As they've done many times before, hundreds of soldiers of different nationalities lined the tarmac at Kandahar Airfield to salute yet another fallen comrade before his body was transported back to Canada.
The ramp ceremony Sunday was for Master Cpl. Josh Roberts, who was killed during a confusing skirmish in Zhari district west of Kandahar city the previous morning.
As is custom, eight comrades from his 9th platoon, C Company, carried his flag-draped casket from a LAV III armoured vehicle to a waiting Hercules transport plane while a lone piper played a solemn lament.
"Those who have had the honour of knowing Master Cpl. Roberts describe him as the embodiment of a brother, in the truest sense of the world," battlegroup chaplain Capt. Darren Persaud said.
"Truth, honour and loyalty were not mere words to Josh, but the unspoken creed which he lived his life by."
"Sadly, the sun has set on the life of another true Canadian son, dear friend and soldier. Let us never forget his sacrifice."
The Saskatoon native and member of the Second Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry based out of Shilo, Man., was shot while in the turret of his LAV III armoured vehicle during an operation.
An investigation is underway as it's believed he may have been killed accidentally by a passing convoy of private security guards who likely believed they were engaging insurgents.
Roberts leaves behind his fiancee Lise and his unborn son Meyer, who is due in a month - around the time Roberts likely would have been finishing his six-month tour.
His family release a statement through the military Sunday saying Roberts believed in what he was doing.
"Josh was a soldier. He had always wanted to be a soldier, and he loved what he did," the family said.
"He felt strongly in what he was doing, and the family is hopeful Canadians will understand and appreciate the sacrifice Josh has made for all Canadians, and the sacrifice of all families of military personnel serving in Afghanistan."
The family members, who were preparing to travel to Trenton, Ont., to meet Roberts' body, asked for their privacy during "this time of tremendous shock and grief."
Battlegroup commander Lt.-Col. Dave Corbould said he had the honour of promoting Roberts just two weeks ago. A reservist with the North Saskatchewan Regiment for 10 years, Roberts transferred to the regular forces in August 2006.
"He's the kind of guy we would describe as a soldier's soldier, and I know that's a coined phrase but in actual fact he was one of those real guys," Corbould told reporters after the ceremony.
"Always carrying his share and more, and always looking out for his buddies and comrades any which way. Quite often they may not have realized it, but he was looking after them one way or another."
At the time of his death, Roberts and his battlegroup were involved in an operation with Afghan security forces and their Canadian mentors, aimed at disrupting insurgent activity along a tract of rugged farm land known to be a Taliban hotbed.
Members of the battlegroup drove south from an outpost on the main highway, while Afghan forces and their Canadian mentors set out on foot across two wadis - dried river beds - to form a block on either side.
Small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and 82 millimetre recoilless rifle rounds began erupting across the scorched countryside around 9 a.m., sending grape farmers, women and children fleeing from villages.
Canadian troops fired back from their armoured vehicles and called in artillery strikes as Canadian mentor teams on the ground hunkered down for cover, some of them waist deep in water.
Eventually, troops realized they were also being fired on from the north.
It's believed private security providing escort for a civilian convoy was heading west along the main highway when it spotted the insurgents and opened fire, presumably not realizing Canadian troops were already there engaging the group of about 15 insurgents.
It's not immediately clear which private security company was involved.
The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, a branch of the military police which probes incidents involving Canadian military personnel and property, is looking into the incident but the military offered no new details.