NZDF

New Zealand’s fallen soldiers farewelled from Afghanistan

22 August 2012

Bearer party carry their comrades onto the aircraft for the return journey home.

New Zealand’s fallen soldiers were farewelled from Afghanistan by their comrades yesterday with their Commanding Officer saying those killed epitomised the best of the NZ Defence Force’s values.

Members of the NZ Provincial Reconstruction Team (NZPRT) attended the ramp ceremony for Corporal (CPL) Luke Tamatea, Lance Corporal (LCPL) Jacinda Baker and Private (PTE) Richard Harris at Bagram Air Base.

They were joined by Coalition allies including US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey, Commander International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), General John R. Allen and Deputy Commanding General, US Forces - Afghanistan, Lieutenant General James L. Terry.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules, with escorts from 2nd/1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, and 2nd Health Support Battalion, will meet an Australian Defence Force A-340 in Australia, and will bring CPL Tamatea, LCPL Baker and PTE Harris home to New Zealand.

A final ramp ceremony will be held in Christchurch tomorrow (Thursday). [Timings are still to be advised as they may be subject to change.]

Senior Military Advisor to the NZPRT, Lieutenant Colonel Pete Hall released the following statement:

"Luke, Jacinda and Richard epitomised the values that we hold dearest and always hope we can live up to - those of courage, commitment, comradeship and integrity.

"They were killed whilst undertaking a righteous and honourable endeavour assisting the people of Afghanistan to build a better place for the future – commitment;

"They deployed to a country in turmoil knowing that their lives would be at risk, but still they came – courage;

"They survived the Battle of Baghak where they fought honourably and bravely alongside their mates, tended the wounds of those that required care and arranged for their safe evacuation – comradeship;

"They set the example for our Afghan partners on how to perform their duties in a professional and honest way and by their example helped to develop their skills – integrity.

"Luke, Jacinda and Richard’s lives were cut short by a cowardly act (I take some solace in the fact that they died instantly with no pain).

They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them
Nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.

"They are forever in our hearts. They will never be forgotten.

"I think of their families everyday, I am heartbroken for their loss and can offer little comfort other than to assure them that in honour of their memory, we the members of CRIB 20 will complete our task applying the values that Luke, Jacinda and Richard lived by.

"I am a better man for having known them.   

"Prepare the way my brothers and sister in arms for the rest of us to follow, like those of us that remain behind, you will always be part of CRIB 20, and we will surely meet again."

ENDS

Media please note: higher res versions of the photographs are available on request – phone 021 487 980.

This page was last reviewed on 22 August 2012, and is current.