17 February 2011
Private Kirifi Mila’s journey home has commenced.
His comrades and friends bade him farewell in a moving ceremony at Kiwi Base in Bamyan Province overnight (NZ time).
In his eulogy the Commanding Officer of NZ Defence Force personnel in Bamyan, Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Fox, said that “any death can seem a waste, but today we can take some comfort in the way Pte Mila died - on patrol, behind the gun, in the turret providing overwatch and protection for us, his mates, knowing we trusted him to have our backs in the worst situation”.
“Even though your body leaves us today, your spirit will live on with us, know that we will honour that spirit and sacrifice in the completion of our mission, know that we will continue to look after each other just as you looked after us.
“Take care mate. I know you will be well taken care of on your final journey, I give you my senior soldier to ensure that. Kia kaha, kia toa.
Pte Mila, accompanied by a Warrant Officer from the NZPRT, was then taken to Bagram Airforce Base in a Chinook helicopter.
He will remain there for a short period before traveling to Germany, on the next leg of his journey home.
The two more seriously injured soldiers at Bagram Airforce Base are continuing to receive treatment and will be moved to the US Military hospital at Landstuhl, Germany, within the next 24 hours.
The third injured soldier remains at Kiwi Base in Bamyan.
Contact Nicole Munro, Defence Communications Group, 021 569 148