KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – A “Gentle Giant” who fought hardship on the battlefield without a word of complaint was killed Monday by an improvised explosive device, the fourth member of the Canadian military to die in Afghanistan this month.
Trooper Larry Rudd, 26, died at 12:30 p.m. local time after an IED detonated near the Panjwaii district village of Salavat, about 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city, while he was on a combat resupply patrol.
“Trooper Rudd will be remembered by the soldiers that served alongside him as a professional soldier who never complained regardless of the hardship that he and his crew endured,” Col. Simon Hetherington, deputy commander of Task Force Kandahar, told a news conference at Kandahar Airfield.
“He was the type of man that soldiers of all ranks looked to for friendship. Larry was a go-to soldier who always put the needs of his family, his friends and his fellow soldiers before those of his own.”
Hetherington spoke on behalf of Brig.-Gen. Dan Menard, who is on leave.
Among his military comrades with the Petawawa, Ont.-based Royal Canadian Dragoons, Rudd stood taller than most _ both in physicality and maturity.
“He was big, strong and fit, and despite his intimidating size, he was considered the Gentle Giant within his squadron,” Hetherington said.
“Larry was mature well beyond his rank and experience, and demonstrated enormous potential within the armoured corps and certainly within his regiment.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement offering condolences to Rudd’s loved ones.
“We are deeply saddened by your loss. Please be reassured by knowing that the country stands behind you in these most trying times,” Harper said.
“The commitment and sacrifice demonstrated by the brave men and women of the Canadian Forces is a great source of pride to all Canadians. We are eternally grateful for the sacrifices made by Trooper Rudd. He will not be forgotten.”
The death of the Brantford, Ont., native is the latest sign that the insurgent fighting season in Afghanistan has begun.
It comes less than a week after Col. Geoff Parker _ the highest-ranking member of the Canadian military to die in the Afghan mission _ was killed in a suicide car bombing in Kabul that killed 17 others.
Seven Afghans have been arrested in connection with that bombing.
The Panjwaii district is known as the birthplace of the Taliban and has been a bloody battleground for Canadian troops since they arrived in Kandahar province in strength four years ago.
Dozens of Canadians have been injured or killed in the restive district, and while villages and towns have been repeatedly cleared, the Taliban has quietly reasserted itself in parts of the region.
More Canadian military personnel have been killed as a result of an IED blast than from any other cause.
Rudd’s death came two days after insurgents launched mortars and rockets at Kandahar Airfield in failed effort to breach the base.
A British military blog reported that Canadian soldiers were wounded in the attack, but that report was yanked Monday after the International Security Assistance Force said it was posted without approval and contained some incorrect information.
A spokesman for ISAF declined to provide the correct information, citing its policy against releasing information about the nationalities and numbers of those injured in militant attacks.
The Canadian Forces has a similar policy and didn’t say whether anyone was injured in the blast that killed Rudd.
Rudd’s death, the eighth this year, brings to 146 the total number of Canadian military personnel who have died as part of the Afghan mission since it began in 2002.
Two civilians, diplomat Glyn Berry and journalist Michelle Lang, have also been killed.