Soldier remembered as 'happiest man in NATO'
The fiancée of one ofthe Canadian soldiers killed this week in Afghanistan said he strongly believed in the mission and was described by his colleagues as the "happiest man in NATO."
Anna Thede described Pte. Joel Wiebe, 22,as someone with a great sense of humour who lovedto joke around andmade people laugh.
"Joel was a very giving person who was always ready with smile and a joke and he always wanted to cheer up his friends," Thede said in Edmonton, surrounded by Wiebe's family.
"His army buddies often called him the happiest man in NATO."
Wiebe, along with Cpl. Stephen Frederick Bouzane and Sgt. Christos Karigiannis, were killed Wednesday when their unarmoured all-terrain vehicle hit a roadside bomb near the town of Sperwan Ghar, southwest of Kandahar, astheywere transporting supplies on a well-travelled route to a checkpoint near a base.
All three were from the Edmonton-based Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. Since Canada began the mission to Afghanistan in 2002, the regiment haslost 27 soldiers — nearly half of the country's total losses, of 60 troops and one diplomat.
Yet Wiebe had no reservations about joining the more than 2,000 other Canadian troops deployed as part of the NATO-ledInternational Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, Thedesaid.
She said Wiebe hadwanted to be a soldier since he was a child.
"He strongly believed in the mission to which Canada is committed to in Afghanistan and he was dedicated to that mission's success," she said.
Thede said the two were set to be married next February and had gotten engaged four hours before Wiebe got on a bus to be deployed to Afghanistan.
It was Wiebe's first deployment.
The three soldierswere scheduled to return home in August.