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Australian soldier killed in Taliban firefight
25 August 2010

Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie, Minister for Defence, Senator John Faulkner and Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston announce the death of the 21st Australian soldier killed in action in Afghanistan.
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Operation home - Afghanistan

A 28-year-old Lance Corporal serving with the Mentoring Task Force in Afghanistan has been killed in action following an intense firefight with Taliban insurgents.

The incident occurred yesterday morning Afghanistan time (the afternoon of Tuesday August 24). Family of the soldier have been advised however his name will not be released at this time. The soldier leaves behind a wife and young family.

This brings the number of Australians killed in Afghanistan since operations began in 2001 to 21, 10 of which have happened this year.

The soldier, a member of the 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment, was conducting a dismounted partner patrol with the Afghan National Army in the green zone of the Deh Rawud region when the engagement took place.

Unfortunately, the immediate first aid provided by the soldier's mates was not enough to save him. He was an experienced soldier on his fourth operational deployment and his second tour of Afghanistan.

"He was a much-loved young man whose death is going to leave a terrible, terrible gap in the lives of those around him," Defence Minister Senator John Faulkner said. 

The patrol remained in contact with the Taliban insurgents for almost three hours before withdrawing from the area. An International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) AH-64 Apache helicopter used its 30mm cannon while additional help was called from a precision-guided weapon to provide support during the engagement.

No other Australian or Afghan soldiers were wounded in the firefight.

The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, said the deepest sympathies and prayers of the Defence community were with the soldier's family.

"Their loved one was lost in the service of our nation, and we will bring him home and lay him to rest with dignity and respect. And we will help this family as they grieve," he said.

"This past month has been a trying time for the soldiers of the Mentoring Task Force. As they farewelled their colleagues - Privates Grant Kirby and Tomas Dale from Tarin Kot yesterday, news of the death of this soldier was coming through.

"All operational deaths are tragic events and impact on our soldiers. But they have a mission and will press on, in honour of their fallen mates and in the knowledge that their contribution was for a worthy cause.

"This soldier was providing valuable mentoring and training to soldiers of the Afghan National Army's 4th Brigade when the incident occurred. He was making a real contribution to the capability of the Afghan soldiers as well as providing security and protection for the Afghan people," said Air Chief Marshal Houston.