Mega effort by comrades
Comrades of Canterbury-based soldiers killed in action have muscled-up for a trust raising funds for their families.
More than 140 Burnham soldiers, most from the same unit as five Kiwi soldiers who died in separate attacks in Afghanistan in August, volunteered their time yesterday and spent six hours shifting stock at Hornby's Mitre 10 Mega department store.
The payoff was a $12,000 donation to the newly-established Fallen Heroes Trust, which was set up last month in response to the spate of casualties in action this year.
Its aim was to help the affected family members, especially children, of those who had served since the first East Timor deployment in 1999. Lance Corporal Culliford, who did not want to give his first name, said the knew fallen soldiers Rory Malone and Luke Tamatea and felt the Fallen Heroes Trust was "an incredibly worthy cause".
"It's been a pretty emotional time and people deal with it in their different ways . . . I went to the funerals and I know that the trust will help their families," he said.
Private Royce Flynn said he decided to help out because he "wanted to pay it back".
"There's a big impact whenever there's a casualty and the trust is about helping their families which is great so we have to do whatever we can."
Trustees include Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority operations deputy general manager Baden Ewart, a Vietnam veteran who served more than 30 years in the army, and New Zealand's first resident ambassador in Afghanistan, retired brigadier Neville Reilly.
Ewart, who is the colonel of the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, said yesterday's event was "good for everyone".
"Mitre 10 Mega needed some help moving into their new building, it's good for the soldiers to help out in a practical way too and obviously, for the trust, this is a terrific donation."
Ewart said support for families was available through ACC and Veterans' Affairs New Zealand, but gaps existed.
The aim was to create an enduring trust and fundraising opportunities had been sought, Ewart said. Max Tamatea, Luke Tamatea's uncle, had offered to arrange a sponsored walk, while a Waiouru-based soldier was planning a sponsored adventure activity. The Mitre 10 donation was the single largest so far.