Than most. Thats all I have to say.... {see hi-lited paragraph}

Latest Afghan casualty honoured as journey home begins

By Matthew Fisher, Postmedia News July 21, 2010 2:46 PM

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan Sapper Brian Collier was bid adieu Wednesday night by Defence Minister Peter MacKay, Canada's top soldier, Gen. Walt Natynczyk, and several thousand fellow soldiers.

Collier's casket, adorned with a Canadian flag and his green engineer's beret, was slow marched by eight grim sappers past long lines of mourners and then placed in a CC-130 Hercules transport aircraft for the 11,000 kilometre journey home.

But before the 17th Canadian combat engineer to die in Afghanistan began his final journey, his commander, Maj. Jim Smith, praised him as "absolutely selfless, "a true warrior" and "a true hero" who "put his friends and section mates first."

Smith recalled how in early June, Collier had only been metres away when an improvised explosive device blew up, killing another combat engineer, Sgt. Martin Goudreault of Sudbury, Ont.

"He was thrown to the ground with damage to his hearing and was knocked unconscious," Smith said of Collier. "Regardless of his own injuries," when Collier regained consciousness, "he immediately took command of the situation, telling those nearby to stay still as he cleared a lane to Sgt. Goudreault so that first responders could react. He then grabbed one of his section mates and, on his own, he cleared a helipad, an emergency helicopter landing zone for the evacuation of the sergeant."
{not many of us could have accomplished that, under those circumstances}

Collier of Bradford, Ont. and 1 Combat Engineer Regiment in Edmonton was just past two months into his first tour in Afghanistan when he was killed. The 24 year old is survived his mother, Carol, and his father, James, as well as a sister.

He died Tuesday morning when a homemade landmine exploded while he was on a foot patrol 15 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City. He was the 151st Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan since Ottawa first sent troops here in 2002 and the 13th killed here this year.

"He gave his life bravely in Afghanistan for a cause he and Canadians feel strongly about," MacKay said at the end of a four-day visit that he and Natynczyk had with the troops. The minister, who spoke with Collier's family by telephone on Wednesday, delayed his departure so that he could attend the ramp ceremony.

Combat engineers have one of the most dangerous jobs in Afghanistan. With improvised explosive devices the Taliban's weapon of choice, engineers are frequently called out to find and neutralize them.

After Goudreault's death "Brian knew exactly how dangerous his job was," Padre Carol Bateman told the several thousand soldiers gathered on the tarmac for the ramp ceremony. "In spite of his own involvement and most likely fear, Brian was convinced that he should carry on with the mission."

His commander, Smith, concurred. After the first explosion which killed his friend, Goudreault, Smith said he had several conversations with Collier and that "once he recovered from his injuries, he was very eager to get back out and join his section on the battlefield."

The last ramp ceremony before Wednesday was on June 27 when Master Cpl. Kristal Giesebrecht and Pte. Andrew Miller of CFB Petawawa in the upper Ottawa Valley were similarly honoured.

The medics had been killed a day earlier as Canadian troops responded to a call for help from an Afghan family in Panjwaii whose doorway had been rigged by the Taliban with a homemade bomb.

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