Cpl. Nathan Hornburg, 24, had only been in Afghanistan four months when he was killed by a mortar shell. ((DND/Pte. Melissa Spence/Canadian Press))

Hundreds of peoplepacked into Calgary's Roundup Centre Thursday to pay their last respects to hometown soldier Cpl. Nathan Hornburg.

Hornburg, 24,was killed bya mortar shell on Sept. 24 as he fixed a track that had fallen off a Leopard tank, becoming the 71st Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan.

Padre Will Hubbard said Hornburg was a good man who had a gift of great humour and great caring.

He said Hornburg, a member of the King's Own Calgary Regiment who volunteered to go to Afghanistan, supported his friends and fellow soldiers.

Sgt. Pablo Fernandez called Hornburg everything a soldier should be, saying time spent with his friend was "time spent in the presence of a hero."

Including Hornburg, 71 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have been killed in the war-torn country since the mission began in 2002.

Canada has about 2,500 soldiers in Afghanistan, most of them stationed in the south, as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

Canada deployed its troops shortly after the United States invaded in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

(With files from Canadian Press)