Afghanistan/Australien — Three fallen Commandos begin journey home

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.

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