Australian, Afghan and ISAF personnel have paid their final respects at the Multi-National Base Tarin Kowt to Privates Tim Aplin, Ben Chuck and Scott Palmer of the 2nd Commando Regiment following a moving memorial service at the base.
A sombre procession of three Australian Flag-draped caskets topped by distinctive Sherwood Green Commando Berets yesterday marked the final departure from Afghanistan of three Special Operations Task Group soldiers who were killed in a helicopter incident earlier this week.
Commander Joint Task Force 633 Major General John Cantwell said the soldier’s deaths were a shocking tragedy that had deeply affected the Special Operations Task Group and all Australian personnel serving in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
“Tim, Ben and Scott were consummate professionals – highly experienced and extremely well regarded by their team and Task Group mates,” Major General Cantwell said.
“Their deaths have hit us all hard but we must remember that they died doing exactly what they wanted to be doing – embarking on a mission into a known insurgent area fully prepared to risk their own lives to support their team mates and the Afghan people.”
Major General Cantwell said the soldiers of the Special Operations Task Group had rallied around one another over the past few days as they came to terms with the deaths of the three Commandos and the wounding of seven of their team mates in the incident.
“We have been able to give the three soldiers a true warrior’s farewell in the finest traditions of our Defence Force and that closes an important chapter in the lives of Tim, Ben and Scott. Our focus is now on ensuring that their families are assisted in everyway possible to come to terms with what must be unbelievable grief,” Major General Cantwell said. “We’re also ensuring that the others on the helicopter who are currently fighting their own battles against extremely serious wounds are fully supported in everyway possible.” Major General Cantwell offered his condolences to the Commander and soldiers of the ISAF helicopter Task Force who lost one of their own in the incident.
The three caskets were loaded onto a Royal Australian Air Force C130J at the conclusion of the procession and after a final goodbye from close friends and the Commander of the Special Operations Task Group.The fallen soldiers were taken to the major Australian Support Area at Al Minhad Air Base in the UAE and remained under the watchful guard of fellow Australian soldiers through the night.
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,