BURGEO, N.L. – Hundreds of mourners filled two churches in this small Newfoundland community on Sunday to bid farewell to Sgt. Vaughan Ingram.
The 35-year-old, who was born and raised in Burgeo, was one of three soldiers killed in Afghanistan during a grenade assault by Taliban forces near Kandahar on Aug. 3.
The service was closed to the media at the family’s request, but more than a thousand people attended, said Capt. Michael Pretty, the assisting officer for the family.
About 600 people filled the church where the funeral was held, and between 600 and 700 watched a video feed of the funeral in another church nearby.
“When we went outside, and the people who couldn’t fit in both churches were lined on the streets,” Pretty said.
“I looked back, and as far as I could see, up the street, up the hill, there were easily 1,200 people.”
Friends and family from across Newfoundland and from Edmonton, where Ingram was stationed, attended, as well as Brig.-Gen. Rick Parsons, the commander of Land Force Atlantic Area.
Parsons presented both Ingram’s wife and mother with a Memorial Cross. His mother received the flag that covered Ingram’s coffin when it left Afghanistan.
The ceremony continued at the town’s cenotaph, where Ingram’s medals and beret were given to his five-year-old daughter Brooke. Another flag was presented to his 13-year-old daughter Samantha McCoubrie.
As Ingram’s body was driven away to be cremated, his daughters each let go of a white balloon that rose skyward.
“And she said, `There is my daddy going to heaven,”’ Pretty said of Brooke.
The news of the soldier’s death quickly cast a cloud over the tight-knit community of 2,400.
Immediately after he was killed in Canada’s bloodiest day so far in Afghanistan, Ingram was remembered by those who knew him as a fearless soldier who was resolute in carrying out his mission.
Two months earlier, Ingram was injured in a firefight when Taliban fighters fired on the light-armoured vehicle he was riding in.
He was just weeks away from rotating out of Afghanistan when he died.
Cpl. Bryce Keller and Pte. Kevin Dallaire also died in the Aug. 3 attack. Cpl. Christopher Reid of Truro, N.S., who was remembered at a funeral service on Saturday, died in a separate roadside bomb attack the same day.
All four were from the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry based in Edmonton.
Three more soldiers have died since, bringing to 26 the number killed since the Afghanistan mission began in 2002. A Canadian diplomat has also died.