Ramp ceremony held for fallen soldier

The body of a Canadian soldier killed Sunday in Afghanistan has begun the long journey home.

Body on way back to Canada

The body of a Canadian soldier killed Sunday in Afghanistan has begun the long journey home.

Hundreds of soldiers gathered on the tarmac of Kandahar Airfield early Tuesday local time to say goodbye to Sgt. Martin Goudreault, who was on his third tour in Afghanistan when he was killed by an improvised explosive device.

Goudreault, 35, died while on foot patrol roughly 15 kilometres southwest of the city of Kandahar, Brig.-Gen. Jon Vance said.

"Prior to the IED strike, this patrol was searching for a weapons cache in the rural area of Panjwaii district," Vance said.

"Insurgents hide their weapons and IEDs amongst the civilian population, and soldiers like Martin — both Canadian and Afghan — are working each and every day to find and eliminate these weapons caches."

Lt. Matthew Hoare said he won't soon forget the battlefield lessons he learned from Goudreault.

"The guidance that he gave me personally is something that I will always carry with me," Hoare said. "It's a loss I think we're all going to feel."

Goudreault, who was born in Sudbury, Ont., was a 15-year veteran of the Canadian Forces. He was on his fifth overseas deployment when he died.

"Sgt. Goudreault was a model soldier; someone the soldiers in his section could look up to and emulate," Vance said.

He was from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment, based in Edmonton. He was serving in Afghanistan as a member of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group, the military said in a statement.

Harper, Jean give condolences

Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed his condolences to Goudreault's family and friends.

"The lives of the Afghan people are better due to the efforts of Canadians like Sgt. Goudreault who provide security and stability," Harper said in a statement.

"These are the cornerstones that will allow the country to rebuild and grow into the future."

Gov.-Gen. Michaëlle Jean said she was profoundly saddened by the news.

"Yet again, we have received a cruel reminder of the dangers that daily confront our troops deployed to this troubled area of the world," she said in a statement.

"We admire them all the more as their sense of duty compels them to answer their country's call with valour, determination and incredible generosity."

Goudreault is the 147th Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan since the military began its combat mission in 2002.

With files from The Canadian Press