifax and the New Brunswick cities of Moncton and Bathurst, was remembered as a police officer with a common touch.

"Sgt. Gallagher was popular with his colleagues, with his pleasant demeanour and engaging smile," said Col. Ibrahim Moussa, the UN's chief of police in Haiti.

More than 200 people attended the ceremony in Port-au-Prince, including Canadian and Jamaican soldiers and Chinese police officers.

With files from The Canadian Press