VICTORIA — Fallen Canadian soldier Lt. Andrew Richard Nuttall was so full of life his mother would exclaim he smiles while he sleeps, mourners at his emotional funeral heard Monday.
Nuttall touched many hearts in his too-short 30 years with his adventurous spirit, inquisitive mind, radiant personality and pure heart, the 1,000 people who filled a Victoria church heard.
Nuttall, born in Prince Rupert, B.C., was killed Dec. 23 in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device blew up as he was leading a foot patrol with his Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in the Panjwaii district southwest of Kandahar City.
Fellow officer Lt. Dylan Dewar told the funeral that when he heard of Nuttall’s injuries and subsequent death in action, he prayed the news was wrong.
Nuttall was known as Nutts among the Canadian troops, said Dewar.
Choking back tears, Dewar described hearing about the incident.
“I was there when the call came in that Andrew was wounded and eventually killed in action,” said Dewar. “Immediately my heart sank.”
Dewar said he is not a religious person, but he started praying there was a mistake.
“He chose to lead from the front. Andrew gave his life to protect those around him. We will never forget him.”
Family and friends described Nuttall as a gifted young man who pursued life to the fullest whether it was surfing or enjoying music.
They said he was he was completely committed to the Afghanistan mission because he believed Canada was bringing good things to a disadvantaged nation.
Long-time friend Scott Cressman said Nuttall’s circle of friends, many of whom are university educated, questioned why he chose to serve in the military, but Nuttall convinced them the military was the place where he could better direct his life while offering hope to others.
“He found his passion,” said Cressman. “He loved our quality of life. It took his death for me to finally realize he’s my real-life hero.”
Uncle George Pickering said Nuttall was always looking to broaden his horizons, whether it was through education, sports or arts, but it was his decision to join Canada’s military three years ago that increased his personal focus and his dedication to contribute to change.
“He always had a smile on his face. His mother said he even smiled when he slept.
“God bless you Andrew, and God speed in your next journey.”
A full military procession made its way through the streets of downtown Victoria before the funeral service at the historic Christ Church Cathedral.
Nuttall’s flag-covered coffin was lifted onto a military carriage and transported to the cathedral. The procession included pall bearers from the military and Nuttall’s friends from outside the military.
The Naden Band, from nearby CFB Esquimalt, headquarters of Canada’s Pacific Naval Fleet, led the procession, which also included military officers, RCMP officers and Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Gary Lunn. Nuttall’s parents were also there.
The downtown procession route leading to the cathedral was closed to traffic as the carriage and marchers passed. Victoria Police and firefighters stood at the roadside as the procession passed and some onlookers held Canadian flags.
Military officials said processions are a way for the community to pay its respects.
The Very Reverend Dr. Logan McMenamie said the service for Nuttall is “an opportunity for the community of this nation to grieve Andrew’s loss.”
He said the death of a young person in the prime of life is overwhelming.
“His sudden departure has created a deep void for his family,” said McMenamie. “There are no easy answers. There are no sound bites to soften the pain of loss.”
The cathedral erupted into spontaneous applause at the conclusion of the service when McMenamie said Nuttall wanted everybody to make a difference.
Nuttall’s younger brother, John, said his brother always treated him as if he was a gift.
“He was the best brother I could always ask for,” said John, fondly recalling the two brothers would stay up late at night playing music.
He said Nuttall used to call himself DJ-Nutt.
Nuttall is the 134th Canadian to die in Afghanistan.
Since Nuttall’s death, four other Canadian soldiers and a journalist were killed in Afghanistan.