Petty Officer Second Class Craig Blake
OTTAWA — One Canadian Forces member was killed after an improvised explosive device detonated during a dismounted operation, about 25 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City, in the Panjwayi District, at approximately 4:40 p.m. Kandahar time on 3 May 2010.
Killed in action was Petty Officer Second Class Craig Blake a member of Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic), based in Shearwater, Nova Scotia. He was serving with Task Force 1-10.
We are all thinking of the family and friends of our Canadian fallen comrade during this sad time. The commitment and sacrifice of our military and their loved ones are helping to make a difference in the lives of the people of Kandahar Province.... (DND)
Brig.-Gen. Dan Ménard, the commander of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, said the Simcoe, Ont., native was returning to camp Monday afternoon after successfully disposing of another IED when the blast went off.
Blake, a married father of two, was serving his first tour of duty in Afghanistan. He had only been in the country for a few weeks when he was killed.
In a statement, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Blake was a "brave Canadian who made the ultimate sacrifice while proudly serving his country."
Blake served with the Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic, based in Nova Scotia.
"A navy clearance diver, Craig was most comfortable working under water, yet he effortlessly adapted to the rigours of land operations," Ménard said in a statement.
"Incredibly fit, with a backbone of steel, Craig put 100 per cent into everything he did."
'Bittersweet' day for navy
According to navy officials, Blake is the first sailor to die in action since October 2004, when Lt. Chris Saunders was killed aboard a submarine en route to Halifax.
Gen. Walter Natynczyk, Canada's top military commander, told CBC News it was a "bittersweet day" for the navy, which is marking 100 years of service to Canada on Tuesday.
"Our divers are highly trained professionals who are able to go underwater and defuse bombs and explosives," Natynczyk said.
"So they proved their mettle in Afghanistan and have for a number of years."
Natynczyk said more than 100 sailors have been rotating through Afghanistan.
N.S. remembers Blake
Friends from Nova Scotia praised Blake, a local hockey coach and triathlete, in comments posted on CBCNews.ca.
"I sailed with Craig. My son played hockey with his son," a reader using the name Leftees_Bcst_Co said. "He was a good, kind and cheerful man."
Another reader, who goes by the name Cambee from Dartmouth, said Blake was her son's hockey coach, adding that he was an "amazing man" who loved his family. (CBC)