Last Updated: Monday, November 27, 2006 | 7:38 AM ET

A suicide car bomber struck a military convoy near the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Monday, killing two Canadian soldiers, NATO says. Cpl. Albert Storm from the 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group was one of the soldiers killed in this suicide attack.

Maj. Luke Knittig, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, said Cpl. Albert Storm from the 1st Battalion were helping with reconstruction projects in an area where there has been heavy fighting in recent months. "It is a sad day. Every time we lose soldiers, it is a sad day," he said. Provincial police chief Ismatullah Alizai said the attack occurred near a gate that leads to the city of Kandahar after the bomber drove up to a military convoy. He said the attack killed one Afghan civilian and wounded another.

The deaths mean 44 Canadian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since Ottawa first sent troops to the troubled country in early 2002. Canada has more than 2,000 troops in the country, with the majority stationed in the volatile province of Kandahar.

Cpl. Albert Storm, reminisced about past missions and mused about his planned retirement a few years down the road on the day before his death, a friend said Tuesday.

Storm, 36, a Fort Erie, Ont., native, and Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Girouard, 46, of BatHearse, N.B., his battalion's regimental sergeant major and a 29-year military veteran, were killed Monday when a suicide bomber attacked their Bison armoured personnel carrier just outside Kandahar city.

Storm, a decorated soldier who had served in trouble spots around the globe, was just three years from retirement, according to a friend, Cpl. William Guse.

Guse, a medic, served with Storm over 14 years ago and had coffee with him on Sunday.

"I bought him a coffee and we talked about the past and what we had done in the past," said Guse, with a catch in his voice. "We kind of reminisced a bit and he was talking about planning for his retirement."

"He was a soldier. He died doing what he wanted to do, he thoroughly enjoyed the army. He enjoyed it as much as he enjoyed planning for his retirement too."

Guse didn't know Girouard as well personally, but said he was his platoon warrant officer in battle school.

"He had a definite hand in shaping me as a soldier and a man. I can honestly say that," said Guse, who was born in Victoria. "I'm a better soldier for him having been my platoon warrant in battle school."

Guse said he feels for the families of both men but won't allow himself to grieve while still in Afghanistan. That is something he will do when he returns home.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was among those extending condolences to family and friends of the fallen soldiers on Tuesday, saying their "resolve and courage" represented Canadian "values and beliefs in the finest tradition."

"We stand united in pride and pledge to remember their sacrifice," the prime minister added in a statement issued in Ottawa in which he said Canada would "not be deterred from the mission to assist the Afghan people achieve greater stability and security."

"Our progress is gradual but we are determined to achieve irreversible success," he said. ". . . I know that Canadians stand proudly behind our Canadian Forces as they carry out this mission."

Storm's older brother, George, remembered his sibling as someone who loved the service.

"As a soldier, he was proud to be one," he said from his home in Kenora, Ont.. "As a person, he was the best. He would do anything for anyone."

George Storm said he was informed of his brother's death "in the wee hours of the morning," when a colonel from the 116th Battle Regiment knocked on his door.

He said he had the unhappy task of informing their elderly father, sister Beverly and another brother Frank, who is still in the Niagara area.

"I'm the eldest. It was my job."

Girouard, a father of three, had been with his family in BatHearse just last week, finishing a three-week leave said his brother, Peter.

Peter Girouard recalled that his brother was concerned about the situation in the war zone. "His mood? It is depressing over there. Any war is, I guess, depressing," he said.

"Last week he was with his family and he was probably heartbroken he was leaving his family again," Peter Girouard said.

He said the family had celebrated an early Christmas, knowing Bobby wouldn't be with them on Dec. 25. "It was a celebration week before he left to go over, not knowing it would be his last week," Peter said.

Asked for recollections of his brother, he described him as a serious man who loved his native province's expansive woodlands, where he walked the forests and loved to fish.

Both soldiers served with the Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ont..

It was the first deadly strike against the Canadians in six weeks, shattering a period of relative calm.