CFB TRENTON, Ont. (CP) — Several family members wept openly Monday as the body of the latest Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan was taken from a Globemaster aircraft to the lament of bag pipes and carried to a waiting hearse.
“My son, my son!” Cpl. Joshua Caleb Baker’s grieving mother said as she reached out toward his flag-covered casket.
Baker, 24, died last Friday during a training accident in which four other soldiers were injured.
Baker, who was based in Edmonton, was serving with the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan.
About 200 people lined the fence at CFB Trenton to pay their last respects to Canada’s 140th soldier to be killed in Afghanistan.
Rick Foreman was one of those standing along Highway 2, known as Repatriation Row, located south of the base.
Foreman, who was holding a Canadian flag, said attending the ceremony is the least he can do for Baker who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“It’s hard when you think of the families that are over there suffering and are going to be putting the roses on the caskets,” he said.
Foreman said it’s heartwarming to see the kind of support the convoy receives as it drives the Highway of Heroes to Toronto.
People pack overpasses on the route, to catch a glimpse of the motorcade. He said many salute the troops by wearing red and waving Canadian flags.
“It’s meaningful to the families as they pass by,” he said. “I’ve often seen families pass by with the windows rolled down and tears in their eyes and just saying thank you. That makes it all worthwhile.”
Stephen Farrell has been to at least 85 repatriation ceremonies.
He said seven years ago people were allowed to go right up to the terminal, to watch the aircraft carrying the body taxi in slowly.
He’s concerned that the new construction popping up as the base expands could threaten the vantage point of supporters standing outside the fence.
“ We have to come out here,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what the weather is or the time of year. It has to be done. It has to be repeated unfortunately.”
Family members grieve beside the hearse carrying the remains of Cpl. Joshua Caleb Baker of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment during a repatriation ceremony at CFB Trenton, Ont., Monday. Baker was killed and four other soldiers were injured as a result of a training accident at a range northeast of Kandahar city Friday.