WINNIPEG — The body of a Royal Canadian Air Force search and rescue technician who died during a training exercise near Yorkton, Sask., last week has been returned to Winnipeg.
Master Cpl. Alfred Barr, 31, was part of the 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron at 17 Wing.
An investigation has been launched into his death but military officials have said they suspect there was a malfunction in his parachute.
Barr enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces in 2009 and arrived at 17 Wing in June.
His fiancee, Stephanie Hempel, issued a statement on Monday saying his death was “cruel and unfair” but he knew the risks of his job and accepted them.
She said he fully embraced the SAR Tech motto: “That others may live.”
“He was incredibly kind and thoughtful, someone who always put others before himself,” Hempel said.
She described him as intelligent and talented, noting his hobbies included cooking, woodworking and leatherwork, as well as physical challenges including ultra-marathons, fat biking and canoeing. He was also learning to speak several languages, including Danish, German and French.
“When we first started dating long distance, we wrote letters to one another, and Alfred would use fine paper, calligraphy pens and seal the envelopes with wax,” she recalled.
“Alfred was a true Canadian. He loved the Albertan mountains, especially Waterton National Park. Being originally from Fort Nelson, B.C., and later calling Lethbridge, Alta., his hometown, he also shared a great love for the wild woods and cooler temperatures where he could practice bush craft skills and camping.”
She called his death a “surreal situation,” adding she still expects him to walk through the door.
“We had plans to travel, to have children, and to grow old in each other’s company. We were just setting out on our adventure together. He didn’t deserve to die. I miss him terribly, and he will be in my heart forever.”