Corporal Richard Atkinson farewelled
14 February 2011
Family, friends and fellow diggers gathered today in Launceston to honour the life of Corporal Richard Atkinson, killed in action in Afghanistan on 2 February 2011.
Richard was remembered by family and friends as an energetic and talented young man whose impact on their lives will be cherished forever.
An honour guard and bearer party were formed by Richard’s mates from the 1st Combat Engineer Regiment to carry his service medals, slouch hat and an Australian National Flag into St John’s Anglican Church.
A catafalque party stood vigil over the accoutrements during the service and they were presented to Richard’s family by his Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Matt Pearse.
Brigadier Gus McLachlan, Commander of the Army’s 1st Brigade, delivered the eulogy on behalf of the Army, and described Richard, 22, as a soldier who led with maturity beyond his years.
“He knew the dangers he faced but he went and faced those dangers along side his mates and as a leader of his team,” Brigadier McLachlan said.
“Whenever the scouts sensed the terrain was pushing them onto a predictable path, Akka, often with his mate and search partner, Sapper Rose, moved to the front. They knew this was marching towards the danger. They trusted each other implicitly, knowing the other would always cover their back.
“Corporal Richard Atkinson died while leading from the front, fighting along side one of his best mates on behalf of all of us. Through the strength and example of young men like Corporal Richard Atkinson, we have proof our future is in good hands.”
The memorial service was attended by the Governor of Tasmania, the Hon Peter Underwood; the Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard, MP; the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Tony Abbott MP; Minister for Defence, the Hon Stephen Smith, MP; Senator David Johnston, Shadow Defence Spokesperson, the Premier of Tasmania, the Hon Lara Giddings MP; the Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston; Secretary of the Department of Defence, Dr Ian Watt; the Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie; and Commander 1st Brigade, Brigadier Gus McLachlan.
Richard was killed while locating an improvised explosive device in theTangi Valley in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan Province.
He was awarded the Australian Active Service Medal with Clasp: International Coalition Against Terrorism (ICAT), Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Army Combat Badge, the Australian Defence Medal, and the NATO Medal with ISAF Clasp.
Richard also served in Indonesiaon Operation Padang Assist, a disaster relief mission.
Richard’s remains will be cremated.
Still imagery is available from t: http://images.defence.gov.au/fotoweb/Grid.fwx?archiveId=5000&search=20111864.