Condolences offered for soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Last updated 12:55 20/08/2012
Corporal Luke Tamatea, 31, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, 26, and Private Richard Harris, 21.

FALLEN: Corporal Luke Tamatea, 31, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, 26, and Private Richard Harris, 21.

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Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association members are deeply saddened by the deaths of three soldiers in a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, 26, Corporal Luke Tamatea, 31, and Private Richard Harris, 21, were helping escort a fellow patrol member to a doctor when they were killed by a Taleban bomb.

Flags at RSAs will fly at half-mast over the next few days, RSA National President Don McIver said.

"We offer our condolences to their families and friends at this terrible time of loss and will support them in any way open to us," McIver said.

"We stand beside the members of the Provincial Reconstruction Team as they again face the death on operations of their comrades in arms."

"All veterans will understand the deep sense of sorrow and frustration that this tragic incident will engender in this close knit team.  These men were killed in the proud service of their country and we honour their memory."

Prime Minister John Key expressed his sorrow.

"On behalf of New Zealanders, I extend my deepest condolences to the families of the three deceased," said Key.

"This latest tragedy brings the total number of New Zealand soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan to 10.

"Today's events underscore the gravity of the situations New Zealand's soldiers face daily in Afghanistan. The three brave soldiers paid the ultimate price for their selfless work, and my thoughts are with their families and friends as they mourn their loved ones."

Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones said: "We are deeply saddened by this loss, especially given the recent incident on 4 August. On behalf of the entire New Zealand Defence Force, I extend my deepest sympathies to the families, colleagues and friends of the personnel involved."

Defence Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said the deaths would come as a deep shock to the nation.

"My immediate thoughts are with the families of these three NZDF soldiers who lost their lives, and the wider NZDF community.  It comes as a significant blow after the other casualties our Defence Force suffered on August 4th," said Coleman.

"We are still receiving details from the scene and further information will be made available at a press conference later today."

Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae, a former Defence Force chief, said he learnt of the deaths with great distress.

"While serving in warn-torn countries such as Afghanistan carries great risks, the deaths of these three soldiers, so soon after the loss of Lance Corporal Pralli Durrer and Lance Corporal Rory Patrick Malone earlier this month, is a great tragedy," he said.

"The soldiers were part of New Zealand's Provincial Reconstruction Team, which for many years has worked tirelessly to bring peace and security to the lives of the people of Bamiyan province.  Their service has brought great credit to New Zealand and the New Zealand Defence Force.

"On behalf of all New Zealanders, Janine [his wife] and I extend our deepest sympathies to family, friends and comrades of the three deceased soldiers as they deal with this tragic loss.'' 

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