The body of the first Canadian sailor killed in Afghanistan began its journey home yesterday.

Sheerwater-based diver Petty Officer 2nd Class Craig Blake was killed by a makeshift bomb Monday.

More than 1,500 Canadian and ISAF personnel attended a ramp ceremony early yesterday at Kandahar Airfield for Blake, who is Canada’s first sailor to die in Afghanistan since the mission began in 2002.

Blake’s casket was loaded by his military comrades onto a plane amid a thick cloud of dust that gave the atmosphere a sepia-like hue.

Nearly 30 of his Halifax brethren flew to Trenton, Ont., yesterday to be there to receive the remains.

Eight of them will be pallbearers and 20 will act as a colour guard. Blake’s body is scheduled to arrive this afternoon.

Details on the funeral service have not been released, but no matter where the funeral for the Simcoe, Ont., native takes place, another memorial service will be held within the diving unit.

Former navy diver Darren MacIsaac worked with Blake for the better part of a decade.

“He was an awesome guy,” MacIsaac said in an interview yesterday. “He loved his family and loved his work. He coached hockey and was coach of the year for the peewees.”

When MacIsaac’s phone rang early Tuesday morning, it was a shock to learn Blake was killed by one of the very devices he was sent to Afghanistan to defuse. “You’re not used to hearing that one of your buddies went down. I didn’t sleep much that night.”

Blake was a husband and father of two. His brother Chris said Tuesday that Blake was a sailor first and foremost and was apprehensive about serving in Afghanistan.

“Being in the ordnance and bomb disposal and everything he was trained for, he also knew that this was part of his calling.”

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