Slain soldier remembered in Auckland
Friends and family paid tribute this afternoon to a "selfless and courageous" soldier, who always found a way to make his mates laugh.
Auckland's Lance Corporal Rory Patrick Malone, 26, was killed during a fire fight in Afghanistan's Bamiyan province 10 days ago, along with fellow Lance Corporal Pralli Durrer - family members of whom were at today's funeral in Papatoetoe.
The pair were the seventh and eighth kiwi lives to be lost in the last five years in Afghanistan.
Malone and Durrer were farewelled at a military service at Christchurch's Burnham Military Camp on Saturday but today's service at Manukau Memorial Gardens chapel was a more intimate gathering to celebrate Malone's life.
His father Denis Malone said Rory was clearly suited to the military from an early age; a sporty kid who revelled in a team environment.
Malone's brothers and sisters called him "a hero" but pointed out some of the lighter moments of growing up with him.
His brother Angus talked about scaring neighbours with fireworks and the soldier's over-ambitious card tricks.
Sister Katie Smith said she still felt her brother beside her.
"You were taken far too soon but I know that's because they needed your super ninja powers up there," she said.
Todd McBriar, his brother, chose to focus on the fallen soldier's qualities of comradeship and courage.
And he said his name would live on, as McBriar's soon-to-be-born son would be given the name Rory.
Several of Malone's fellow soldier's spoke, some highlighting his wit and humour, others his intelligence and thoughtfulness.
At the close of the ceremony Malone was able to speak for himself as a military interview, from during his deployment, was played.
There was much laughter when he spoke about his keenness to get back to New Zealand to pursue his "entrepreneurial goals", something he was well known for waxing lyrical about.
Malone, while sitting alongside his partner of four years Kate Johnston - who served with him - the interviewer asked them whether there were any immediate plans upon their arrival home.
"I don't know. Have a holiday, get married or something - nothing too outrageous," Malone said, deadpan.
While he was never able to realise those dreams and his family had suffered an immense loss, fellow servicemen were keen to point out the nation had gained a hero.
McBriar summarised: "May his name live on, may his humour be remembered, may his laughter be heard and may Rory Patrick Malone live on forever."