Vancouver-born Michelle Lang — killed along with four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan on Wednesday — was an award-winning journalist whose career began at the Free Press newspaper in Prince George, B.C.


Calgary-based reporter Michelle Lang, 34, tries on her fragmentation vest and helmet at Kandahar Airfield on Dec. 13. ((Colin Perkel/Canadian Press))

Frank Peebles, now a reporter with the Prince George Citizen, had the difficult job Wednesday night of writing about the death of Lang, 34, a friend and former colleague.

Peebles said the two worked together in 1995 at the Free Press, where Lang had a memorable stint as a summer intern.

"She was so good," Peebles told CBC News, "that the editor convinced her to stay instead of going back to school and convinced all the people in the newsroom, including our bosses, to keep her on as staff."  

Peebles said it was clear Lang would go far in journalism.

"She had drive to learn and drive to know, from a moment-to-moment, issue-to-issue kind of basis to the vast and detailed minutiae of any subject that she put her mind to."  

He said Lang's curiosity was matched by her kindness.

'Caring and compassionate'

"When I was really sick, she would come and bring me soup and ginger ale, that kind of thing. [She was] very caring and compassionate."

After Prince George, Lang would move on to jobs at daily newspapers in Moose Jaw, Regina and then the Calgary Herald, where she won a National Newspaper Award last May for her coverage of health care and medicine.

Lang and the four soldiers were killed when the armoured vehicle they were in was hit by an explosive device in the city of Kandahar.

The reporter was engaged to a Calgary man, with a wedding planned for July 2010.

Her family in Vancouver was reported to be out of the country and not available for comment.