OTTAWA Defence Minister Bill Graham, Gen. Rick Hillier and other military brass are expected to be on hand at CFB Trenton today to meet the plane carrying the remains of Pte. Braun Scott Woodfield.

Woodfield, 24, was killed in Afghanistan Thursday when the driver of his armoured vehicle swerved to avoid a head-on collision with an oncoming car, military sources say.

Woodfield, who was born in Victoria and raised in Eastern Passage, N.S., was rear sentry on the vehicle and was not driving, officials told Canadian Press on condition of anonymity.

Military sources say the LAV-3 its inherent tippiness exaggerated by armour plates added recently to protect soldiers from explosions rolled over after a civilian car with no headlights suddenly appeared out of the dark.

"It was a reaction by a driver who at the last second had to make a move to avoid a collision with an oncoming car that had no headlights on."

A loaded LAV-3 weighs 21 tonnes. Most Afghan vehicles are Toyota Corollas. Had the driver not swerved, "our vehicle would have been on top of the small car," said a senior military source. "So who do you think would win in such a collision?"

The accident occurred 45 kilometres northeast of Kandahar, near the village of Laghman along one of the country's best thoroughfares the paved Highway 1 that connects Kandahar and the capital of Kabul.

The LAV-3 swerved "at the last second," flipped and ended upside down at the edge of the road. Officials do not know if the vehicle's stability was a major factor in the accident.

An investigation has begun and, consistent with military practice, a formal board of inquiry is expected to be called.

The driver had four years behind the wheel of the LAV, which is considered one of the more popular military vehicles in-theatre.

Like many armoured vehicles and SUVs, the LAV-3s can roll over under certain conditions. Several defence sources said structural issues have never been factors in 11 rollover accidents in which LAV-3s have been involved. "There are rules and regulations and guidelines about how you drive, but accidents still happen," said an official.

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Col. Ryan Jestin, Commander, CFB Gagetown said Woodfield's death was a great shock for everyone at the base.

"But we've found great comfort, actually, in the family. We've had many meetings with them to discuss their needs and their requirements as they go through this very, very tough time," he told Canada AM early Friday.

Col. Jestin met Woodfield in Haiti when he visited Canadian troops carrying out Operation HALO there last summer.

"He was a wonderful guy."

"And of course, I said farewell to him on the tarmac here in Fredericton before he took off for Afghanistan in August." The colonel was one of the last people to see Woodfield on his home soil before he left for his overseas mission.

Woodfield's ashes on Thursday were carried off the plane at Fredericton Airport by his mother. A military honour guard and members of the Woodfield family were waiting at the airport.

"Yes, there's sadness," Daniel Woodfield told the Canadian Press. "But at the same time, there's great pride."

Pte. Woodfield is the eighth Canadian to die in Afghanistan since Canadian troops were deployed there in 2002.

Col. Jestin said the soldiers at Gagetown who lived, trained and worked with Pte. Woodfield are going through a grieving process. But he added: "The reality is we know when we go on these missions, inherently it's risky.

"It's risky whether you're driving in a LAV-3 vehicle like what happened to Pte. Woodfield last week, or on any mission overseas representing Canada. The reality is although we never hope something like this ever happens, we know inevitably it will."

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Last updated Nov 25 2005 08:27 AM AST - CBC News

A soldier who grew up in Eastern Passage was killed when his military vehicle rolled over in Afghanistan on Thursday.

Pte. Braun Scott Woodfield, 24, died when the light armoured vehicle, called a LAV-III, rolled over at 6 p.m. local time on a highway that connects Kabul with Kandahar, near the village of Laghman.

"A family has lost a treasured friend, loved one and we have lost a superb soldier and a member of our regimental family," said Lt.-Col. Robert Walker of CFB Gagetown.

Four other soldiers from the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment, based out of Gagetown, were injured. None received life-threatening injuries.

Pte. Braun Scott Woodfield, 24. (Courtesy DND)

A centre was set up at the base Thursday night where people could meet and share their thoughts.

It's not just for the families of the injured soldiers, said Shelly Hillier, deployment and family support co-ordinator at Gagetown, "but also families from our community who would just like to get together and gather and draw strength and support from one another."

The four injured soldiers are being cared for by Canadian and U.S. medical staff in Afghanistan. Whether they'll be moved depends on the condition of their injuries.

An investigation is underway into the crash with the light armoured vehicle, called a LAV-III.

"It was a road accident, a single-vehicle accident," said Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais, deputy chief of defence staff.

In the six years the LAV-III has been in use, two Canadian soldiers have died in 10 rollover accidents. As recently as September, a 24-year-old Quebec soldier died when one of the vehicles went into a river during a nighttime training exercise in Alberta.

As his great-uncle solemnly played the Flowers of the Forest lament on bagpipes Sunday, the body of Private Braun Scott Woodfield was returned to Canada.

The flag-draped coffin arrived from Afghanistan and was escorted with an honour guard to a waiting hearse.

About 25 family members, scores of military and Defence Minister Bill Graham watched the ceremony along with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment based in Gagetown N.B.

Pte. Woodfield died Nov. 24 near Kandahar, Afghanistan when an armoured vehicle a LAV-3 in which he was the rear sentry swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle and rolled.

"This is a difficult day for all of us," said Gen. Rick Hillier, chief of defence staff.

"(We are here) to grieve with his family and to say farewell to him."

Cpl. Jeff Milne, who is stationed at CFB Trenton and is Pte. Woodfield's cousin, said many male members of the family had served or are serving in the military.

"It's family tradition," he said.

Pte. Woodfield's father said Friday that his son was skilled with computers but decided to join the infantry so he could go to places like Afghanistan, where people need help.

Pte. Woodfield had been serving in Afghanistan since August.

"His next venture probably would have been going to search and rescue because that was the kind of guy he was a helping fellow," Daniel Woodfield said from his home in Cow Bay, near Halifax.

Cpl. Milne said the funeral for Pte. Woodfield will be Dec. 2 in Gagetown.

The injured soldiers in the crash were identified as: Sgt. Tony Nelson McIver, 31, of Fredericton; Cpl. James Edward McDonald, 32, of Pembroke, Ont.; Cpl. Shane Dean Jones, 30, of White Rock, B.C., and Pte. Paul Schavo, 24, of London, Ont.

Pte. Woodfield is the eighth Canadian to die in Afghanistan since Canada first sent soldiers into the southwest Asian country in 2002.

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Pte. Braun Woodfield honoured in N.B. memorial - CTV.ca News Staff

Pte. Braun Scott Woodfield, the 24-year-old soldier who died in a vehicle accident while serving in Afghanistan, was bestowed with full military honours at a memorial this morning at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown.

Hundreds of mourners packed a gymnasium at the New Brunswick base to pay their last respects to the private known for his patriotism, his good humour and the maple leaf tattooed on his arm.

A native of Victoria, B.C. raised in Eastern Passage, N.S., Woodfield was killed near Kandahar last week when the LAV-3 he was riding in rolled over. An investigation has since determined the vehicle's driver swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle. Four other members of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, were injured. Two of those soldiers -- Cpl. Shane Dean Jones and Pte. Paul Schavo -- were present at the memorial Friday.

"It was a tragic accident that claimed the life of an outstanding soldier," said Brig.-Gen. Rick Parsons, Commander, Land Force Atlantic, in a eEulogy.

"Braun Woodfield could have been anything he wanted to be. He had no end to his options ... and just over two years ago he volunteered to join the army .... he volunteered to wear the Canadian flag on his shoulder because he wanted to help people.

"Braun did help people."

A tearful Beverley Woodfield, Braun's mother, said her son entered this world just as he left it: "Far too early." Born prematurely and weighing barely over two pounds, Braun was "sick a lot growing up. I worried about that boy all his life," she said.

"But from the moment he was born, he was a fighter. He never gave up," she said.

"My Braunie, my dude, my bud, my Braun, you are my boy forever in my mind's eye and in my heart."

Later, Beverley Woodfield wiped tears from her eyes as the Last Post played. She stood alongside Lyndi Woodfield, Braun's sister, and Daniel Woodfield, Braun's father and a former lieutenant-commander in the Canadian navy.

All three wept as a parade of bagpipers played Amazing Grace as mourners bowed their heads in respect to Woodfield. A Canadian flag was presented to his mother. Three medals the private received during his military service were presented to his father.

Col. Ryan Jestin, Commander, CFB Gagetown said Woodfield's death was a great shock for everyone at the base.

"But we've found great comfort, actually, in the family. We've had many meetings with them to discuss their needs and their requirements as they go through this very, very tough time," he told Canada AM early Friday.

Col. Jestin met Woodfield in Haiti when he visited Canadian troops carrying out Operation HALO there last summer.

"He was a wonderful guy."

"And of course, I said farewell to him on the tarmac here in Fredericton before he took off for Afghanistan in August." The colonel was one of the last people to see Woodfield on his home soil before he left for his overseas mission.

Woodfield's ashes on Thursday were carried off the plane at Fredericton Airport by his mother. A military honour guard and members of the Woodfield family were waiting at the airport.

"Yes, there's sadness," Daniel Woodfield told the Canadian Press. "But at the same time, there's great pride."

Pte. Woodfield is the eighth Canadian to die in Afghanistan since Canadian troops were deployed there in 2002.

Col. Jestin said the soldiers at Gagetown who lived, trained and worked with Pte. Woodfield are going through a grieving process. But he added: "The reality is we know when we go on these missions, inherently it's risky.

"It's risky whether you're driving in a LAV-3 vehicle like what happened to Pte. Woodfield last week, or on any mission overseas representing Canada. The reality is although we never hope something like this ever happens, we know inevitably it will."