Tamatea, Baker and Harris farewelled
Thu, 23 Aug 2012 6:15p.m.
By Hamish Clark
The bodies of the three New Zealand soldiers killed in Afghanistan have been brought home.
Corporal Luke Tamatea, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker and Private Richard Harris arrived in Christchurch this afternoon for an emotional and sombre military ceremony.
Military chiefs, comrades and family members watched on from the tarmac as the caskets were covered in the New Zealand ensign.
"For me as a soldier it is difficult and somewhat gut wrenching when you hear the news that you have lost one of your comrades," says Major John Gordon.
Members of the three grieving families were the first allowed on to the aircraft.
The soldiers, all members of the Second First Battalion, were killed instantly in a roadside bomb blast in Afghanistan five days ago.
"Today they are seeing their loved ones for the first time in several months, and so it is a very difficult time for them, so it is about having that private moment on the aircraft," says Major Gordon.
The Army paid their respects as pallbearers carried the bodies out in a sombre ramp ceremony.
Corporal Baker's casket was carried by eight female soldiers, including best friend Corporal Leanne Corbett. It was also a poignant moment for Major Gordon, who knew Cpl Tamatea .
"I knew on him on a personal level," says Major Gordon. " I knew what sort of soldier he is and I have the upmost respect for him as a person and a soldier."
The haka 'Toia Mai' rang out as they were loaded into the hearse, comrades showing their grief and support for their mates and their families.
A commemorative service is likely to be on Saturday at Burnham Military Camp before the soldiers are returned to their families for private funerals.
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23/08/2012 6:40:13 p.m.
Barbara Dobbie wrote:
I find it totally insulting to our 3 soldiers that died this week that you put a news bulliten about Pulham or whatever her name is in fron of the soldiers arriving home. She is making money out of your news bullitens and you are playing into her hands and forgetting the heart ache of those that have lost family when protecting another Country
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