06/25/2011 02:58 EDT | Updated 08/25/2011 05:12 EDT

Francis Roy, Canada Soldier, Dead In Afghanistan In Non-Combat Related Incident


THE CANADIAN PRESS -- KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - The Canadian military has identified the soldier who died of non-combat injuries in Afghanistan.

Master Cpl. Francis Roy, a member of the country's special forces regiment, was found by fellow soldiers early Saturday at a forward operating base in Kandahar city.

Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, the commander of the Canadian task force, says Roy was a logistician, responsible for transport of troops and equipment.

The military announced the death Saturday, but the release of Roy's name was delayed at the family's request.

Originally an infantry soldier with the Royal 22e Regiment, Roy "volunteered for service with the Canadian Special Operations Regiment in 2009 and quickly became an effective member of the regiment," said Milner in a short statement Sunday night.

Roy served a regular forces overseas tour in 2008-09 at Camp Mirage in the United Arab Emirates supporting the Afghanistan mission.

His age was not immediately available.

An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death is still being carried out by military police, although enemy action has been ruled out.

It is suspected he may have taken his own life.

Milner said the thoughts of the task force are with soldier's family and friends.

In a statement, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Roy and other soldiers have "made an invaluable contribution to stabilizing and developing that country."

Roy, originally from Rimouski, Que., was on his first deployment with special forces and becomes the 157th Canadian to die as a result of the Afghan mission.

If suicide is determined, it would be the second such case in a month.

The body of Bombardier Karl Manning, 31, a native of Chicoutimi, Que., was found by fellow soldiers at a remote base near Zangabad on May 28.

The task force's senior chaplain, Maj. Grahame Thompson, said it's a tough time for the soldiers with only three weeks remaining in the combat mission.

"We are focused on what we need to do," he said. "I think for some, those who were closest to the member are going to find it more difficult than others."

The special forces operate independently of regular troops and are tasked with hunting down the Taliban leadership and conducting specialized raids and disruption operations against insurgents.

It's a highly secretive organization and none of Roy's friends are allowed to speak with the media.

The death is the fifth suspected suicide involving a soldier overseas since the Afghan mission began in 2002 and comes as combat operations wind down.

Thompson said the troops are trying not be distracted.

"We want to stay focused on the mission and we plan to finish on a high note, but at the same time we have opportunities for those who need to talk."

Regardless of how the person died, Thompson said, soldiers are affected by the loss of a comrade.

"I can't say there's been anything unique about the way people grieve in any of the instances," he said. "If you lose a friend, you lose a friend. It's hard."