Myless Mansell "stand easy"

VICTORIA -- Lindsay Sullivan clutched a folded Canadian flag to her chest as she accepted hugs of condolence on the steps of Christ Church Cathedral.

Only moments earlier, a white hearse bearing the casket of her fiancÚ, Bombardier Myles Mansell, had left under escort by eight police motorcyclists, as well as an honour guard of white-gloved soldiers. The flag held by Ms. Sullivan had draped the casket.

Bombardier Mansell, a reservist killed with three other soldiers in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan 12 days earlier, completed a long journey home yesterday to the tat-tat-tat of drums wrapped in black cloth.

A fallen soldier was honoured according to the venerable rites of the Anglican Church and the ancient traditions of the armed forces.

"While the end came far too soon for us, there are worse ways to die," said Lieutenant-Colonel David Ross, commanding officer of the 5th (British Columbia) Field Regiment. He had a final command for a man who was once under his command. "Bombardier Myles Mansell, stand easy."

The casket arrived at the church aboard a gun carriage towed by a field artillery tractor. The same vintage carriage had been used last year to carry the remains of Ernest (Smokey) Smith, the country's last living recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Bombardier Mansell was posthumously awarded a Campaign Star.

His family was presented with the medal on Tuesday night and yesterday afternoon the medal and the gunner's beret rested on cushions set atop his flag-draped casket.

A church whose pews hold 900 was so crowded that some gathered in the baptistery for a funeral service they could hear but not see.

A bagpiper played a lament, a horn sounded the Last Post and Reveille, and the regimental band played O Canada, an anthem whose martial spirit is understated, unlike so many others. From it, the family declared their lost son and brother to have been a "true patriot."

In December, the young couple announced their engagement after two years of courtship. Soon after, the 25-year-old reservist deployed for Afghanistan, a mission for which he had volunteered because he had wanted to be, in the words of brother Matthew Mansell, "helping people get the freedom we take for granted."

The Very Rev. Logan McMenamie spoke of the soldier's "supreme sacrifice," and Bombardier Mansell's uncle spoke of his having paid the "supreme price."

Sergeant Darrell Stubbington, who had befriended Bombardier Mansell during basic training, remembered long sessions of the board game Axis and Allies in the mess.

As a young man, he backpacked through Europe on a pilgrimage to Canadian war memorials.

Now, his name has been added to the nation's nearly 115,000 war dead.

"Willingness to die is part of what it means to practice the professional of arms," Captain John Steele, the regiment's padre, told the funeral service.

Bombardier Mansell died at the scene on April 22 when an improvised explosive device caused his lightly armoured vehicle to flip. Three other soldiers -- Corporal Matthew Dinning, Lt. William Turner and Cpl. Randy Payne -- were also killed. Matthew Mansell, 28, offered his condolences to those families while speaking at the church lectern yesterday.

Premier Gordon Campbell attended the two-hour service, as did Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe, member of Parliament Keith Martin and several MLAs.

Lieutenant-Governor Iona Campagnolo was scheduled to visit the isolated aboriginal community of Hartley Bay to present a commendation for the residents' rescue of the passengers and crew of a ferry, the Queen of the North.

The 5th (B.C.) Field Regiment is the official saluting battery for the province. Its members fire salutes for visiting members of the Royal Family, as well as at openings of the legislature, a custom dating to 1878.

Yesterday afternoon, the regiment offered a salute for one of their own, as riflemen fired three volleys.

Good funeral. hopefully he now lays at rest.
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