Ontario soldier dies in IED attack

Photo: DOD

Petty Officer Second Class Craig Blake

A 37-year-old Petty Officer from Simcoe, Ont. was killed Monday afternoon after an improvised explosive device detonated during an operation, in the Panjwayi District about 25 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City.

Petty Officer Second Class Craig Blake died at approximately 4:40 p.m. Tuesday. a member of Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic), based in Shearwater, Nova Scotia, he was serving with Task Force 1-10. Blake becomes the 143rd Canadian soldier to die in combat in Afghanistan since 2002, the fifth to die in 2010. He died while on foot patrol.

"We are all thinking of the family and friends of our Canadian fallen comrade during this sad time," said a statement on the Canadian Forces website Tuesday morning. "The commitment and sacrifice of our military and their loved ones are helping to make a difference in the lives of the people of Kandahar Province."

Defence Minister Peter MacKay offered tribute to Blake's bravery and pride.

"We deeply mourn yesterday's loss of a dedicated Canadian Forces member who died in Afghanistan. Petty Officer Second Class Craig Blake was killed after an improvised explosive device detonated during a dismounted operation. I extend my heartfelt sympathy to his family and friends.

"Petty Officer Blake served bravely and with pride alongside his comrades to help build a better and brighter future for Afghans. His tragic passing illustrates some of the risks that the selfless men and women of the Canadian Forces face every day in carrying out their duties.

"Canada's participation in this United Nations-mandated NATO-led mission is a true reflection of the Canadian values of helping those in need and defending the interests of those who can't yet defend themselves.

"I am truly proud our men and women of the Canadian Forces as they courageously risk their lives to bring peace and security to the people of Afghanistan."

Blake was an explosives-disposal operator specializing in disarming IEDs.

Blake, a competing triathlete and peewee hockey coach, was married with two children.

Canadian Forces is no longer reporting whether anyone is injured in these types of attacks, reserving those statistics for a yearly report.