Statement from the family of Bombardier Myles Mansell
VICTORIA -- Soldier, fiancee, forest firefighter, friend Bombardier Myles Mansell was many things to many people.

The 25-year-old Victoria resident and three other Canadian soldiers died Saturday when an improvised explosive device (IED) hit the G-Wagon they were in as part of an armoured convoy 70 kilometres north of Kandahar.

In Victoria, Mansell's family gathered at home on Saturday to mourn his loss. Mansell's brother Michael answered the door with tears in his eyes and asked for privacy for his grieving family.

Mansell, the youngest of three siblings born and raised in Victoria, was dedicated to the reserves above and beyond other hobbies; giving up his summers and weekends to serve in the Armed Forces, said family.

In June of 2004 he started the fivetribe.ca website with a message board so he and his colleagues could talk when stationed on different continents. Judging from the volume of postings Mansell logged, the soldier relished a good chat and a laugh.

His last posting from Afghanistan was April 15.

"I remember when I left I was so excited to get here," Mansell wrote. "When we landed and they started handing out our ammunition allotment to keep in our mags, which were loaded and ready, it started to hit home.

"The other day we were in Kandahar. We had to set up a cordon on the street in the middle of the city. People were everywhere. Kids running and yelling. F---ing jingle taxis speeding up and down the streets. People trying to push past your cordon, speaking a language you barely understand. Cars screaming down the streets at you, stopping 250 metres away. All you can think is: "Is this the one?"

In an earlier message that day he provided a glimpse of the escalating tensions soldiers face: "Things here are happening fast and furious. All sorts of skirmishes daily, that never make the news E This place is f----d up."

In the lead up to his mid-February deployment, Mansell wrote about how anxious he was to go on a tour to Afghanistan: "The Stan" as it's referred to, and once there, out on patrol, outside "the wire" fenced borders of the base.

He got his wish at the beginning of the month, heading into Kandahar then into the mountains.

"Other than that... yah I am pretty bored," he noted April 6.

Peppered throughout the good-natured jokes about bad food and the daily camp grind there is frustration.

This posting appeared on March 18: "I can't even get the proper medical supplies for my C/S that is leaving the wire, or antennae tiedowns or anything. Air Horns. They wanted some to warn the locals. Oh... god forbid! RQ doesn't provide them and I scoured the camp trying to 'acquire' some but nothing. Now they have waterbottles full of rocks they huck at the locals to warn them off."

But when talk turned to the value of the Canadian presence in Afghanistan, as it did on April 4, Mansell, who was engaged to be married, was adamant.

"Let's not kid ourselves, if we pull out now we are making a big mistake. The way things are going it is just getting hotter. Guns are integral to the support of the line companies out in the field. KAF... a wasteland but a place we need to be for a while."

On Saturday the online forum Mansell created, paid for and ultimately cherished became a place for the many who knew him to say goodbye.

"I want to use many words right now to say how sad I am, but I cannot think nor speak right now," wrote one grieving colleague from Afghanistan. "(W)e were supposed to have some cold ones together at our mess while sharing war stories about this place and arguing about pointless stuff, and bitch about our tour. I will miss you."

"The word friend is used a lot, Buddy is an army term, used even more," wrote another. "Brother is one we use for our closest. Milo, brother, I am going to miss you."

Mansell was last home in January, celebrating Christmas with his brothers Michael, 33, and Matthew, 28.

"I'm sorry to say that Bombardier Myles Mansell was killed while on patrol with a troop convoy late Friday night (April 21, 2006)," Michael wrote in a statement to the 5th B.C. Field Artillery Regiment. "As his brother, I am very proud of what he and fellow Canadian soldiers are doing. Myles was doing exactly what he believed in; trying to make a better world for everyone."

On Saturday, Mansell's parents, Alan and Nancy, were en route to Victoria from their home in Barriere, the same community in B.C.'s Interior that was engulfed during wildfires in 2003. Mansell fought the fires as one of 1,150 Canadian Forces members who assisted the provincial fire service.

Premier Gordon Campbell said the hearts and sympathies of B.C. residents go out to Mansell's family and friends.

"I know you were proud of him for his service and I know that pride will not be lessened by your grief a grief and pride shared by all British Columbians," he said in a statement.

No other information or photos are available
at this time.