EDMONTON - Comrades of the latest Canadian soldier to die while on the mission to Afghanistan remember Cpl. Darren Fitzpatrick as a straight shooter - in all senses of the term.

"He was very, very good - especially with a rifle. He was an amazing shot," said Cpl. Cole Prier, a fellow member of the Edmonton-based 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, who went through all his training with the 21-year-old infantryman.

But Fitzgerald's friends valued him for much more than his military skills.

"He was a very honest individual," Prier recalled Tuesday. "If you asked him a question, you got a straight answer. He was a very genuine person. You knew how he felt about everything because he let you know."

Fitzgerald suffered extensive lower-body trauma March 6 when an improvised explosive device went off in Afghanistan's Zhari district.

Lt.-Col. Peter Dawe, commanding officer of the 3 PPCLI, said Fitzgerald had been helping provide security to a group of fellow Canadian soldiers working as mentors with the Afghan National Army. The Canadians were on a "presence patrol," in which soldiers walk through Afghanistan's narrow alleyways and dusty roads making as much contact with locals as they can in an effort to build ties with Afghan civilians.

Such patrols are relatively common. But on this one, the explosive device detonated.

Fitzgerald's comrades patched him up enough in the field so that he made it to the hospital at Kandahar Airfield, then to the U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. He was transferred last Friday to the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton, where he died the next day surrounded by his family.

He was the 141st casualty of Canada's mission in Afghanistan. A diplomat and journalist have also been killed.

Dawe said the family is grateful to all those - from soldiers in the field to civilian staff in Edmonton - who performed "medical miracles" in keeping Fitzgerald alive those extra weeks.

"(Jim and Colleen Fitzgerald) expressed to me how grateful they were for the herculean effort of all those who played a part in keeping their son alive for us as long as they did, which ultimately gave his parents and his brothers, Michael and Sean, the opportunity to see Darren and communicate with him before he passed away."

Prier feels his old buddy deserves part of the credit, too. He said "Fitz" was never one to give up easily.

"(Fitzgerald) wasn't too great with the heat. I remember him, he was on his last legs, he was falling down and we got him some water and he wouldn't quit. It was simple things like that - we were just doing a ruck march and he wouldn't give up on that because he wouldn't let his friends down. Never, ever."

Some soldiers will remember Fitzgerald as a bit of a jokester who loved a good laugh. Others will remember his love of the outdoors and how natural it was for him to work as part of a team.

Cpl. Bryan Sorensen recalled the fellow soldier who instantly befriended him at basic training.

"Right away, he became one of my friends," Sorensen said. "We always stuck together through the hard times and whenever we had our weekend passes we always stuck right beside each other, going out on the town.

"He's a friend I'll never get back and I don't think anyone's going to replace him for me."

The Fitzpatrick family issued a brief statement saying they remain "immensely proud" of Darren.

Although they are not speaking publicly, they have asked that their son's funeral this weekend in Edmonton be open to the public, Dawe said.

"Nothing will bring Darren back," he said.

"But a display of solidarity would certainly help a family who need to be reminded that their country appreciates those young Canadians, who choose to lay their lives on the line in pursuit of a better and more just world."