Sombre farewell for 3 fallen soldiers
Sat, 25 Aug 2012 8:28a.m.
It was an emotional farewell today at the Burnham Military camp, as tributes were paid to the three soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
The Prime Minister was one of around 100 people paying their respects to the three soldiers killed in Afghanistan last week.
Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, Corporal Luke Tamatea and Private Richard Harris died when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb on Sunday.
Their bodies arrived at Christchurch airport in a Hercules on Thursday, when soldiers, chaplains and family paid their respects privately.
Soldiers performed a haka as their caskets were carried to hearses.
Their commanding officer, Stephen Mitchie, says they had their own special traits.
“I remember it wasn’t hard to get Jacinda to blush. Rich was a great footy player. Tama, I think one of the first things he ever did was give me his opinion on almost everyone around the place – probably including me too.”
Prime Minister John Key was criticised for not attending the last military funeral a fortnight ago for Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone.
But his presence today was welcomed by Mr Mitchie.
“For the battalion we really focused on the families, but we really welcome having the Prime Minister here because I think we, as members of the army, serve the Government. We really appreciate the Government representatives, the people that make the key decisions that govern our operations, being here.”
Today's service is the second military funeral in as many weeks. The soldiers are now being returned to their families for private funeral services after today’s memorial service.
Those killed on Sunday were part of the 140-strong New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Bamyan province.
Two weeks earlier two other PRT members Lance Corporals Rory Malone and Pralli Durrer, both 26, were killed in a firefight in the same northeast area of the province.
One of the soldiers caused an unexpected bomb scare at Christchurch Hospital on Friday when live ammunition was found on them.
The items were subsequently made safe by explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) staff. The Defence Force will be investigating.
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25/08/2012 10:59:54 a.m.
Rest easy my brothers and sister. You are missed greatly. Your deaths will not be in vain. We are proud of your contributions to NZ's freedom. Many blessings to your loved ones, friends, colleagues in this heartbreaking time. You have fought a good fight by helping those in the most desperate of need. It will never be forgotten. Although we can not be there in Burnham today, we will be holding a moments quiet in your memories. Rest easy now, keep our soldiers who are in harms way as safe as possible. You are now Guardians, and only the brave and the good become Guardians. love from us xx
25/08/2012 9:27:12 a.m.
Nicki Fairbairn wrote:
My thoughts are with you all today Burnham Militry Camp - Kia kaha all whanau, friends and service personal. RIP our three brave soldiers. ONWARDS 2/1.
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