GATINEAU, Que. – Family and friends gathered at a private funeral in Gatineau, Que., to remember a soldier killed late last month in Afghanistan.
Gunner Jonathan Dion, 27, died Dec. 30 after his light-armoured vehicle struck a roadside bomb about 20 kilometres west of Kandahar city.
Childhood friend Kevin Graham, also a member of the Canadian military, said that Dion loved his job and had no regrets about enlisting.
Graham, who met Dion 15 years ago at their Gatineau elementary school, said his friend did not know what he wanted in life until he discovered the military.
“For sure, it’s the best decision he made in his life,” he said Saturday after the funeral.
“He wanted to make a difference in the world and he did.”
Graham described Dion as a quiet, generous guy who excelled in sports.
“I helped him a lot in school, but he helped me in basketball because he was really good,” he said.
“I lost a good buddy.”
Dion was killed and four other soldiers injured when their older model vehicle struck the bomb.
He was headed to Kandahar Airfield from a forward operating base in the volatile Zhari district of southern Afghanistan.
Reports at the time suggested the blast occurred just four or five kilometres east of Forward Operating Base Wilson, along a main paved artery that military convoys tend to speed through for safety.
Dion, a native of Val d’Or, Que., was a member of the 5th Regiment d’Artillerie legere du Canada.
Dion’s uncle, Ronald Marcil, said his nephew was ready to give up everything to help others have freedom.
“Jonathan was proud to be a soldier,” Marcil said after the funeral.
“He loved his work.”