KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -
Another member of the Canadian Forces has been killed in Afghanistan.
Petty Officer (second class) Craig Blake, 37, died after an improvised explosive device detonated about 25 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City.
The Simcoe, Ont., native was returning to camp Monday after successfully disposing of another IED when the blast went off at about 4:30 p.m. local time.
Blake - a member of a diving unit based in Shearwater, N.S. - leaves behind his wife and two children. He was only in Afghanistan for a couple of weeks on his first tour in the country when he was killed.
Brig.-Gen. Dan Menard, the commander of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, said Blake was known among his fellow soldiers as a role model who also had a penchant for games of chance.
"He was a compassionate and approachable leader whose positive attitude motivated other soldiers to achieve great results," said Menard.
"Jokingly known as the 'Poker Pirate,' he enjoyed pillaging his army friends during friendly card games. He had a great smile and a genuine laugh and his friends considered themselves very lucky to have known him."
In a statement early Monday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Blake was a "brave Canadian who made the ultimate sacrifice while proudly serving his country."
Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean added that Blake "offered the best of himself" while showing an "extraordinary commitment in providing assistance to the Afghan people."
Blake represents the first Canadian death in Afghanistan since April 11, when Pte. Tyler William Todd was killed in a roadside blast while on foot patrol southwest of Kandahar City.
The latest death brings to 143 the total number of Canadian troops who have died as part of the Afghan mission since it began in 2002.