Kandahar base hosts families of fallen soldiers

Some of the family members of eight Canadian soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan attend a memorial service Thursday at Kandahar Airfield. ((CBC))

Families of fallen Canadian soldiers were in Afghanistan on Thursday for a ceremony at Kandahar Airfield to pay their respects to their loved ones.

Bagpipes and the sound of driving rain greeted the 14 relatives who came to southern Afghanistan to honour eight fallen soldiers.

One by one, family members laid wreaths by the etched plaques that bear a likeness of soldiers who have died as part of the Afghan mission.

They wiped tears from their eyes with scarves on an unusually blustery day in southern Afghanistan.

Beverly Skaalrud's 24-year-old son, Pte. Braun Woodfield, died in southern Afghanistan six years ago when the armoured vehicle he was in rolled over on a highway. She said she had to make the trip to Afghanistan, "just to experience what he had last seen."

Other soldiers honoured include Warrant Officer Richard Nolan, Cpl. Nicholas Bulger, Cpl. Joshua Baker, Petty Officer 2nd Class Craig Blake, Sgt. Martin Goudreault and Sgt. James MacNeil.

Raymond Ealdama said he was proud to make the trip and that his stepson, Pte. Andrew Miller, killed by an explosive device last June, didn't die in vain.

"I think we have made a huge impact on the southern part of Afghanistan and I know our contribution and my son's contribution made that change," he said.

The visit afforded the families a chance to see the sprawling military base where the fallen soldiers lived and worked.

One hundred and fifty-four Canadian soldiers, two aid workers, a journalist and a diplomat have died as part of the mission in Afghanistan.

This won't be the last memorial service for the families. A final tribute to Canada's fallen will be held at Kandahar Airfield in March.