The tragedy of war came home to Niagara with news that one of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan Tuesday had ties to the region.

Corporal Robert Mitchell, 32, who was born and raised in Owen Sound, attended Niagara College and lived in Niagara Falls.

A former neighbour, who knew him only briefly, burst into tears when he heard the news yesterday.

"He was just a nice gentleman," said Vic Mealing who lived next to Mitchell, his wife Leanne and their three young children. "They were very friendly, a lovely couple."

Mealing said the family moved out west within a couple of years of buying the house on Palmer Avenue in Niagara Falls.

Mitchell's first posting out of Niagara College was with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in Edmonton.

Later he served with the Royal Canadian Regiment and most recently with the Royal Canadian Dragoons as part of the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

His family had moved into a new home near CFB Petawawa just days before he was deployed overseas. During her husband's tour of duty, Leanne was raising their children, 5, 3 and 2, and studying to become a police officer.

Reached at her home, the grieving widow asked for privacy but said she would be releasing a statement soon.

Her father, Gary Hass of Fort Erie, said Mitchell felt strongly about the work he was doing in Afghanistan.

"(Mitchell) was dedicated to his family and dedicated to his military career."

His parents, Carol and Bob, left Owen Sound for Petawawa. Mitchell had been in Afghanistan since early August.