Three fallen Australian Soldiers return home
1 November 2011
Australian Defence Force, Coalition and Afghan personnel have paid their respects to their fallen comrades in a moving memorial service at Multi National Base - Tarin Kot on Tuesday morning (Afghan time).
The three soldiers, Captain Bryce Duffy, 26, Corporal Ashley Birt, 22, and Lance Corporal Luke Gavin, 29, were tragically killed on Saturday (29 October, 2011) when a rogue Afghan soldier turned upon them and opened fire immediately following a parade.
The Commander of Australian Defence Force personnel deployed to the Middle East, Major General Angus Campbell said the Army had lost three courageous and brave soldiers who had served with distinction.
“Captain Duffy, Corporal Birt and Lance Corporal Gavin were held in high regard by their mates and their commanders and their loss has deeply affected all Australian and coalition personnel serving in Afghanistan and the Middle East.” Major General Campbell said.
“In true ANZAC spirit they gave their all because they believed they were making a difference for the people of Afghanistan – their sacrifice will inspire us as we go about our crucial mission here in Afghanistan.”
Australian commanders in Tarin Kot reflected on the qualities of the soldiers during their eulogies at the memorial service.
Deputy Commander CT-U, Colonel Dave Smith remembered Corporal Ashley Birt as a popular soldier who was highly regarded by his peers.
“He was a well respected member of CT-U headquarters and an outstanding soldier who was everything we want in a junior non-commissioned officer,” Colonel Smith said.
The Commanding Officer of MTF-3, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Smith described Captain Bryce Duffy as a reserved bloke with a sharp wit.
“He was a talented and dedicated young officer. This was his second tour of Afghanistan, having served with the first Mentoring Task Force,” Lieutenant Colonel Smith said.
“His comrade, Lance Corporal Luke Gavin, was also a fine and courageous soldier who was dedicated to the task of mentoring the soldiers of the Afghan National Army.
“Luke was a loving husband and father who had an infectious laugh and loved a joke. He leaves behind his wife Jackie and his three lovely kids; Joshua, Holly and Olivia.”
Major General Campbell also acknowledged the seven Australian soldiers wounded and the Afghan casualties from the same shooting incident.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Australian, Afghan and Coalition personnel lined the road from the Memorial Service to an awaiting RAAF C-130 Hercules, saluting as the three Australian flag-draped caskets moved through their ranks.
The procession signalled the final departure from Afghanistan for the fallen soldiers and the commencement of their journey home to Australia.
Colonel Smith said the men had lost their lives in the service of their nation and they would never be forgotten.
“The best way we can honour their sacrifice is to re-double our efforts, because that is what they deserve,” Colonel Smith said.
Imagery of the ramp ceremony is available via:
Vision will be fed to Parliament house: http://video.defence.gov.au/
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