Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Two More Canadian Combat Engineers Killed in Afghanistan
More than 1,000 Canadian, U.S., Dutch and British soldiers turned out in the bright Afghanistan sunshine on Monday for the ramp ceremony to pay tribute to Major Yannick Pepin, 36 and Corporal and Jean-Francois Drouin, 21.
Both men were members of the 5 Combat Engineer Regiment based in Valcartier, Que. A military official at the base said Pepin was a native of Victoriaville, Que., and Drouin was born in Quebec City.
They died Sunday in a powerful roadside bomb blast that hit their armoured vehicle on a road southwest of Kandahar, bringing to 129 the total number of Canadian soldiers who have died as part of the Afghan mission since 2002. The vast majority of deaths ocuured since Canada began combat operations in Kandahar in January, 2006.
Maj. Pepin, the highest ranking Canadian killed in combat in Afghanistan, had lamented the death of two soldiers under his command just five weeks ago.
"The loss of these two is very difficult, but the work will continue" Pepin had told reporters Aug. 3, two days after the deaths of Sapper Matthieu Allard, 21, and Cpl. Christian Bobbitt, 23 - also in a roadside explosion.
The soldiers stood quietly as the flag-draped coffins carrying the two were loaded aboard a C-130 for the long flight home.
"Today the entire task force is mourning our fallen comrades," an emotional Col. Roch Lacroix, deputy commander for Task Force Kandahar said late Sunday night when announcing the deaths.
"Saying goodbye to Yannick and Jean-Francois so prematurely is hard for me, it is hard for their friends, and it's hard for their families," Lacroix said, standing in front of a cenotaph marking each of Canada's fallen soldiers
My heart goes out to the family, friends and fellow Soldiers of these two Canadian heroes who died doing what they believed in while performing one of the most dangerous jobs in the Army.