EDMONTON â€” An Edmonton soldier killed in Afghanistan will be laid to rest with a military funeral in the city at the wishes of his family, his commanding officer said Monday.
“The word I did get from Trooper Hayakaze’s father, Ted, was just that he expressed a wish to honour and respect his son’s service to society, and of course we’ll respect that,” said Lt.-Col. Pascal Demers, commanding officer of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians).
Michael Yuki Hayakaze, who was due to end his tour later this month, was killed Sunday by a roadside bomb, becoming the 79th Canadian soldier to die in the war-torn country since 2002.
His family has declined to comment and no one answered the door Monday at Hayakaze’s mother’s small stucco house in Edmonton.
Hayakaze joined the Canadian Forces in June 2006, and the Strathconas in November of that year, said Demers. Shortly after that, he began specialized training to prepare him for deployment to Afghanistan, spending much of his time travelling to Fort Bliss, Texas, and Wainwright, Alta., as well as to Germany for specialized driver training.
“I saw him in Fort Bliss, and spoke with him briefly, and spoke with him again when he was doing some training in Germany,” said Demers.
“He was a bit quiet and reserved, but from what I gathered he seemed to be very capable, very competent, and resolute in getting on with going to Afghanistan and trying to make a bit of a difference.”
The Strathconas left for Afghanistan in the summer, but Hayakaze was part of the unit’s reserve, and he was deployed to the country in October to replace another driver who had been injured by a similar roadside bomb, said Demers.
On a Facebook group dedicated to the troops, support flowed for Hayakaze’s family from a growing group of other Canadian families who understand what they’re going through.
“I, too, know this loss all too well,” said Kelly Bouzane, whose little brother, Cpl. Stephen Frederick Bouzane, died June 20, 2007.
“God bless and may Michael rest in peace.”
Sheila Anderson, the mother of Cpl. Jordan Anderson, one of six soldiers killed last July, wrote to “Michael’s parents especially, but to all of his family.”
“We lost our son Jordan last summer, you will never ‘get over it’ … you will feel better in time,” she wrote.
“Know that you are not alone, know that Canada grieves with you, know that your beloved son gave his life of his own will and that he didn’t die in vain.”
Another Facebook group, this one set up by those who knew Hayakaze well, gave a glimpse into the young man’s life.
Mike Williams, who set up the memorial, said he’ll always remember battling with BB guns, joking that since Hayakaze was smaller he needed a stronger gun.
“Very few people get the chance to see let alone know a hero, I have had the pleasure of being related to one! R.I.P Brother! I miss u more every minute,” wrote Williams.