Canadian woman 16th soldier killed in Afghanistan (Last Updated Wed, 17 May 2006 15:45:26 EDT - CBC News)

A female soldier from Canada was killed while fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan on Wednesday, military officials said.

Capt. Nichola Goddard was serving as a forward observer with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in Afghanistan. (Department of National Defence) Capt. Nichola Goddard, 26, had been serving in Afghanistan with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. She was a member of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, based in Shilo, Man.

She is the first Canadian woman to be killed in action since the Second World War, and the first female combat soldier killed on the front lines.

Goddard died about 6:55 p.m. local time (10:25 a.m. EDT) in a military operation against Taliban forces near Kandahar, where the majority of the country's 2,300 soldiers in Afghanistan are serving.

Canadian soldiers had been called in to support Afghan troops fighting in the Panjwai region, about 24 kilometres west of Kandahar.

When the battle ended, 18 Taliban militants had been killed, and 35 captured, Canadian Forces spokesman Maj. Scott Lundy said. Three Afghan soldiers were wounded.

Goddard was from Calgary and lived with her husband, Jason Beam, at the Canadian Forces Base in Shilo. She had no children.

Beam, to whom she had been married since 2002, told CBC News that Goddard joined the forces eight years ago, enlisting in the military right out of high school.

He said he last spoke with her Tuesday, and she was excited about the mission that, in the end, claimed her life.

Goddard was serving as a forward observer, helping to target the artillery by observing where the shells fell. She was supposed to be home in September.

'It's a hard day'

Maj. Liam McGarrey said that Goddard had been marked for rapid advancement.

Word of Goddard's death slowly filtered through the base as soldiers attended a morale-boosting concert featuring Canadian musicians.

Goddard's remains are to be sent by plane to Canada on Friday during a ramp ceremony at the main Kandahar base.

Brig.-Gen. David Fraser, who commands Canadian and coalition forces in Kandahar, offered his sympathies to Goddard's family.

"It's a hard day, but it's also a day of achievements here," said Fraser, who stood in front of a Canadian flag at half-mast. "The government of Afghanistan and the Afghan national security forces have had a good successful day. There was significant Taliban casualties both killed and captured.

"Unfortunately, the cost today was the life of Nichola."

PM salutes soldier's contribution

In a statement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper acknowledged Goddard's contribution.

"Capt. Goddard died while helping to bring peace, stability and democracy to a troubled region of the world. She, and the other men and women who serve in Afghanistan, are involved in a difficult and dangerous mission."

Manitoba Premier Gary Doer said the province will fly its flag at half-mast in Goddard's honour.

"I just want to say, on behalf of the people of Manitoba, we respect her life of bravery and honour on behalf of Canada, and we offer our condolences to the family and to the community of Shilo," he said.

Goddard's death raises Canada's toll in Afghanistan to 16 soldiers and one diplomat since the mission beganin 2002.

Dozens of Canadian women have died while serving in the First and Second World Wars, says the Department of National Defence:

Forty-three women in the Canadian military died in the First World War 29 in enemy action on the Western Front.

Seventy-one female members of the Canadian Forces died in the Second World War, including five combat-related deaths four during the bombing of London and one when a German U-boat sank the SS Caribou.

There were no women military casualties in the Korean War

Thousands of comrades send Goddard home

Last Updated Fri, 19 May 2006 18:12:17 EDT - CBC News

Thousands of troops from several countries lined the tarmac at Kandahar airbase on Friday to say goodbye to Capt. Nichola Goddard, Canada's latest casualty in Afghanistan.

Members of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery carry the casket of Capt. Nichola Goddard on board a C-130 Hercules at Kandahar. The plane is expected to arrive in Trenton, Ont., on Saturday. (Bob Weber/Canadian Press) Goddard, the first female combat soldier Canada has lost in battle, was killed Wednesday battling Taliban insurgents west of Kandahar.

On Friday, soldiers from eight countries watched as her flag-draped casket was carried by eight members of her unit, the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery. The casket went underneath an arch formed by two M777 howitzers and between the ranks of camouflage-clad soldiers, then up the loading ramp of a C130 Hercules for the flight home to Canada.

The plane is expected to arrive in Trenton, Ont., on Saturday.

At the Kandahar base, prayers were said, and Brig.-Gen. David Fraser followed the casket into the airplane to say a brief private farewell.

Soldiers at the ceremony included those from Canada, the United States, Britain, Romania, France, the Netherlands, Estonia and Afghanistan.

Goddard was serving as a forward artillery observer when Canadian troops were called to support Afghan forces as they battled Taliban fighters about 24 kilometres west of Kandahar.

The casket of Capt. Nicola Goddard is inside the hold of the Canadian Forces C-130 on Friday at Kandahar airfield. (Sgt. Carole Morissette/DND) She was killed when the LAV III light armoured vehicle she was in was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, a number of media outlets are reporting.

The Canadians formed a ring around the area where the Afghan forces were battling the Taliban.

Canadian military officials said 18 Taliban militants were killed and 26 captured during the operation. Three Afghan National Army soldiers were wounded.

Goddard was the 16th Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan since 2002. One Canadian diplomat has also been killed.

Capt. Nichola Goddard is the first Canadian female combat soldier to die in battle. (DND) The Calgary native lived in Shilo, Man., with her husband, Jason Beam.

Her funeral will be in Calgary at the same church where she was married less than four years ago.

A public memorial is planned at her base at CFB Shilo.