Afghanistan/Australien — Fallen Australian soldiers commence final journey

Two Aus­tralian sol­diers killed in action by an impro­vised explo­sive device on Mon­day after­noon (Aus­tralian time) have been farewelled by their mates from the 1st Men­tor­ing Task Force at Mul­ti-Nation­al Base Tarin Kowt.

1st Mentoring Task Force
Padre Al Lava­ki from the 1st Men­tor­ing Task Force leads the pro­ces­sion of the cas­kets of Sap­per Moer­land and Sap­per Smith through the Mulit-Nation­al Base in Tarin Kowt.
Source: Aus­tralian Depart­ment of Defence
Click to enlarge

The mov­ing ser­vice to hon­our the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice made by Sap­pers Jacob Moer­land and Dar­ren Smith was attend­ed by all avail­able Aus­tralian per­son­nel and large con­tin­gents of per­son­nel rep­re­sent­ing oth­er nations work­ing from the base.

Com­mand­ing Offi­cer of the 1st Men­tor­ing Task Force Lieu­tenant Colonel Jason Blain said the two fall­en Sap­pers were excep­tion­al sol­diers who showed absolute courage, ded­i­ca­tion and com­mit­ment to their jobs.

“Dar­ren and Jacob rep­re­sent the very best of our mil­i­tary and our nation,” Lieu­tenant Colonel Blain said.

“Our soci­ety speaks far too freely about heroes—we know the real heroes are the men we mourn here today.

“Men who day in and day out put them­selves in harm’s way and nev­er let their mates down—they are tes­ta­ment to what it means to put ser­vice before self.”

Lieu­tenant Colonel Blain said the Task Force must not let the sac­ri­fices of Sap­pers Moer­land and Smith be in vain.

“We must con­tin­ue with this dif­fi­cult and wor­thy mis­sion here in Afghanistan,” Lieu­tenant Colonel Blain said.

“There is no more wor­thy cause for a sol­dier than bring­ing peace and hope to a peo­ple that know only war and suf­fer­ing.

“We must promise not to let their sac­ri­fice be for nothing—we will con­tin­ue our mis­sion now with even more pur­pose and more resolve.”

Lieu­tenant Colonel Blain also spoke of the impact on the fam­i­lies of the two young sol­diers describ­ing their grief as extreme as the impact of the loss of their loved ones tru­ly hits home.

“We sim­ply can­not begin to imag­ine the grief they are expe­ri­enc­ing and our thoughts are with them con­stant­ly,” he said.

Fol­low­ing the ser­vice, the Aus­tralian flag-draped cas­kets of the two fall­en sol­diers were moved through an hon­our guard of Aus­tralian, Afghan and ISAF troops before being placed in an Aus­tralian C130J Her­cules to com­mence their jour­ney home.

The cas­kets of Sap­pers Moer­land and Smith were flown to the Head­quar­ters of Joint Task Force 633 in Al Min­had Air Base in the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates, where anoth­er hon­our guard wait­ed to receive their fall­en com­rades.

The dig­ni­fied cer­e­mo­ny was observed by the Min­is­ter for Defence, Sen­a­tor John Faulkn­er, the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Mar­shal Angus Hous­ton, and the Sec­re­tary of the Depart­ment of Defence, Dr Ian Watt, who had divert­ed from their planned itin­er­ary to pay their respects.

Com­man­der Joint Task Force 633 Major Gen­er­al John Cantwell said the oppor­tu­ni­ty for all mem­bers of his force to take time to remem­ber the sac­ri­fices of Sap­pers Moer­land and Smith was espe­cial­ly impor­tant.

Australian C-130 Hercules
A final salute for the fall­en as the cas­ket bear­ers car­ry the fall­en Sap­pers Dar­ren Smith and Jacob Moer­land from the Aus­tralian C-130 Her­cules at the Aus­tralian Sup­port Base in the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates.
Source: Aus­tralian Depart­ment of Defence
Click to enlarge

“The death of an Aus­tralian ser­vice­man on oper­a­tions affects every­one – to have two out­stand­ing Dig­gers killed in a sin­gle event is espe­cial­ly trag­ic,” Major Gen­er­al Cantwell said.

“All of us will mourn their deaths, but our hearts espe­cial­ly go out to Jacob and Darren’s fam­i­lies and loved ones at home.

“As fall­en com­rades Jacob and Dar­ren will have a cease­less vig­il at their sides, until they are returned home.”

He said engi­neers in par­tic­u­lar have one of the tough­est jobs in Afghanistan, putting their lives on the line every sec­ond of every patrol to keep their mates safe.

“Jacob and Dar­ren were the epit­o­me of the engi­neer mot­to ‘fol­low the sap­per’,” Major Gen­er­al Cantwell said.

“They died as they lived, putting their own lives at risk to ensure the safe­ty of their fel­low sol­diers.

“They tru­ly are heroes who have paid the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice in ser­vice not only to their Nation, but also to those with them on that fate­ful patrol.”

The bod­ies of Sap­pers Moer­land and Smith will con­tin­ue their jour­ney home to Aus­tralia in the com­ing days.

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia