RIP Cplc Audet, Cpl Joannette and the other NATO soldier.
Thoughts and prayers to family, friends and comrades and wishes for a quick and full recovery for the other injured members of the crew.
Updated Mon. Jul. 6 2009 11:56 PM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
Two Canadian soldiers have died in a Griffon helicopter crash in Afghanistan, along with another coalition soldier. Three other Canadians were injured.
The killed Canadians have been identified as Master Cpl. Pat Audet, 38, and Cpl. Martin Joannette, 25. Both were based in Valcartier, Que.
Audet served with the 430 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, and Joannette was with the 3e Bataillon, Royal 22e Regiment.
Two of the injured soldiers were able to return to duty, while the third was listed in stable condition.
Military officials say the helicopter crashed at a U.S. base in Zabul province, about 80 kilometres northeast of Kandahar where the bulk of Canadian troops are based.
Insurgents were not involved in the incident, suggesting the helicopter may have suffered from mechanical failure.
"A flight-safety investigation is currently underway to determine the cause of the crash," said Canadian commander Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance.
Griffons are used mainly to transport troops, and are part of the Canadian Helicopter Force Afghanistan. They have been used by the Canadian military since the start of this year.
The majority of Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan have died from IED blasts along Kandahar's dangerous roads. Because of that, helicopters are considered a much safer method of transportation.
"With the arrival of the Griffon and Chinook helicopters in our area of operations, (Audet and Joannette) played a valuable role in reducing exposures to IEDs, and by providing aviation support to combat operations," said Vance.
Audet was on his first deployment to Afghanistan. He is survived by a wife, Katherine, and his parents. Joanette, although younger, was on his third deployment. He leaves behind a wife, Marie-Eve.
"Their contribution here in Afghanistan was incredible, and we will remember their sacrifice always," said Vance.
Canada has now lost four soldiers in as many days. Cpl. Nicholas Bulger died from an improvised explosive device on July 3, and Master Cpl. Charles-Philippe Michaud died the next day, succumbing from injuries he had suffered in a bomb blast the previous month.
"It has been an extremely difficult week here in Kandahar," said Vance. "We all are feeling a great sense of loss."
The latest casualties bring Canada's military death toll in Afghanistan to 124 since the mission began in 2002.
With files from The Canadian Press