Latest slain Canadian soldier had 'warrior spirit 100 per cent'
'His idea was not to give candy to children, but to kill insurgents.'
The Manitoba-based soldier who is Canada's latest fatality in Afghanistan was "a committed warrior" and "a leader through and through," according to his battle group's commander.
Sgt. Jason Boyes, 32, was born in Napanee, Ont. He was a member of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based at Canadian Forces Base Shilo, and had recently arrived for his third tour in Afghanistan.
Boyes was killed by an explosive device while on foot patrol Sunday night with members of the Afghan National Security Forces in southern Afghanistan, military officials said Monday.
The blast occurred at 8:20 p.m. local time in Zangabad in the Panjwaii district, about 35 kilometres southwest of the city of Kandahar, Brig.-Gen. Guy Laroche told reporters. Boyes was flown to the military hospital at Kandahar Airfield, where he died of his wounds, Laroche said.
Lt.-Col. Dave Corbould, commander of Boyes' battle group, said the soldier was "a committed warrior."
Boyes was "a leader through and through," he said. "He was someone we can all emulate. He represented the warrior spirit 100 per cent."
Regimental Sgt.-Maj. Brian Semenko also described Boyes as a committed soldier. He said he had talked a lot about the mission with Boyes over the past few years.
"He was really dedicated to the idea of serving overseas," Semenko said. "He felt the best way to serve was to do it overseas. His idea was not to give candy to children, but to kill insurgents."
Laroche said Boyes had arrived in the last few weeks with a new rotation of troops.
"Our thoughts are with the family and friends of our lost comrade in this very difficult time," he said. "We have lost a brother and a fine soldier who answered a call of duty one last time."
In a statement issued by the military, Boyes' family said they are "devastated" by the news.
"Jason loved his job, he loved the military and his fellow soldiers loved him back. His world was his daughter, Mackenzie, his wife, Alison, his dogs and his family," the statement said.
"This was his third tour in Afghanistan. We have always, and still do, support this mission."
Condolences from Harper, Jean
Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered his "deepest condolences to the loved ones of Sgt. Jason Boyes."
In a statement Monday afternoon, Harper said Boyes was "a well-respected member of the Canadian Forces" and "an exceptionally brave soldier who deserves the support and gratitude of all Canadians."
Boyes "was an extremely brave Canadian who made the ultimate sacrifice while proudly serving his country. This is a tragic loss for the Canadian Forces and all of Canada," said Defence Minister Peter MacKay in a statement.
Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean said Boyes "deserves our respect and admiration" and offered condolences to his family and fellow soldiers.
"We share your grief and honour his memory," Jean said in a statement.
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion also offered his condolences, saying "his sacrifice will not be forgotten."
"This profound tragedy reminds us of the selfless courage that members of the Canadian Forces demonstrate every day, as they risk their lives to bring security and stability to the people of Afghanistan. For their bravery and commitment, we owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude."
Canada has lost 81 soldiers and one diplomat in Afghanistan since the mission began in early 2002.
Laroche said the foot patrols are one way Afghan and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops show their presence in the area, which is a Taliban stronghold.
In recent weeks, Canadian soldiers have been frequently patrolling the area on foot and are aware that there are many improvised explosive devices and mines in the region, Laroche said.
That was the reason they increased their presence and conducted many operations to counter the IED threats, he said.
A number of soldiers and civilians have been targets of recent IED attacks across the volatile Panjwaii region.
Seven Canadian soldiers were wounded on Jan. 16 when their vehicles were struck by roadside bombs. Five Afghans died three days later after a taxi they were riding in hit a similar device.
Danes among dead in blast
Meanwhile, officials said a suicide car bomber is believed to have killed two Danish soldiers, a Czech special forces soldier and an Afghan translator for the troops, on Monday. Three Afghan civilians were also killed in the blast.
Maj.-Gen. Poul Kiaerskou, head of the Danish Army Operational Command, said the Danes were part of a unit that had just arrived at a bazaar in the Gereshk district of Helmand province when "presumably," a suicide bomber killed them.
They were the first Danes to be killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan. Denmark has 600 troops in Afghanistan serving under ISAF.
- Sgt. Jason Boyes was born in Napanee, Ont., not Lynn Lake, Man., as originally reported.Mar 17, 2008 2:50 AM ET
With files from the Associated Press and Canadian Press