'Alfred was my cocoon': Fiancée remembers RCAF search and rescue technician as courageous

'Alfred was my cocoon': Fiancée remembers RCAF search and rescue technician as courageous

A Winnipeg-based search and rescue technician with the Royal Canadian Air Force who died during a routine training jump last week was remembered as a true Canadian who loved his family.

Family and friends of Master Cpl. Alfred Barr, 31, gathered at 17 Wing Winnipeg on Monday for a ramp ceremony, a memorial service for the fallen soldier held at the airport.

"Alfred Barr was the most amazing man I have ever known. He was incredibly kind and thoughtful, someone who always put others before himself," said Barr's fiancée Stéphanie Hempel in a written statement.

"He was continually encouraging and positive, even in difficult circumstances, and motivated me and others to be hard working and try different things. He valued his family immensely and also became an integral member of my family."

Barr was a member of a small, tight-knit group of technicians with the 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron.

Last week Barr's mother, Sharon Barr, told CBC News she had been told her son died when his parachute failed to deploy during a routine training jump near Yorkton, Sask. The Royal Canadian Air Force has launched an inquiry into his death. 

Barr and Hempel were set to get married in July.

"Alfred always showed me the kind of love that everyone should have. The kind of mushy gushy love that makes you feel warm and envelops you like a cocoon," she said.

"Alfred was my cocoon."

Barr was originally from Fort Nelson, B.C., and later relocated to Lethbridge, Alta., before moving to Winnipeg where he lived with Hempel.

Hempel said he was a "true Canadian" who liked to do ultra-marathons, fat biking and canoeing.

"Many of his adventures involved nature and the Canadian wilderness. Beyond these things, he took it upon himself to learn about other cultures and was learning other languages like Danish, German, and French," she said.

Hempel said Barr's death was "cruel and unfair" but he understood the risks of his job.

"He knew the dangers of his job, and fully embraced the Search and Rescue Technician motto: 'that others may live,'" she said.

"I am so proud of his courage, strength, and devotion to help others."