EDMONTON - The widow of the latest Canadian soldier to die in Kandahar put aside her grief for a few minutes to pay tribute to her husband and to share his concern that Canadians are losing support for the mission in Afghanistan.
Lt. Justin Boyes, 26, who grew up in Saskatoon, was killed Wednesday in an explosion while leading a foot patrol only 10 days into his second tour of duty.
Alanna Boyes said her husband was a selfless, loving, courageous man who was a wonderful father to their three-year-old son.
Recently he told her he was worried that some Canadians are undermining the military's efforts in the ravaged country.
"Justin and I believe in the mission in Afghanistan," she said Thursday.
"One of the things that frustrated him was the lack of support from the Canadian citizens he lived to protect. He said recently, 'we're not losing this war, but if we do, it's because we lost it at home first"', she said.
"Please support our boys. They are making progress."
Boyes, an infantryman with the Edmonton-based 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, was the 132nd Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan since the mission began in 2002.
More than 2,500 soldiers lined the tarmac at Kandahar Airfield as Boyes' coffin was carried onto a military transport plane bound for Canada.
Earlier Thursday, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall paid tribute to Boyes in the legislature, noting the young man started his military career as a reservist.
Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach also expressed his condolences to Boyes' family.
In reflecting on their family's loss, Alanna Boyes spoke of the deep impressions he made on her and their son.
"Before he left, I told him he was a gallant warrior in the 21st century because whether it was leading a combat operation, doing house renos or changing a poopy diaper, he knew what to do," she said.
"Justin, you are irreplaceable in our lives. Solid as a marble statue and gentle as the sunshine on our cheeks. You are our daddy and best friend."