CFB TRENTON, Ont. — Five-year-old Dakota Lee Allen whispered a prayer to her mother on the eve of Thursday’s repatriation ceremony at Canadian Forces Base Trenton.
“I said ‘Dear God, I wish we could get all our soldier’s back’,” the Prescott, Ont., youngster recalled shyly while standing with her family along the fence line of the tarmac moments before the repatriation of Pte. Alexandre Peloquin.
Dakota, who has attended a number of ceremonies in Trenton for the past several years, was joined by many others along either side of a section of Old Highway 2 that cuts through the base to pay tribute to the soldier as his remains arrived home.
Peloquin was killed Monday when an explosive device detonated during a foot patrol in Kandahar’s Panjwai District in Afghanistan.
He was based at CFB Valcartier near Quebec City and is the 119th Canadian soldier to die since the Afghan mission began in 2002.
The bluish-grey CC-177 Globemaster III air transport carrying his casket touched down shortly after 2 p.m. under a partly-sunny sky.
Media and civilian spectators watched from behind a fence along Highway 2, several hundred metres from the plane.
Photographers and videographers stood on ladders and used long lenses to capture what they could of the service, since fences and parked vehicles obscured much of the view.
As in past services, a white-robed padre led pallbearers in their slow, measured walk from the plane to the hearse as a bagpiper played.
Once the flag-covered metal casket was placed in the vehicle, about a dozen mourners assembled behind the hearse, with most — including a toddler — holding roses to place on top of the coffin.
Framed through the window of the hearse’s rear door, family members could be seen weeping and holding each other.
Along the fenceline, the Allen family said the two-hour drive to show support for a family of a soldier they never knew was all part of being Canadian.
“I really believe this is one of the best ways of showing respect for the troops and their sacrifice,” said Mark Allen, Dakota’s father.
“And it’s teaching her a respect of the military and what’s going on in Canada.”
Ontario Provincial Police and military police cruisers led the hearses past the base passenger terminal and onto Highway 2 before heading to Highway 401.