OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Sept. 30, 2006) - The Honourable Gordon O'Connor, Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement today on the death of Private Josh Klukie:

"On behalf of the Defence family and our brave men and women in uniform I extend my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Private Josh Klukie.

This brave soldier gave his life providing hope for a brighter future, free from hardship and struggle, to the people of Afghanistan.

Canada is in Afghanistan helping to stabilize and reconstruct the country. Private Klukie gave his life so that the Afghan people have the means to build a better future for themselves and their communities.

Canadians stand united in pride and gratitude behind our Canadian Forces. We honour Private Klukie's courage and commitment. His sacrifice will not be forgotten."

Private Josh Klukie was a member of 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ontario, and died from the blast of an Improvised Explosive Device. His death came on the same day that funerals were held in Canada for three other soldiers who were killed Sept. 18 by a suicide bomber.

The flag-draped casket of Pte. Josh Klukie is heading home after a solemn farewell in Afghanistan.

The 10th Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan last month was a young private from Thunder Bay, Ont., who the military identified on Saturday.

Klukie’s troopmates gave him a final salute on Sunday, wiping tears from their cheeks as they promised to make a pilgrimage to his hometown of Thunder Bay, Ont. when their mission is complete.