LONGUEUIL, Que. – Warrant officer Patrice Vincent, who died after being hit by a car driven by an attacker with known jihadist sympathies, was a man who could easily command attention, says one of his colleagues.
“He was always all over the place helping people out and when he came into a room, you definitely felt it,” Sgt. Marc Adolphe recalled in an interview.
“He had a very positive energy to him, a very big voice, always smiling, always happy.”
A funeral will be held Saturday in Longueuil, Que., for Vincent, 53, who died of his injuries after he and another soldier were struck by a car on Oct. 20.
Authorities have said the driver, Martin Couture-Rouleau, deliberately hit the soldiers in a parking lot in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, southeast of Montreal.
Police eventually shot him after a car chase.
Two days later, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was fatally shot while standing sentry at the National War Memorial before his attacker, Michael Zehaf Bibeau, was himself killed in a dramatic shootout in the halls of the Parliamentary Buildings.
Vincent was working as a member of the military’s personnel support staff when he was struck.
Adolphe said he came to know the veteran soldier during the past few years as they worked together in the IT department at 438 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Saint-Hubert, near Montreal.
The two men did a lot of troubleshooting on computer and telephone systems on the base.
“He enjoyed what he did, which made everything go much easier,” Adolphe said. “He brought fun to the job.”
Vincent is best remembered for his longtime work as a military firefighter.
“I always identified him as a firefighter because I was impressed by the fact that he was (one),” Adolphe said. “But the job itself, it was much more IT-related.”
Vincent joined the Forces in the spring of 1986 as a combat engineer. After completing his initial trade training, he was posted later that year to CFB Valcartier, near Quebec City.
In 1990, he redeployed as a military firefighter and served at a number of Canadian Forces bases, including Comox, B.C; Trenton, Ont; Edmonton; and North Bay, Ont.
Vincent also served around the world on several warships.
Adolphe, 43, was at home when he heard the news that his colleague had been run over.
“I was overcome, I was so shocked, I couldn’t understand it, it didn’t make any sense to me,” he said.
Even now, the 15-year military veteran has had a hard time coping with the void left by Vincent’s death.
“I still expect to see him at work, I miss the sound of his voice, I miss seeing his face,” said a sombre Adolphe. “It’s a huge loss for me and for our (military) family.”
Several days after the death, Vincent’s family issued a statement and asked to be allowed to grieve in private.
“His passing will create a huge void in our hearts,” it read. “Patrice was very proud to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces. He did what he loved and we supported him during the 28 years he served.
“Patrice loved life; he was well liked by everyone and he always spoke passionately about his involvement with the Canadian Armed Forces. Serving was his way of making a difference in our world.”
The statement also said the family’s thoughts were with Couture-Rouleau’s relatives.
Cpl. Gauthier Beaudoin said he learned a lot from Vincent even though they only worked together for about a year.
“He’s not someone who would stop when he faced an obstacle,” Beaudoin said in an interview on the base. “He is someone who would share his experience.
“He was someone who always went out of his way to help others in the unit.”
Beaudoin, 29, was shocked when he learned of the death of his colleague’s death, but those who work on the base have vowed to carry on.
“We’re continuing our mission – and we’re thinking of the family,” he added.