ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Prince Charles said Monday that Canadians are serving with the “greatest possible distinction” in Afghanistan and that his heart goes out to the family of the latest soldier killed there.
Charles, speaking at a welcoming ceremony as he started an 11-day tour of the country with his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, said Canadians are remembered on famous First and Second World War battlefields, and for their peacekeeping efforts in places like Sudan, Lebanon and the Middle East.
“These acts, these universal values, for which Canada stands up and is counted have echoed right across the 20th century and into the 21st,” he added.
He said Canadians have brought “the light of freedom and justice to the darker corners of the world.”
“I need hardly say, therefore,” added Charles, “how much my heart goes out to the family of Pte. Steven Marshall, who was killed in action only last week and who will make his final journey home to Canada tomorrow, taking his place among those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Marshall, 24, was killed Friday when an improvised explosive device detonated southwest of Kandahar City.
The family of Marshall said he died doing what he loved.
The military in Edmonton, where he was based, issued a statement from Marshall’s family Monday in which he was remembered as a “soldier’s soldier.” The statement was issued before Prince Charles arrived in Canada.
The family said Marshall was excited about military life and had found his niche in the army.
“Steven was very excited about what the military had to offer,” they said. “While he was training for his tour, he would talk endlessly about what he learned and he would eagerly say, ‘I wonder what I will get to do next?”‘
As a sapper, Marshall was on the front lines of efforts to minimize the threat presented by improvised explosive devices. He was working in an area of Afghanistan thought critical for the future success of a counter-insurgency strategy devised earlier this year.
He was so eager about his work that his family expected he would teach others in the military some day.
Marshall, a member of 11 Field Squadron, 1 Combat Engineer Regiment, had been in Afghanistan less than two weeks when an explosion hit his patrol in Panjwaii district, 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City. He was the only person killed in the blast.
Marshall grew up in Calgary and was a passionate fan of the Flames hockey team. His family said he was “undeniably in love with the game” and was himself a competitive and skilled player.
He also had a flair for storytelling and was quick with a laugh or a joke.
“His trademark was certainly his ability to tell stories and show off his impersonation skills that always made us laugh. Not only could Steven brighten up a room, he was the life of it, too.”
But he was most remembered as a loving brother and son, who was devoted to his family and friends.
“Steven was an attentive listener, sensitive, bold and goofy at times. He was truly a breath of fresh air. His family was of utmost importance to him, and he always made an effort to put us first.
“The slightest gestures, such as letting him sit in the comfy chair or taking him out for lunch, would be met with a big glow of appreciation.”
The family also recognized Marshall’s fellow soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
“We would like to express our thanks for their friendship to him and their continued service in a mission in which he believed. You were his family, too, and he held you close in his heart.”
Family members said they are immensely proud of “such an incredible young man.”
“We looked up to you and will strive to live our lives as you did, with courage, dedication and an uplifting spirit.”
The statement was signed off with the word “chimo,” the cheer of Canadian military engineers.
Marshall’s body is to arrive Tuesday at CFB Trenton in Ontario for a repatriation ceremony attended by Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and other dignitaries.
His casket will then be taken along the Highway of Heroes to Toronto, where an autopsy will be performed.
He is the 133rd Canadian soldier to die during the mission to Afghanistan and one of two to be killed last week.
Lt. Justin Boyes died Wednesday in an explosion that also injured two other soldiers. His body arrived at CFB Trenton on Saturday.