Five Australian soldiers killed in two separate incidents in Afghanistan last week were returned home to their families and comrades today, at moving ceremonies at RAAF Base Richmond in Sydney and RAAF Base Amberley in Brisbane.
At RAAF Base Richmond, Lance Corporal Mervyn McDonald and Private Nathanael Galagher were received by their families and members of the Australian Army, led by Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, AC, DSC and Special Operations Commander, Major General ‘Gus’ Gilmore, DSC, AM.
An honour guard and bearer party formed by soldiers from Lance Corporal McDonald and Private Galagher’s unit, 2nd Commando Regiment, received and carried the caskets of their fallen mates from a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft to their loved ones.
Thirty-year-old Lance Corporal McDonald and 23-year-old Private Galagher were killed in a helicopter crash in Helmand Province in the early hours of 30 August 2012, while serving with the Special Operations Task Group.
At RAAF Base Amberley, three soldiers killed in an insider attack were received by their families and members of the Australian Army, led by Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, AO and Commander 7th Brigade, Brigadier Greg Bilton, CSC, ADC.
Lance Corporal Stjepan ‘Rick’ Milosevic, Sapper James Martin and Private Robert Poate were received by an honour guard and bearer party formed by members of their respective units—2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment, 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment and 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment—before their caskets were carried from a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft to their loved ones.
Lance Corporal Milosevic (40), Sapper Martin (21) and Private Poate (23) were serving with the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) Task Group on operations in Afghanistan when they were killed in an insider attack at Patrol Base Wahab in the Baluchi Valley region of Uruzgan Province on the evening of 29 August 2012.
Speaking at RAAF Base Richmond, General Hurley expressed his condolences to the families of the five fallen soldiers.
“Today we receive home five Australian soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation,” he said.
“The thoughts and prayers of the entire Defence community are with their families, friends and colleagues on this very difficult day.
“We are indebted to these men for their courage and selflessness in choosing a life of service and for the pride and honour with which they served.”
Speaking at RAAF Base Amberley, Lieutenant General David Morrison also expressed his condolences to the families.
“Today, Army mourns the loss of five fine soldiers, each of whom was outstanding in their own right,” he said.
“These men’s commitment to their chosen career as soldiers and to our mission in Afghanistan was unwavering, as was their loyalty to their mates and their love for their own families and their Army family.
“Their loss has been deeply felt across the Army and I offer my heartfelt condolences to their families, friends and colleagues.”
The following arrangements have been made for media to access stills and video, when available, after the ceremonies:
Photos from the ramp ceremony at RAAF Base Richmond will be published on the Defence Image Gallery at http://images.defence.gov.au/12130830
There will be a pool feed of video from the ramp ceremony at RAAF Base Richmond.
Photos from the ramp ceremony at RAAF Base Amberley will be available on the Defence Image Gallery at http://images.defence.gov.au/12130831.
Video from the ramp ceremony at RAAF Base Amberley will be fed from Defence digital Media to the Parliament House Press Gallery.
Defence Media Operations – 02 6127 1999