Leading Seaman Brandon South came home Wednesday afternoon, in a military repatriation ceremony at Victoria International Airport.
South died in Tanzania on April 21. He was en route to Canada for a scheduled leave period from Esquimalt-based HMCS Regina, which is currently deployed on Operation Artemis. His body was taken from an aircraft and carried by an honour guard to a waiting hearse as members of his family, friends and members of the Canadian Forces stood on the tarmac.
Lt. Greg Menzies said the ceremony was about recognizing South’s contributions as a member of the military and a way of paying respect to his family, friends and those with whom he served.
“He was a member of the military family,” Menzies said. “When something like this happens, it strikes close to the heart.”
A statement from South’s family was sent to local media by the Royal Canadian Navy.
“It is with deep sadness that we prepare to say goodbye to our beloved Brandon,” read the statement. “Brandon was a genuinely good person with a big heart who other people were naturally drawn to. He was a good father to his children and a good husband, who loved his family deeply.
“Brandon served his country proudly as a member of the Royal Canadian Navy for 14 years. While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate the way he lived his life, and hope that it serves as an example for others to follow.
“We ask for your understanding and privacy at this difficult time.”
Menzies added Canada’s soldiers cannot do their jobs without the support of their families back at home and Wednesday’s ceremony was a moment of solidarity for the broader military family.
A procession of funeral vehicles and police and veteran association motorcyles traveled the Pat Bay Highway as the family took South to an area funeral home. The cause of South’s death is still be investigated by the Canadian military.