Comrades honour slain Canadian soldier
Soldiers pay respects to Pte. Patrick Lormand at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan
Soldiers gathered at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan Monday night to pay their respects as the body of Pte. Patrick Lormand was loaded onto a transport plane bound for Canadian soil.
Lormand, 21, of the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment based in Quebec City, was killed and four others were injured in a roadside blast from an improvised explosive device on Sunday afternoon, the military said.
The soldiers were patrolling in the volatile Panjwaii district, where two other soldiers were killed just a week ago. The armoured vehicle that Lormand was riding in struck the device about 13 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city, Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance said Monday.
About 2,500 Canadian, U.S., Dutch and British soldiers stood quietly in the nighttime ceremony Monday as Lormand's flag-draped coffin was slowly carried aboard a C-130 Hercules aircraft for the long trip home.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Governor General Michaëlle Jean all issued statements offering their condolences to Lormand's family.
"It broke my heart today to learn of the death," Jean wrote in a statement published on her website. "We have lost an extraordinary Canadian."
130th soldier killed
Lormand, known as Lorm to his friends, is survived by his parents, Jacques and Sylvie Lormand. He is the 130th Canadian soldier to die since the Afghan mission began in 2002. One diplomat and two Canadian aid workers have also been killed.
The injured soldiers were treated at the medical facility at Kandahar Airfield and released, Vance said. Their names are not being released.
The death comes only one week after two other soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb while on patrol in the same area.
Canadian Forces Base Valcartier commander Colonel Jean-Marc Lauthier also offered his condolences to Lormand's family in a rare statement to the media.
"We've lost another fine young Canadian. It's a tragedy," said Lautheir, who said he has decided to begin issuing statements concerning fallen soldiers for the first time since 2007 after attending the repatriation ceremonies of Maj. Yannick Pepin, 36, and Cpl. Jean-François Drouin, 31, last week.
Lormand was from Chute-A-Blondeau, Ont., a small village on the Ontario-Quebec border, and was based in Valcartier, Que.
"We have to publicly recognize this, recognize the sacrifice, let the families, the extended families, not necessarily the immediate family but the extended family across the country know that we care so much for a fallen comrade," he said Monday.
Vance described Lormand as a "calm and determined" soldier who was well-liked for his good sense of humour and his efforts at raising the morale of his section and platoon.
Lormand was "a good soul, who tried every day to do the right thing and saw the results of his efforts, a chance to succeed on a wider scale on behalf of Canadians and Afghans alike," Vance said.
Lormand took pride in the mission and was dedicated to his career as an infantryman, Vance said.
"Like those you have seen before, [he] came here to do right by Afghanistan, to serve Canada's objective, to help bring peace, a chance for a lasting security and a better environment to live and raise a family," Vance said.
Disputes senator's column
Vance's lengthy and emotional statement regarding Lormand came a day after an opinion column calling the mission "futile" was published in the Montreal Gazette.
On Sunday, Senator Colin Kenny, who heads a federal committee on security and defence, wrote that Canada cannot achieve its goals in Afghanistan and urged the government to call for a retreat.
"What we hoped to accomplish in Afghanistan has proved to be impossible," Kenny wrote. "We are hurtling toward a Vietnam ending."
Vance said "Neither [Lormand] nor his family benefit from uninformed opinions about what his goals were and the techniques he used to achieve them."
Canada is in Afghanistan at the request of the Afghan government and as part of a UN-mandated, NATO-led mission, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said in a written statement.
"As a Canadian, Pte. Lormond deserves the gratitude and respect of his nation. As a soldier his steadfast strength and commitment will be remembered as an example to us all," MacKay said.
With files from The Canadian Press