5 April 2012
Corporal (CPL) Douglas Hughes will begin his journey home later today, escorted by two of his comrades from the NZ Provincial Reconstruction Team (NZPRT).
He will be farewelled by his comrades at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan and will travel by Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules to meet up with a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft.
CPL Hughes will then be met in Australia by a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules for the last leg of his journey home to New Zealand.
He is expected to arrive back in Auckland on Saturday 7 April (subject to aircraft flight schedules), and will be met by his whānau, the Chief of Defence Force, senior military officials, and members of his Battalion.
His Commanding Officer in Afghanistan, Lieutenant Colonel Brett Wellington, paid tribute to CPL Hughes.
“Dougie was a diligent, motivated and conscientious soldier. He maintained a tireless work ethic throughout his deployment and was dedicated to achieving high standards and performance.
“His personal example, positive attitude and diligent mentoring of younger soldiers assisted with the attainment of notable successes in his patrol. He was committed to achieving the mission, and he was committed to the local people of Afghanistan and Bamyan.
“CPL Hughes learnt Dari, the local language, and was able to speak it fluently. This proved to be invaluable within his patrol and the contingent. His significant empathy and desire to improve the situation for the people of Bamyan displayed his caring nature. He genuinely wanted to make a difference.
“His demonstration of good leadership, sound personal example and a commitment to succeed made CPL Hughes a great representative of the contingent and NZPRT.
“The NZ Defence Force can be proud of the contribution he made. Corporal Hughes made a difference.”
The family have asked for privacy at this time. Media will not be invited to attend the repatriation of CPL Hughes.
A further media release will be issued once CPL Hughes arrives back in New Zealand. His funeral details are currently being arranged and will be advised at a later stage.