Australia — Farewell to a brother in arms

Fall­en Aus­tralian engi­neer Cor­po­ral Richard Atkin­son was farewelled from Afghanistan overnight in a mov­ing memo­r­i­al ser­vice at Mul­ti-Nation­al Base Tarin Kot.
Cor­po­ral Atkin­son was remem­bered by his mates and work col­leagues, includ­ing Com­man­der Joint Task Force 633 Major-Gen­er­al Angus Camp­bell, before begin­ning the long jour­ney home to his fam­i­ly and friends in Aus­tralia.

In an emo­tion­al and stir­ring eulo­gy, Offi­cer Com­mand­ing Men­tor­ing Task Force – Two’s Com­bat Team Char­lie, Major David French, spoke of Cor­po­ral Atkinson’s cheeky nature and quick wit as well as his ded­i­ca­tion to his job and his pro­fes­sion­al­ism in always lead­ing from the front.

“Akka was nev­er hap­pi­er than when he was on the job and he was bloody good at it,” Major French said. He described the part­nered Afghan Nation­al Army and Aus­tralian foot patrol through the Tan­gi Val­ley where Cor­po­ral Atkinson’s team of engi­neers locat­ed the Impro­vised Explo­sive Device. As was his style as a leader and skilled engi­neer, Cor­po­ral Atkin­son and a fel­low Sap­per went for­ward to inspect the device.

Major French spoke on behalf of the men of Com­bat Team Char­lie who farewelled Cor­po­ral Atkin­son, described as their broth­er in arms, as an excel­lent young engi­neer, a fun­ny bloke, an awe­some friend, beloved son, broth­er and fiancé.

“So farewell Dig­ger. While we mourn and miss you here, oth­ers who have gone before you will wel­come you to the fold. Trav­el safe­ly mate, we miss you.” Cor­po­ral Atkinson’s cas­ket was then escort­ed to the RAAF C-130 air­craft through a kilo­me­ter-long hon­our guard of sol­diers and civil­ian con­trac­tors from Aus­tralia, Afghanistan, the Unit­ed States, Sin­ga­pore, Slo­va­kia and the Nether­lands.

Before the offi­cial ser­vice, the close-knit group of sol­diers from Cor­po­ral Atkinson’s home unit, the 1st Com­bat Engi­neer Reg­i­ment, spent time with their mate in a pri­vate ser­vice. The grief and sor­row was clear­ly appar­ent on the faces of these young men who each day search for, and find, Impro­vised Explo­sive Devices.

Best mate and fel­low engi­neer, Cor­po­ral David Myers, spoke of Cor­po­ral Atkinson’s pro­fes­sion­al­ism and com­mit­ment to his job and his love of his fam­i­ly.

“Words will nev­er do jus­tice to describe the kind of mate ‘Akka’ was. He would want to be remem­bered by us with a smile on our faces and laugh­ter in our hearts,” he said.

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

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