Monday, December 8, 2008

Three Canadians Killed Return Home

TORONTO — Canadians will salute and wage flags from overpasses above the "Highway of Heroes" again Monday in honour of three young soldiers.

Cpl. Mark McLaren, Pvt. Demetrios Diplaros, and Warrant Officer Robert Wilson died Friday by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. The military flight carrying their caskets home is scheduled to arrive CFB Trenton in eastern Ontario at about 2 p.m. ET.

The bodies will then be taken to the coroner's building in Toronto along a 172-kilometre stretch of Highway 401 called the "Highway of Heroes."

The public outpouring of respect and affection along the highway has become familiar, yet the poignancy of the ritual seems to grow each time.

The deaths of McLaren, Diplaros and Wilson brought the military toll on the Afghan mission to 100.

Tens of thousands are expected to line Canada's Highway of Heroes today to pay tribute to the three soldiers killed in Afghanistan, marking both their sacrifice and the grim milestone of 100 Canadian soldiers killed on active duty there.

The bodies of Warrant Officer Robert John Wilson, Pte. Demetrios Diplaros and Cpl. Mark Robert McLaren – victims Friday of an explosive device near Kandahar – will make the now-familiar journey from CFB Trenton to a coroner's morgue in downtown Toronto.

Expected at the repatriation ceremony at Trenton are Governor General Michaëlle Jean, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. W.J. Natynczk.

The military plane carrying the bodies is to land at Trenton at 2 p.m. The motorcade is expected to leave the base at around 3 p.m. and depending on traffic variables, reach Oshawa at 4:15 p.m., Scarborough at about 4:45 p.m. and the coroner's building in Toronto at about 5:15 p.m.

A Toronto traffic officer cautioned that the motorcades from Trenton usually travel 30 minutes to an hour behind schedule.

The public tributes for Canada's fallen along the 172-kilometre route have caused commentators in other countries, including Britain, to take note and wonder why its own military victims aren't similarly honoured.

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