About Cpl. Michael Starker
CALGARY - Funeral services for the latest Canadian killed in Afghanistan, Cpl. Michael Starker took place yesterday in Calgary.
Cpl. Starker, 36, was killed May 6 when his foot patrol was ambushed in the Zhari district of Kandahar province.
A military escort brought his casket to the Roundup Centre, a large auditorium on the Calgary Stampede grounds. As the ceremony began, a choir sang from a stage decorated with bouquets of white flowers and a procession of soldiers carried Cpl. Starker's coffin, draped in white, past hundreds of onlookers.
Soldiers saluted the slain medic's remains as they passed by, while others in the crowd wiped away tears.
As a priest presided over the Catholic service, Cpl. Starker's wife, Nicole, sat listening, surrounded by family members.
Wearing a black dress, the widow occasionally smiled or let out a brief laugh as the priest -- who witnessed her marriage to the reservist in 1997 -- recalled the time the soldier was first brought home to meet her family.
"Michael was a good guy ... he was a person of love, and he would want us to recognize that the things he did were because of his desire to love," the priest said. "Michael enjoyed the opportunity to share and to make our world a better place."
Cpl. Starker, who worked for Calgary EMS and was a member of the now-disbanded Canadian Airborne Regiment, was serving his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.
A total of 83 Canadian soldiers have died during the Afghanistan mission.
© The Ottawa Citizen 2008
From the CBC Website
More than a thousand people gathered in Calgary on Friday for the memorial service for Cpl. Michael Starker, the Calgary paramedic and reservist who was killed when his unit was ambushed in Afghanistan last week.
Among those joining family and friends for the funeral at the Roundup Centre in Stampede Park were members of the Canadian Forces and Calgary's emergency services.
At least 200 people from other emergency services across Canada were also in attendance to honour the slain soldier.
Starker was shot and killed May 6 while on a foot patrol in the Pashmul region, outside Kandahar City. He was 36.Thousands of people lined Calgary streets, holding Canadian flags as the procession went past. (CBC)
He had been providing medical assistance to fellow soldiers in Afghanistan since December as a reservist with the Alberta-based 15 Field Ambulance unit and was on his second tour of duty.
The memorial service combined a full Catholic requiem mass and a full-honours military service; it lasted about an hour and a half. People spoke of how much Starker liked to help others.
After the service his body was transported in a draped Calgary ambulance along the city's "Route of Valour" before the family was to hold a private burial ceremony.
Thousands of people lined the recessional route, many of them carrying small Canadian flags that had been distributed during the afternoon.An ambulance draped in a black ribbon carried Cpl. Mike Starker's body from the funeral service to city hall. (CBC)
"I think it's important for his family to know that Calgarians care and it's important for us to, I think, bond together as Canadians and say we care," said Tom Sampson, who is in charge of Calgary's ambulance service.
"In Calgary we talk about caring for the community. Mike was caring for the global community. He was an active medic on that unit when he was killed. It's a tragedy."'Nothing more tragic,' says mayor
Mayor Dave Bronconnier said the city was honouring the "passing of a very fine young man."Starker was killed May 6 in Afghanistan. (Department of National Defence)
Bronconnier said it's "very difficult when you're losing a fine Canadian soldier, more difficult when you're losing a valued employee, but of course, nothing more tragic than the loss of a family."
After the recessional march, family and invited guests attended the private interment at the Veteran's Field of Honour at Queen's Park Cemetery.
Memorials set up at EMS headquarters and the city's Municipal Building will be taken down following the service, and the books of condolences from the memorials will be collected and presented to the family.
The family requested that donations in memory of Starker be directed to the Poppy Fund or EMS Samaritan's Purse Fund, Operation Christmas Child.
Starker was the 83rd Canadian soldier and fourth Calgarian killed in Afghanistan since the mission began in 2002