Caked with several layers of dust and fatigued from almost five weeks in the field, the soldiers of Hotel Company took to their vehicles on the afternoon of Easter Sunday knowing a warm shower and a fresh meal were only one task away.
The troops of Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, had been patrolling the Maywand District of northwest Kandahar province since March 6 and Sunday’s task - to escort a convoy of troops and supplies through the desert into Helmand province, as they had done the two previous days before - was to be their last before returning to base for some much-needed rest.
Not only that, but there had been no attacks on police checkpoints during the weeks they were patrolling the Maywand area and their company commander had formed strong and fruitful relationships with local leaders and elders.
Morale would have had to be sky-high.
Then at about 1:30 p.m. a LAV III carrying 10 Canadian soldiers hit an improvised explosive device (IED) that ripped through the back of the armoured carrier, killing six soldiers.
Military leaders said Monday that the bomb was laid at a choke point among a collection of deep irrigation wells - at the only place vehicles would have to drive in order to avoid a major diversion.
A few feet either way, and the bomb doesn't go off. A moment's delay or haste, and many more might have died. The difference between a routine mission and a deadly one often comes down to as little as inches and seconds.
A lesson that has to be learned again with every war: there are no guarantees on the battlefield.
Source: National Post