OTTAWA – Cpl Cole Bartsch, 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry was killed on 4 July, 2007 along with 5 other CF members and one Afghan interpreter, when the vehicle they were traveling in struck an improvised explosive device, approximately 20km south-west of Kandahar City. 3 PPCLI is based out of Edmonton, Alberta.

He was the reliable one, the one his pals counted on to get them home safely after a night out, the one who’d share whatever he had if he thought you needed it more. Another Canadian family was grieving the loss of a much-loved young man Thursday after news that Cpl. Cole Bartsch was among the six Canadians and one Afghan interpreter killed by a powerful roadside bomb. "He was always the reliable one," said his aunt Karen Shilson in a tearful interview from Calgary. "He would think nothing of taking the shirt of his back and giving it to you if you needed it worse than him. He was a good kid. He was one you could trust anywhere, any time." Bartsch enlisted in the military right out of high school and re-enlisted in the hope of further service to Canada, Shilson said. "His belief was, even if it cost him his life, he was going to help his country. And it did." Shilson recalled plenty of happy times on the Bartsch family land near Whitecourt, 177 km northwest of Edmonton, playing horseshoes or just hangingout together. Bartsch and her son would take off into the bush for days at a time, camping, fishing and zooming around on quads."The kids always used to go camping a lot. He loved it outside."

Shilson also remembered Bartsch telling her about a military training exercise marked by heavy downpours. Although the soldiers slept out in tents in ankle-sucking mud, her nephew thought it a great lark. "He didn’t care," she says. When he wasn’t outdoors, Shilson said Bartsch was just happy to be around other people. "He was outgoing, he never thought twice about going out of his way to help somebody else," she said. "He got along with everybody. His friends would go out partying or something and he would drop whatever he was doing to go get them and take them so they wouldn’t drink and drive." The Bartsch family is both large and close, said Shilson. When one of his brothers had a heart transplant a few years ago, Cole got leave to come home to see him through. And he loved hanging out with his father, tinkering with his logging truck. "He was always monkeying around with his dad’s truck," Shilson said. The family is coping as best they can. "They’re doing as good as can be expected. It’s their oldest boy." At least 15 members of Bartsch’s Calgary relatives are expected to drive up to Edmonton as his body returns to Canada, making the trip together in a school bus. Shilson will be among them. "He was just an awesome kid."