23 August 2012
It was a sad day for New Zealand as Corporal Luke Tamatea, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker and Private Richard Harris arrived back home today.
New Zealand’s three fallen soldiers, who were killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) incident on 19 August in Bamyan Province, arrived into Christchurch on a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules this afternoon.
They were met by members of their families, senior military officials and representatives from New Zealand Army. A final ramp ceremony took place with bearer parties from 2nd/1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, and 2nd Health Support Battalion.
"Being able to be here today, representing our Army when these soldiers returned home is an honour," said Chief of Army, Major General (MAJGEN) Tim Keating.
"I wish that the circumstances of their return was different, however it is my privilege to stand beside the families of Corporal Tamatea, Lance Corporal Baker and Private Harris as they return to New Zealand, and honour their sacrifice with the dignity and respect they deserve.
"I pay tribute to their selfless courage and sacrifice that they have made in the name of world peace. I must also acknowledge the loyal and honourable service of our Defence Force people who are continuing to serve in Afghanistan and in other missions overseas at this time."
MAJGEN Keating also acknowledged the support provided by the Australian Defence Force in repatriating our soldiers back home.
"We have received many expressions of condolence from our partners in the international military community, and it was appreciated that US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dempsey and Commander International Security Assistance Force, General Allen, attended the ramp ceremony in Bagram."
Final arrangements are being made for a memorial service to be held at Burnham Military Camp, details are yet to be confirmed. The families are expected to hold private funeral services later next week.