Identities of slain soldiers released

NZ Defence Force August 20, 2012, 11:54 am

The New Zealand Defence Force has named the three soldiers killed during an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) incident in the North East of Bamyan Province, Afghanistan on Sunday 19 August.

They are Corporal (CPL) Luke Tamatea, aged 31, Lance Corporal (LCPL) Jacinda Baker, aged 26, and Private (PTE) Richard Harris, aged 21.

They deployed with the NZ Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan, Afghanistan in April 2012. All three were from 2nd/1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (2/1 RNZIR) based in Burnham.

CPL Luke Douglas Tamatea joined the NZ Army in February 2000 and was posted to 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (1 RNZIR) in Linton. He deployed to Timor-Leste in 2001, to Solomon Islands in 2003 and to Sumatra to help with the Tsunami in 2005.

CPL Tamatea had also previously deployed to Afghanistan in 2007. He was posted to 2/1 RNZIR in 2007. CPL Tamatea was promoted to LCPL in September 2005 and to CPL in June 2008.

LCPL Jacinda Francis Elyse Baker joined the NZ Army as a medic and was posted to Burnham Regional Support Company in April 2007. LCPL Baker was posted to 2/1 RNZIR in December 2007, and deployed to Solomon Islands in 2010.

LCPL Baker received a Chief of Army Commendation in 2011 for her professionalism and courage during Exercise Southern Warrior in June 2008. LCPL Baker was promoted to LCPL in July 2008.

PTE Richard Lee Harris joined the NZ Army in February 2009 and was posted to 2/1 RNZIR. PTE Harris had previously deployed to Timor-Leste in 2009/2010.

Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones says, “Ours is a dangerous profession, and while we accept these risks the death of colleagues and friends is always difficult to take, particularly coming so close following the 4 August incident where we lost two soldiers.

"On behalf of the entire New Zealand Defence Force, I again extend my deepest sympathies to the families, colleagues and friends of the personnel involved. We are deeply saddened by this loss.

"The Defence Force is working to return our fallen soldiers to their families as quickly as possible. We are also providing support to the families of the personnel involved, as well as support to families with loved ones currently serving in Afghanistan, and to our Units and personnel back in New Zealand."

Lieutenant General Jones adds that the NZ Defence Force remains committed to ensuring a smooth and measured handover of responsibility to Afghan authorities.

"New Zealand should be proud of our contribution in Bamyan, and so too the families of those who have been killed in the service of New Zealand in Afghanistan. Their sacrifice has not been in vain.

"As a result of the security that the Provincial Reconstruction Team provides significant progress has been made and is clearly visible in the classrooms built; the wells and village water supplies hooked up; the roads that have been paved; the bridges and flood protection constructed; and in the hospitals refurbished."

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