LOWER SACKVILLE, N.S.—Cpl. Paul Davis was remembered yesterday “as a valued brother and an inspirational and honourable Canadian soldier” during a military funeral attended by hundreds of mourners.
Davis, 28, died instantly in Afghanistan on March 2 when the armoured vehicle he was riding in collided with a taxi, swerved into a ditch and overturned.
“His compassion and genuine regard for others was truly a breath of fresh air in a world filled with hurt and cruelty,” Cpl. Shane Schofield said during one of three emotional eulogies.
Davis, married and the father of two young children, was the gunner in the vehicle when it careened off the road.
An Afghan interpreter and six Canadian soldiers were also injured.
Master Cpl. Tim Wilson later died from his injuries.
Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald, several high-ranking military officers and the U.S. consul general to Nova Scotia were among the mourners at Knox United Church in Lower Sackville, not far from Halifax.
“It is grief that brings us together and in our grief we give acknowledgement to our own human loss,” Rev. Bob Chapman told mourners that included Davis’s wife, Melanie.
“Through this spiritual community, know also that not only the people of Lower Sackville but all Canadians share this time of sorrow with you.”
Cpl. Jae Dunfield, a friend from high school, cried several times during his tribute to Davis.
Dunfield described Davis, whom he met in the summer of 1993 when the two were in Grade 10, as a best friend “who made him laugh to tears.”
“With his incredible smile and personality, you only had to meet Paul once for him to have an effect on your life — and that is why there are so many of us here today,” he said between heavy sobs.
Last week, Davis was part of a routine patrol in Kandahar that was on its way to meet with local Afghan officials.
His father, Jim Davis, said his son had a deep sense of duty that had earlier taken him to Bosnia and made him turn down a promotion that would have seen him avoid service in Afghanistan.
“When he decided to go to Afghanistan, that really impressed me because he loved his family and his two children, but he had the sense of duty, and comradeship with the other people he had been training with,” he said.
It was his son’s pursuit of adventure that led him to join the military at age 18, his father said.
The young soldier served in Gagetown, N.B., Wainwright, Alta., and was eventually posted with the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, based in Shilo, Man.
Davis, who grew up near Halifax and Bridgewater, N.S., leaves behind his wife and two daughters, age 5 and 3.
The service occurred on a day when Canadian soldiers again came under attack in southern Afghanistan.
No one was hurt when a roadside bomb damaged a Bison armoured vehicle.
Several soldiers were injured in a suicide attack a week ago.
And Lieut. Trevor Greene of Vancouver was struck on the head with an axe last Saturday while meeting with tribal elders.
He remains in critical condition.