KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Sgt. Martin Goudreault was looking for a stockpile of insurgent weapons shortly after dawn when a makeshift bomb detonated, killing him.
On his third tour of Afghanistan, Goudreault would have been more aware than most of the dangers leading such a patrol.
But he wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“Sgt. Goudreault died what he loved doing best: leading his section from the front,” Brig.-Gen. Jon Vance, the commander of Task Force Kandahar, told a news conference Monday at Kandahar Airfield.
“If your way of life was in peril, you would want someone like Sgt. Martin Goudreault to show up and offer to help.”
The 35-year-old Goudreault died Sunday after an improvised explosive device went off at 6:30 a.m. near the village of Nakhonay in the Panjwaii district, about 15 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city.
“Insurgents hide their weapons and IEDs amongst the civilian population and soldiers like Martin, both Canadian and Afghan, are working each and every day to find and eliminate these weapons caches,” Vance said.
The native of Sudbury, Ont., known as “Marty” to his friends, was a 15-year veteran of the Canadian Forces and on his fifth overseas deployment when he died. Deployed about a month ago, he was a member of 1 Combat Engineer Regiment based at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, serving with the 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group.
“Recognized early in his career for his leadership, Sgt. Goudreault was a model soldier, someone the soldiers in his section could look up to and emulate,” Vance said.
“His subordinates and superiors alike will remember him as a tireless leader who was passionate about his work.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed his condolences to Goudreault’s family and friends.
“The lives of the Afghan people are better due to the efforts of Canadians like Sgt. Goudreault who provide security and stability,” Harper said in a statement.
“These are the cornerstones that will allow the country to rebuild and grow into the future.”
Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Goudreault’s death was another example of the daily risks faced by the men and women of the Canadian Forces.
“Sgt. Martin Goudreault’s sacrifice will not be forgotten and it will not deter us from continuing to help Afghans rebuild their country,” he said in a statement.
The latest death brings to 147 the number of Canadian military personnel who have died since the Afghan mission began in 2002.
It comes less than two weeks after Trooper Larry Rudd of Brantford, Ont., was killed by an IED, also in the Panjwaii district.
Known as the birthplace of the Taliban, the district has been a bloody battleground for Canadian troops since they arrived in Kandahar province in strength four years ago.
Dozens of Canadians have been injured or killed in the restive region, and while villages and towns have been repeatedly cleared, the Taliban has quietly reasserted itself in parts of the area.
IEDs have been the single biggest cause of death among Canadian troops in Afghanistan.
Seven out of nine Canadian deaths this year were the result of an IED blast. In all, 88 of the 147 Canadian fatalities in the eight-year-old Afghan mission came about from IEDs — roadside bombs or some other type of explosive, according to the Department of Defence.
Two civilians — diplomat Glyn Berry and journalist Michelle Lang — have also been killed in Afghanistan.