Tears and cheers welcome home fallen soldier (Canada)

There were both tears and applause for the fallen as Trooper Marc Diab returned to Canadian soil Thursday afternoon.


Diab, 22, of Mississauga was a Petawawa-based Royal Canadian Dragoon. He had been serving with The Royal Canadian Regiment's third battalion battle group.

He was killed Sunday in the mountainous Shah Wali Kot district northeast of Kandahar City around 1:15 p.m. local time The military said Diab four other Canadian soldiers were wounded when an improvised land mine exploded near their armoured vehicle. Three of the injured were later evacuated to a U.S. Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.

The bluish-grey CC-177 Globemaster III air transport carrying his casket touched down at 2 p.m. under a partly-sunny sky.

Dozens of mourners assembled behind the hearse after the casket was placed inside.

Even at a distance their cries of grief were audible above the afternoon's howling, frigid wind as family members placed flowers inside the hearse.

After several relatives had approached the hearse, however, there was a brief pause as mourners applauded - an apparent first for repatriations - before the much quieter grieving continued.

It was one of the first Afghanistan repatriations for Capt. John MacDonald, a Toronto-based public affairs officer.

"It's never a happy thing to see people mourning but in the military family we come together in times of grief to show our pride and solidarity and to pay our respects and condolences to the member's family," MacDonald said.

"It never gets any easier," said Lt. Annie Morin, a Trenton public affairs officer. "It's always a great honour to be part of the ceremony, but it's difficult because it's emotional."

Diab was the Canadian Forces' 112th loss in Afghanistan since 2002. About half of those deaths were caused by improvised explosive devices.

The military has increased its efforts to reduce such threats, and has disarmed hundreds of the devices.

"We do everything we can, (but) it is a challenge," Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance, Canada's lead general in Afghanistan, said Sunday.

Von: 13.03.2009, By Luke Hendry, www.trentonian.ca

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