KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The body of Canada’s latest victim of Afghanistan’s insurgency began its journey home Tuesday after soldiers gathered for a grim ceremony at Kandahar Airfield.
Despite the loss, the military declared the operation in which he died a success, while his family expressed “deep sadness.”
The casket carrying Pte. Alexandre Peloquin, 20, who died Monday when he stepped on an explosive device, was loaded onto a Hercules transport in the evening ceremony.
About 2,000 soldiers and civilians were at the airfield to pay their respects as Peloquin’s body left the blood-stained country forever.
Lt.-Col. Jocelyn Paul called it a “very tough day” filled with conflicting emotions.
“On one hand, we are grieving the loss of a friend and colleague,” Paul said.
“On the other hand, we know that we had tremendous success during that operation.”
Nicknamed Pelo Black by his colleagues, Peloquin was the 119th Canadian soldier to die as part of the UN-sanctioned international effort.
In a statement, Peloquin’s family called him “passionate” about life and his life in the military.
“We find a certain comfort knowing he did not die in vain because he was doing what he loved,” the family said.
“Your devotion is no doubt the greatest memory that people who knew you and loved you will cherish the most. All these little moments in life will remain engraved in our memory forever.”