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Journey home begins for 108th Canadian soldier slain in Afghanistan

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Sapper Sean Greenfield was remembered Sunday as an affable young man with a natural charisma who drew a crowd whenever he brought out his guitar and sang Green Day songs.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Sapper Sean Greenfield was remembered Sunday as an affable young man with a natural charisma who drew a crowd whenever he brought out his guitar and sang Green Day songs.

Many of those same soldiers who Greenfield, 25, entertained at far-flung Canadian outposts in Kandahar province gathered on the tarmac at Kandahar Airfield and bade farewell to the 108th Canadian soldier killed in the Afghan mission.

Sniffles broke the still night air as eight pallbearers made the long trudge before rows upon rows of soldiers to the open hatch of a large military aircraft.

Greenfield was a member of 24 Field Engineer Squadron, 2 Combat Engineer Regiment based in Petawawa, Ont., serving with the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group.

Lt.-Col. Roger Barrett, commanding officer of the Battle Group, described Greenfield as a social man who kept his fellow soldiers upbeat over long hauls with light banter.

People naturally gravitated to Greenfield whenever he strummed and sang in the makeshift mess halls of the Canadian outposts, he said.

"Once he started playing guitar, he would draw a crowd in, and sometimes there would be persons of the opposite sex that would come into that crowd," Barrett said.

"So, (he was) a very popular young man and a very personable young man."

Greenfield died Saturday afternoon when his armoured vehicle struck a roadside bomb in the tumultuous western reaches of Kandahar province. He is the 11th Canadian soldier to die since December, all of them in roadside bomb attacks.

The Taliban claim to be in the midst of an unusual winter campaign to sow the plains of Kandahar province with makeshift bombs targeting coalition forces.

Canadian military commanders insist a rash of bad luck is behind the spate of soldier deaths in recent months, and claim the number of bombs they find outweighs the number of attacks.

Greenfield was part of a three-or four-day mission to target Taliban bomb-making and weapons storage compounds in the western districts of Panjwaii and Zhari, Barrett said. The operation included British marines, American troops and soldiers from the Afghan National Army.

During the mission, Barrett said soldiers uncovered "numerous caches" of explosives and materials used to make the bombs, which have been the scourge of coalition troops in recent months.

"There is a lot of material that simply won't be buried in roads because we have it now," he said.

Coalition forces also blew up factory where improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, were put into vehicles to be driven by suicide bombers, Barrett added.

While this operation didn't yield the largest weapons find to date, it wasn't the smallest either, he said.

"One could argue that if the finds become smaller in areas that we are led to through our intelligence, then our efforts are successful in that we keep hitting them and denying them their materials to make these roadside bombs," he said.

"There is a finite supply of materials. Now, in that part of Kandahar, they are going to have to go elsewhere, cobble together all the materials, find a safe place to put them together, reconstitute and start over."

 
 
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