A Canadian soldier who died in a parachute accident in Bulgaria last month was remembered as a “gifted soldier” at his funeral.
Bombardier Patrick Labrie died during a low-altitude training jump on June 17. His body arrived days later at the Ottawa airport. His funeral was held at the Saint-Grégoire de Nazianze Church in Gatineau, Que., on Saturday.
Labrie had been with the Canadian Armed Forces for six years and was based out of Petawawa, Ont.
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Roads were closed as a military procession brought Labrie’s body from the Royal Canadian Legion on Joseph Street to the church.
Dozens of people gathered at the funeral around 11 a.m. to pay a final tribute to the 28-year-old Buckingham, Que., native. Twelve soldiers carried out a ceremonial gun salute with 36 blank rounds.
“We had a tremendous amount of respect for him,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Dan Matheson who served with Labrie.
“He was trustworthy and and he was [an] inspiration to his peers and a person that they would like to emulate as they move through their careers.”
Labrie’s loss is still being felt among his fellow soldiers, Matheson said.
“The regiment is still in a lot of pain. I fully admit, it’s just reverberating through,” he said. “He meant so much to so many. He had groups of friends that transcended cliques and groups that would ordinarily not hang out together.”
“He was that kind of guy, he brought people together and that’s what made him such a great leader and such a tremendous loss for us.”
Some friends travelled from overseas to attend Labrie’s funeral.
“He was a friendly and passionate young man,” said Patrick Bidale, a family friend from France.
“What we saw today is something you would see on television… it’s very hard,” said Bidale through tears.
At the time of his death, Labrie was taking part in Exercise Swift Response 19, which happened from June 8 to 27 in various locations in Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania.
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He was part of a contingent of about 100 Canadians who were participating in the U.S.-led training exercise.
The military is continuing to investigate Labrie’s death and what went wrong during the training jump.