From: Defence Media Centre
Sent: Sun 3/11/2013 7:09 PM

Families of Australia’s fallen pay their respects in Afghanistan

The Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley has led an emotional visit to Afghanistan with the families of Australia’s fallen soldiers. The families travelled to the Multi-National Base in Tarin Kot on Saturday 2 November where they attended a moving ceremony to honour the men they loved.

General Hurley said the journey was about helping the families to heal by giving them an opportunity to experience and understand the country where their loved ones lost their lives.

“This has been a deeply moving experience for everyone involved, especially the families of our fallen.

“They are the ones who bear the true cost of war, yet despite their grief they are able to find comfort in what their fathers, partners, sons and brothers achieved in their service to our nation,” General Hurley said.

Family members laid poppies at the memorial inside Camp Holland and met with Australian troops as they got a glimpse of life on deployment.

Peter Diddams, whose son, Blaine was killed in 2012 during an engagement with insurgents said it was a surreal experience.

“Because it actually conforms with photographs and with Google Earth, that I’ve looked at, and books that I have read but it’s still an amazing experience to walk out the back of the C-17 and see the mountains around, the dust and the blast walls, the vehicles and the bunkers,” he said.

Kim Duffy, father of Captain Bryce Duffy who was killed by small arms fire during an insider attack in 2011 said the families were grateful for the opportunity to visit.

“I think that for all families, certainly from what I have heard, this is a big closure event for us. Nothing will ever remove the pain and the loss, but just being here is a huge closure chapter, I think for everybody.”

“This is the most important visit I will ever make as Chief of the Defence Force,” General Hurley said.

“I cannot help but admire the courage and strength of these families – it has been a tremendous privilege to make this journey with them.”

Media note:

Imagery of the event is available at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20131950

A video compile will be fed from Defence to television networks via the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

Details of Australia’s fallen soldiers is available at http://www.defence.gov.au/vale/

Further information about Australia’s military contribution to Afghanistan under Operation SLIPPER is available at

http://www.defence.gov.au/operations/afghanistan/home.asp

Media contact:

Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999