Saturday, August 7, 2010

NZ soldier dies in Afghanistan.

Soldiers fight wars and die ! I have faniliy who died in the first World War, the Second World War, and I spent two years in the Vietnam War, and saw many New Zealanders maimed or killed. When Mothers send their children off to war, they know there is a chance of their son's body returning in a casket.

So why do we make heroes out of people fighting unwinnable wars ?  NZ now realises we should never have been in Vietnam. And why on earth are we fighting in Afghanistan. And, to confuse matters further, we are putting arm carrying soldiers out to do humanitarian work. This only serves to put the true humanitarian workers at risk, and the soldiers themselves at greater risk.

My condolences go out to the family. but I ask the Government, and the soldiuer's Mothers, why do you send you sons to a war that will never have an end ?

I have a strong viewpoint on the blurring of lines and roles between soldiers and aid workers. Have a look at the story:

I post an article on the death in Afgfhanistan..

A hearse carrying the body of the first New Zealand soldier killed in Afghanistan has left Whenuapai air base.

And two wounded soldiers evacuated from Afghanistan have been taken by ambulance to hospital after a brief meeting with family on the tarmac.

A New Zealand Defence Force Boeing 757 landed at Whenuapai today after flying out of Dubai yesterday carrying the body of Lt Timothy O'Donnell, 28, of Feilding, and injured soldiers Lance Corporal Matthew Ball, 24, and Private Allister Baker, 23.

Family of Ball and Baker were allowed on the plane to meet the wounded men.

Ambulance staff then went on board and the pair were taken off on stretchers. Each was then placed in their own ambulance and their respective families were given another opportunity to speak with them before the ambulances left for hospital.

The plane then went to a far end of Whenuapai to a hanger where Lt O'Donnell's family, army comrades and top army brass waited including Major General Rhys Jones and joint forces commander Air Vice Marshall Peter Stockwell.

"The ceremony that we held was the formal bringing out of the aircraft of Tim O'Donnell's body," Army Chief Major General Rhys Jones told media.

"When it was removed from the aircraft the family was given time by themselves to connect with him and from there it was moved on to the hearse."

Lt O'Donnell's body has now gone to the Auckland Coroner for a formal autopsy.

He will then return to Whenuapai and be flown to Ohakea tomorrow for a formal ceremony by the army.

Major General Jones added that Allister and Matthew were in good spirits.

"They'd rested well, they'd been treated very well by the medical staff coming back," he said.

"They were quite upbeat, they were certainly looking forward to meeting their families again and were very thankful for the support they've been given right through.

"Their children were quite amused at the beards they'd grown, Willie Apiata style. They were very happy to have them back, they were very pleased at the condition they were in."

Maj Gen Jones said the injuries to LCpl Ball and Pte Baker were reasonably serious and it would take them time to recover.

"They will have a medical assessment tonight. They will spend one, perhaps two nights in hospital for that assessment.

"They will then be able to go home, where they can reconnect with their families far more effectively than being in the hospital.

"In the longer term, rehabilitation is their priority, so however long it takes for their physical and their mental state to be approved ... they will come back into military service."

It was likely they would attend Lt O'Donnell's funeral, a full army funeral which will be held at Linton Army Camp on Wednesday, he said.

"It's what Tim would have liked. Tim was very much an army person from his early age," Maj Gen Jones said.

"His family were very much keen to have the military being an equal part of his funeral. They have said they want to have one service as it's a tough occasion for them."

Ad Feedback Lt O'Donnell was killed in action and his two comrades and a local interpreter were injured after their patrol was ambushed while on patrol in Bamiyan Province on Wednesday.

All four were in the leading Humvee vehicle of the patrol, destroyed by an improvised explosive device (IED).

Lt O'Donnell was killed in the initial blast, and officers were reasonably certain he did not suffer, Commander Joint Forces Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell said.

LCpl Ball suffered burns and cuts to his limbs, while Pte Baker had a broken foot and burns to his left arm.

Colleagues of the trio were travelling behind in a military-equipped Toyota Hilux which was immobilised by the explosion, and a group of insurgents soon after attacked the convoy with small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

The soldiers later destroyed this vehicle to stop it from getting into enemy hands.

''We don't know where the bomb was, how it was activated or what strength it was,'' Stockwell said.

There was no clear evidence of whether the insurgents were Taliban or criminals.

Four days after the deadly attack, the search for answers continues.

A team of soldiers is carrying out a site investigation, trying to find answers on just who was responsible for the attack.

''It's a painstaking process that they conduct initially and of course they have to be mindful of the security environment they're in given the nature of the situation up to the northeast of Bamiyan,'' Vice-Marshal Stockwell said.

He added LCpl Ball and Pte Baker were ''probably pretty lucky given the nature of that explosion''.

IEDs have reportedly accounted for around 800 of the roughly 1100 United States combat deaths in Afghanistan and have wreaked havoc with Humvees, such as the one in which Lt O'Donnell died.

But using more heavily armoured vehicles was a balance due to the poor roads in which troops operated, as cumbersome heavily armoured vehicles could be dangerous in such terrain, Stockwell said.

''Right now, we think that the armoured Humvee is the right vehicle, given the state of the roads where we're trying to operate, and the nature of the threat.''

Lt O'Donnell was farewelled in a simple but sombre and poignant ceremony in Bamiyan yesterday, where red poppies were worn in his honour. Prime Minister John Key also stated an independent court of inquiry would be held into Lt O'Donnell's death, covering areas such as military tactics, procedures and equipment.

''We also have a lot of people stationed in Bamiyan and want to make sure they are being afforded all the protection that we would expect them to be,'' Key said.

Losing a New Zealand soldier in combat was a serious issue and an inquiry was needed, Mr Key told reporters at the Pacific Island Forum in Vanuatu yesterday.

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has 106 personnel serving with the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Bamiyan. The 16th rotation arrived in April and will remain in there for about six months.