Quebec soldier's body arrives at CFB Trenton
CFB TRENTON, Ont. -- The body of a young Canadian soldier who was killed by a roadside bomb last Sunday arrived back in Canada to a solemn military ceremony Wednesday.
Pte. Simon Longtin, 23, was in an armoured vehicle travelling in a convoy when it struck the bomb about 20 kilometres west of Kandahar City. He had been in Afghanistan just three weeks.
An Honor Guard carries the casket of Private Simon Longtin to hearse at the Canadian Forces Base Trenton, August 22, 2007. Private Longtin, attached to the 22 Regiment based at Valcartier, Quebec, was killed on August 19, 2007 in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb detonated underneath the vehicle he was in.
An honour guard of eight soldiers, in their dark green dress uniforms and wearing white gloves, met the Hercules 130 transport plane carrying his flag-draped coffin back from Afghanistan.
His parents and girlfriend and about seven other family members, each carrying a single rose, met the plane. Some of the family wept quietly as a trumpeter played Amazing Grace while his coffin was carried from the tarmac to a black hearse.
About 100 fellow soldiers, some from CFB Gagetown who had recently returned from Afghanistan, and dignitaries including Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean and Defence Minister Peter MacKay were in attendance.
Longtin’s body was taken to Toronto, where an autopsy will be performed before it is returned to Longueuil, Que., just south of Montreal, this weekend for a funeral. Details for Longtin’s funeral have not yet been released.
Longtin was the first member of the Van Doo to be killed while serving in Afghanistan. The Royal 22nd Regiment, as it is officially known, took command of Canada’s operations in Afghanistan on Aug. 1.
A native of Longueuil, Que., he had been living with his girlfriend in Quebec City before shipping out to Afghanistan Aug. 1. The Van Doo is based at CFB Valcartier, which is just outside of Quebec City.
In a statement released after he died, his family said they are devastated by the death.
“Simon left us in dignity while proudly serving his country with tremendous honour, amongst his brothers in arms in Afghanistan,” the message said. “He left for his mission at peace with himself and his family.”
Longtin’s fellow soldiers said he was the joker of the platoon, but when it came to his duty and the mission in Afghanistan, he showed an unyielding conviction.
His death was a shock to his comrades. “Everybody’s morale is really low right now,” said one soldier.
The death pushed the Canadian military toll in Afghanistan to 67. One diplomat has also died.
The Canadian Forces contribution in Afghanistan consists of about 2,500 soldiers. Troops are rotated every six to nine months.
Canada’s military commitment ends in February 2009. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he will seek a consensus from Parliament before extending the mission.
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