Trooper Patrick James Pentland, The Royal Canadian Dragoons (April 11, 2007)

Final funeral held in week of mourning for fallen Canadian soldiers

Canadian Press

Oromocto, N.B. — A young Canadian soldier who loved children so much he once asked about adopting an orphaned Afghan child has been buried in his home province of New Brunswick.

Trooper Patrick James Pentland, 23, who was killed in Afghanistan on April 11, was buried with full military honours on Saturday — the last funeral for eight young soldiers killed during Canada's deadliest week of combat in Afghanistan.

About 800 mourners attended the funeral service for Trooper Pentland, a member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown near Fredericton.

Although Trooper Pentland was based at CFB Petawawa in Ontario, he had served earlier at Gagetown and his family still lives near the New Brunswick base. His father, Warrant Officer (retired) Jim Pentland, was a former crewman with the Dragoons.

Friends and colleagues described Trooper Pentland as a strong, big-hearted man who wanted nothing more in life than to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who also served in the military.

“What a marvellous epitaph for a human being to leave behind — that he was considered genuine and that he had such respect for his family he wanted to do the things his father had done,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Stephen Cadden, commander of the Dragoons.

Padre Alex Varga told the funeral service that Trooper Pentland once asked relatives about the possibility of adopting an orphan in Afghanistan and bringing the child back to Canada.

“He loved children,” Mr. Varga said of Trooper Pentland, who was not married and had no children of his own.

Mr. Varga comforted the Pentland family with a homily that stressed the need for faith in eternal life.

“God did not take Patrick,” Mr. Varga told the mourners. “A war took Patrick; evil in the world took Patrick. God caught him when he fell and now God carries him safely into eternal life.”

Trooper Pentland died when the light-armoured vehicle he was driving hit a roadside bomb near Kandahar. Also killed in the blast was Master Corporal Allan Stewart, whose funeral was held at Petawawa on Friday.

Trooper Pentland's funeral ends a difficult and sad week for the Canadian military and relatives of the dead soldiers.

Funerals began on Wednesday for six soldiers killed on Easter Sunday when the light-armoured vehicle in which they were travelling struck a roadside bomb.

Corporal Brent Poland, Master Corporal Christopher Stannix, Sergeant Donald Lucas, Corporal Aaron Williams, Private Kevin Kennedy and Private David Greenslade were killed instantly in the explosion. The six were buried in their home provinces in Atlantic Canada and Ontario.

The soldiers were members of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, based at CFB Gagetown.

MCpl. Stewart and Trooper Pentland, who both served with the Royal Canadian Dragoons based at CFB Petawawa, died three days after the Easter Sunday attack in a similar roadside bombing.

The deaths marked the deadliest week for Canadians in combat since the Korean War.

A ninth soldier, 25-year-old Anthony Klumpenhower who served with elite special forces, died last week after he fell from a communications tower while on duty conducting surveillance in Kandahar City.

Since 2002, 54 Canadian soldiers and one Canadian diplomat have been killed in Afghanistan.

Officials at CFB Gagetown said a memorial service for all of the recent casualties is being planned for Wednesday at the base.