TRENTON, Ont. — The first Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan since Canada ended its combat role in the war-torn country was returned to home soil Tuesday.
Bagpipes played as the flag-draped coffin bearing Master Cpl. Byron Greff was carried across the tarmac at the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, in eastern Ontario, and placed into a waiting hearse.
The soldier’s widow, pushing her newborn daughter in a stroller, walked over to the hearse and placed two roses on the coffin. Her young son Kellar was then lifted up so he could add his own rose.
The youngster put an arm around his mother’s waist as other family members paid their respects. The hearse then began its journey along the Highway of Heroes to the coroner’s office in downtown Toronto.
The Edmonton-based soldier was one of 17 people killed Saturday by a suicide bomber in Kabul. He served with the Third Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
Greff was among the 900 Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan as part of a mission to train military personnel in that country until 2014.
His death brings the number of Canadian soldiers killed as a result of Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan to 158.
Governor General David Johnston, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Chief of Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk also attended the late afternoon ceremony in Trenton.
In Greff’s hometown of Lacombe, hundreds of yellow ribbons were tied around posts in the community north of Red Deer.
In Ottawa, the New Democrats’ defence critic called for an end to the Afghan training mission after question period Tuesday. David Christopherson said the Canadian public has been misled about the dangers of the mission.
“I think what Canadians now understand is that as long as we have soldiers in Afghanistan, they’re going to be at risk. Their lives are going to be at risk and most Canadians believe the effort we have made in Afghanistan is more than our fair share and that this is not the mission for us,” Christopherson said.
The NDP has long opposed the combat mission in Afghanistan and demanded in 2006 that all troops be withdrawn.