It should have been a happier homecoming, but some troops returning home from Afghanistan yesterday were down a comrade.

The body of Pte. Kevin McKay, the latest soldier to die in Afghanistan, arrived at CFB Trenton aboard a military transport plane that was also carrying a contingent of about 100 troops returning from their deployment.

The strains of a bagpiper’s soulful lament floated on the sunny afternoon air as McKay’s mother wept at the sight of her son’s coffin being lowered into a hearse.

McKay’s father, a captain with the Toronto Fire Service, remained stoic while family members laid single red roses on his son’s flag-draped casket.

McKay was killed by a roadside bomb Thursday while on foot patrol southwest of Kandahar city. His first tour in Afghanistan was due to end this weekend.

The 24-year-old was with the Edmonton-based 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and was a native of Richmond Hill.

Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean and Defence Minister Peter MacKay were among the dignitaries present at the repatriation ceremony.

He is the sixth member of the Canadian military to die in Afghanistan this year, and the 144th to die as part of the Afghan mission since it began in 2002.