Canada's special forces held a secret ramp ceremony Thursdayfor a soldierwho fell to his death from a communications tower in Afghanistan, the military said.
Master Cpl. Anthony Klumpenhouwer, 25, who grew up in a small farming community near Listowel, Ont.,was conducting surveillance earlier this week in Kandahar City.
Klumpenhouwer's family said he was the second-eldest boy in a family of 13 children and had planned to marry his girlfriend.
"It is with great sadness that we learned of Anthony’s death in Afghanistan. He was such an important part of all our lives and will be dearly missed. The coming days and weeks will be an intensely private time for the family," they said in astatement released Friday.
In interviews with the Toronto Star, his family also describedthe 25-year-oldas a born soldier and a country boy at heart, even though he studied computer science for a time in Toronto.
The newspaper reported on Friday that special forces held a low-key secret ramp ceremony, during which Klumpenhouwer's flag-draped coffin was loaded into an awaiting plane for transport back to Canada.
Little is known about Klumpenhouwer's duties in Afghanistan other than his status as a member of Canada's special forces.
In Canada, that elite commando unit is known as Joint Task Force 2.
JTF2 fighters operate under extreme secrecy and are considered to be among the country's finest military specialists.
Amilitary spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the CBC the incident was the first fatality during a mission in the unit's history.
"I believe that this was a routine activity that was underway," Col. Mike Cessford said in Kandahar on Wednesday. "It was not operationally related at this time. It was simply, unfortunately, an accident."
Klumpenhouwer is the 54th Canadian soldier to have died in Afghanistan since 2002 and the 10th to have died this year.