Master Corporal Patrice Audet
Master Corporal Patrice (Pat) Yvon Audet joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1988, right out of high school at the age of 17.
With a long-standing interest in the armed forces, and as a member of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, it was only natural that MCpl Audet, born in Montreal, Quebec, 19 April 1971, joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. After basic training, he trained as a flight engineer with the 430 Tactical Helicopter Squadron.
Stationed at Valcartier, Quebec, MCpl Audet lived in Val Belair, Quebec, with his wife, Katherine Potvin.
MCpl Audet served his first tour in the Middle East in 2002. In April 2009, he was posted with the 430 Tactical Squadron to Afghanistan as part of the Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing (Task Force Silver Dart). Along with CH-146 Griffon helicopters, the Wing—stationed at Kandahar Airfield (KAF)—also operated American Ch-147 Chinook D helicopters and CU-170 Heron drones.
MCpl Audet died on 6 July 2009 when his Griffon CH-146 helicopter crashed at a forward operating base 80 kilometres northeast of KAF as the pilot attempted to takeoff while engulfed in a swirling ball of dust.
Cpl Martin Joannette, 25, and a British officer, Captain Ben Babington-Browne, 27, of the 22 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers, also died in the crash. Three Canadians, including one of the pilots, were injured in the crash, as well.
Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance described MCpl Audet as a "charismatic man who always knew the right words to put a smile on someone's face." He was, as Brig.-Gen. Vance said, a "big man with a gentle heart."
MCpl Audet's friend and comrade-in-arms, Gilles Roussel, meanwhile, said MCpl Audet "looked on the bright side."
An optimist with a sense of humour, MCpl Audet also loved scuba diving. A few weeks before his death, MCpl Audet travelled to Spain to go diving while on leave.
A street (Rue Audet) at the Kandahar Airfield was named in MCpl Audet's honour.
During his service, MCpl Audet received the Southwest Asia Service Medal and the Canadian Forces' Decoration.