Another Digger Dies

The ninth digger has died in Afghanistan.

I never know what to write when this happens but I immediately think about the families who have lost a loved one…and of course the soldier who died in our country’s service. 

Remember that its the politicians that send our young men and women to war.

We  can never really know what it is like for soldier’s families who lose a loved one. 

The closest we came to that understanding was in 1988, was when our 16 year old son was kidnapped, at gunpoint, by ten “Rascals” in Port Moresby, PNG – we thought he was dead that night – he went on to serve in Baugainville (4 months) and Timor (7 months)  during his 12 1/2 years service in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the United Nations (UN). 

Its the waiting that gets you, for the phone call that says we’ve found him – dead or alive?   Or, in the case of soldiers, sailors and air service personnel,  till the deployment termination date (ie tour of duty is over)…

ADF families all over our country dread the knock on the door and seeing a senior officer’s uniform on the porch…there is usually only one reason that happens.  Spare a thought for them tonight.

To our latest fallen Digger, rest in peace, cobber. 

To his family my deepest thanks, respect and empathy.

Lest We Forget

More here: 

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,25198720-421,00.html

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40 Responses

  1. Much respect, TB. The one thing I think that unites all of us here, is a deep respect for our frontline men & women. We may disagree (violently) with why they have been sent where they have, but the disagreements are always with the pollies – not our soldiers.

    Nothing, but nothing, proves to me the depth of a patriot’s conviction than putting one’s life on the line for our nation. And I am a pacifist.

    Let us honour their patriotism, service, and memory. Lest we forget.

  2. TB

    Thank you so much for this post. A lot of the blogocrats have connections to the armed forces – and I am sure that they are saddened by this news.

    Also, those of us who do not have direct connections, like me, we are also very saddened by this news.

    Rest in Peace.

  3. I’m saddened too, but I have to ask what the hell we are doing there in the first place (Bin Laden is an ancient, worn-out excuse)? It’s like Gallipolli and all similar places where we had no reason to be in the first place because we are not defending Australia.

    Like Vietnam this is a war that can never be won, nor a country that can ever be won over, by foreign armies.

    I can’t help but believe these are deaths in vain.

    (I have 27 years service in the RAAF and 5 in the army behind me so I’m not talking from a leftoid pacifist perspective.)

  4. “To our latest fallen Digger, rest in peace, cobber.
    To his family my deepest thanks, respect and empathy.”

    Couldn’t have put it better TB.
    N’

  5. A view below that I go along with, as I am also a “Sans Blog” of experience.. Sacrifice?

    “Can we just say “BULLSHIT! WEASEL! UNSPEAK!” to all the politicians who pompously intone the word “sacrifice” over the freshly dead bodies of Australian soldiers.

    Rudd: “His sacrifice will not be forgotten.’’

    Turnbull: “All Australians are indebted for this, the greatest of sacrifices in our name.’’

    Let’s be really clear. They didn’t “sacrifice”. Sacrifice requires an intention. Death wasn’t their intention. Their intention was to stay alive.

    To sacrifice is, roughly literally, to perform a sacred rite. There was nothing ritual about the Australian soldier being killed in Afghanistan yesterday. Nor was there anything sacred.

    Soldiers don’t “sacrifice”. They get killed, blasted, blown to pieces in an obscenity we call war. Blood splatters everywhere. Pieces of shattered bone, skull, leg, liver, brain fly around. Soldiers scream and groan in agony before they lose consciousness and leave their families without a husband or wife, father or mother, son or daughter, or friend.

    To glorify this as “sacrifice” is a willful, disingenuous and deliberate misrepresentation of the truth and an abomination in the language. It is an attempt to make death in war acceptable or even good, somehow holy and blessed instead of admitting the horror, the awful, the dreadful, truth that people who have actually been there almost invariably describe – if they have words they can even bring themselves to speak.

    Instead of being honest, the politicians go on to stitch the poor dead soldier onto the false myths of the faded, fraying, Anzac fabric. “He was a fine and courageous soldier in the great Anzac tradition,’’ Mr Rudd said.

    And when they show images on television, they show PR footage of the Aussies dashing around with their rifles and hi-tech helmets being macho. They never show pictures of their guts being sprayed everywhere.

    Then there is the other nonsense.

    At a time like this thoughts, prayers, condolences and sympathies are thick in the air like a flock of pigeons on crystal meth.

    Rudd: “On behalf of the Australian government I extend my condolences to the family of this soldier, his friends and to his loved ones.’’ The thoughts and prayers of the entire nation were with the soldier’s family at this most difficult time, he said. “I would like to convey my deepest sympathy to his loved ones,” he said.

    Mr Rudd and Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull have extended sympathies to the soldier’s family.

    Turnbull: “The thoughts and prayers of all Australians are with the soldier’s family.”

    Air Chief Marshal Houston: “On behalf of our nation and the Australian Defence Force, I convey our deepest sympathies to his loved one.”

    Our question is, when the PM sends, conveys, or “extends” his thoughts, prayers, sympathies and condolences to us, how exactly do they get here? How can we tell they have arrived? What do they look like? Do we have to unwrap them? How big are they – will they all fit in my sock drawer? If they are “deepest” sympathies, do I need a bigger drawer? When someone’s “heart goes out” to us, do we have to have a special jar to keep it in? What actually are these things? What do they mean? What actual value are they to us? How much did they cost?

    The answer to the last four questions are: nothing, nothing, fuckall and fucking nothing. Talk is cheap and mealy-mouthed words and pompous forms of words are empty and meaningless. So, for a politician, the price is right. They serve the speaker, not the supposed recipient who gets precisely nothing in fact. But at least the PM looks and sounds good and, who knows, might be a slightly better chance for re-election one day.

    And by the way, how can Houston speak on behalf of “Our Nation”? The answer is, he can’t. The nation is not defined by the military. Neither his authority nor his remit extend beyond the military. He is unelected and cannot speak for anyone except his constituency, much as he might feel moved to by the occasion”.

    From ValuesAustralia, thanks Sir R.

  6. I wish I had written that, Lang.

    The Rudd govt is living up to my pre-election belief that it’s a hollow, sleazy one: it’s only redeeming feature is that it’s not a Howard one.

    It made me feel sick hearing all that false crap coming out of the mouths of politicians today.

  7. Lang Mack, on March 17th, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Now that’s what I call a great post! I’ll say no more but I will add your contribution to my list of favourites.

    Again, congratulations.

  8. Aye! The old lie: Pro Patri Mori, Dulce et Decorum Est.
    Lest We Forget.

  9. Dirtee M, on March 17th, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Not Patri but perhaps Patria? If so then perhaps:

    “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, sed dulcius pro patria vivere, et dulcissimum pro patria bibere. Ergo, bibamus pro salute patriae”

  10. It’s always painful to hear of another death in combat. RIP.

  11. Evocative & heartfelt comment Lang Mack. So many truisms.

    N’

  12. Frankly, I think this conflict has reached a tipping point and I’ve been pretty accurate in the past. The chances of this conflict now being won militarily is extremely remote. The opportunity was there and squandered on more important targets according to the COW.

    Afghanistan more important than Iraq
    http://blogs.news.com.au/news/blogocracy/index.php/news/comments/afghanistan_more_important_than_iraq/

    Moderator: Comment edited so that it is just the link.

  13. TB

    Just imagine how differently things could have been by now if the COW didn’t divert forces to Iraq and didn’t give the Taliban the opportunity to re- infiltrate?

    Warmer weather brings hard fighting season in Afghanistan
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25199400-31477,00.html

    AUSTRALIAN commanders are bracing for a hard fighting season in Oruzgan province as Taliban insurgents fan out across southern Afghanistan.

    The latest Australian combat death in Afghanistan comes as intelligence assessments point to heightened risks for coalition forces as insurgents regroup for the spring and summer fighting season.

  14. I really didn’t expect a political thread…or discourse on the obvious futility of war…

    …while I respect others’ points of view…

    …my purpose was to respect the feelings of this Digger’s family…nothing more, nothing less…

  15. John McPhilbin, on March 18th, 2009 at 10:44 am Said:

    Apologies TB, I was just trying to point out what our forces are up against.

  16. TB when I hear of a fallen serviceman my first thoughts are with the family. Then my thoughts tend to stray to thinking of my own family, son of course currently serving in the RAN and then other family who served. One person I think of is hubby’s g/granny’s 2nd husband. A hero to start with as he married a widow with 19 children (not a typo). He was KIA WW1 somewhere in France but where is unknown. There is no record of Charles Allen on the Australian War Memorial, however the War Memorial at Rushworth proudly bears his name.

  17. To our latest fallen Digger, rest in peace, cobber.

    Amen.

  18. And another Amen. And for Adrian of Nowra, Aye to matelots.

  19. Well said TB and well said Lang Mack.

    There is no glory in war.

  20. Tony@11.20

    My words exactly.

  21. I obviously feel for the person & his family, as I would for anyone who suffered such a loss…even the “enemy”.

    My p.o.v. is very much in line with Lang’s insightful comment.
    I don’t like to be encompassed by the broad brush strokes out of the political/military mouths that seek to include me in the “Our Country” bullshit.

    I would also note that nobody in this country is pressganged into service.

  22. Very true Toiletb, all volunteers. Which compares with times past such as the conscripts for WW2 and Vietnam. My Dad was a conscript WW2 which is why he was sent to New Guinea.

  23. Good post LM, they glorify the deaths so that our young, strong and able bodied will continue to volunteer, and if they don’t, well, they’ll try to bring in conscription again.

    Instead of the mealy mouth words, how about the new widow and the children getting some cold, hard cash.

  24. Taliban commanders are bracing for a hard fighting season in Oruzgan province as NATO insurgents fan out across southern Afghanistan.

    The latest Taliban combat death in Afghanistan comes as intelligence assessments point to heightened risks for Taliban forces as Coalition insurgents regroup for the spring and summer fighting season.

    Mind your thoughts. 😉

  25. Thank you KittyL. All donations gratefully received. I am certain that most Australians would be appalled to realise how little compensation service personnel’s families receive. Compare the amount with say a person killed on the job in a civilian situation.

  26. Thanks for the link Tony.

    Yes min, I have profound sympathy for any person, regardless of nation or affiliation, who is forced into combat. In an ideal world that would never happen; this is no such world.

    I don’t mean any disrespect to those with serving family members at all, but presumably all those (in our own armed forces at least) are there by personal choice.

    As most who know my p.o.v. will be aware, I don’t much go for “patriotism”. I think it is subject to easy manipulation & abuse by our higher ups. To kill or be killed for a flag & what it is supposed to entail is a sad waste & not a good enough reason IMHO.
    Rudd/Turnbull et al’s syrupy output yesterday is a case in point. Not so different to the same sort of bilge I’d have anticipated from Howard; still, “we” as a society are conditioned to expect such displays I suppose.

    I’ve previously read TB make a very good point…something along the lines of “there’d be no war if nobody went”.

    *I take it Adrian is still absent?
    My parents went to the Avalon Airshow on the weekend & thought it spectacular. I recall Adrian saying he was thinking of going & would have liked his observations; hope he’s doing OK.

  27. “I am certain that most Australians would be appalled to realise how little compensation service personnel’s families receive.”min

    That alone should put the flowery rhetoric about sacrifice from our leaders into perspective. Surely that would be different if there was conviction in their jingobabble.

    “Mind your thoughts”Legion

    Exactly! The “enemy” ends up just as dead, & were equally as entitled to life.

  28. Toiletboss,

    We went to the air-show a few years ago. I’ll never forget my amazement when the PA announcer told us some F/A-18 Super Hornrts were leaving Amberley Air Base, en route to Melbourne. In what seemed like no time at all – maybe half an hour – their approach was announced.

    The crowd was told to look eastward. Some stirring top-gun music was played, and this group of awesome jets shocked the crowd by low-flying over us – from behind.

    (It sends shivers up my spine still, just thinking of it.)

  29. I was really into military airpower as a youngster Tony.
    I had the opportunity to go with my parents on the weekend & didn’t take it; kicking myself very hard now.

    Apparently they even had one of the new F-35’s there (although I’m suspicious of the veracity of this because ’twas mum that told me & she wouldn’t know an F-35 from a Sopwith Camel), quite something to behold. Definitely F-15’s, 16’s & other supreme US aerial killing machines…B1 Bomber etc..

    What a fkn idiot, I should have gone!

  30. i didnt want to comment on this when i was drunk.
    But it’s time this nation stood by our soldiers and brought them home.

    9 lost soldiers, sad indeed.

  31. With due respect. Although some might think of the sending of condolences as ‘flowery rhetoric’, consider the alternative. Send none? Or maybe send the family a lecture on the rights and wrongs of war.

  32. Good point min. I agree, & perhaps it does help the families…I don’t honestly know. I’m sure a lecture would be unnappreciated & unwarranted given the circumstances.

    I speak only for my self when I say that I find the words hollow. That’s not supposed to take anything away from the interpretation given those same words by those who get a positive from them.

    As I said in my first comment, I feel for the individual & his family.
    Would that it never had to happen, but it will not be the last time.

  33. Perhaps Mr Rudd could take a leaf out of George Bush’s book. Seriously.

  34. Toiletb. The words aren’t hollow.

    Just from my own experience with son being in the RAN for 7 years. They are just average Australian citizens and families. Mostly the gunna shoot ’em dead crew are weeded out via extensive psych testing. After all the last thing you want is a person who might jeopardise the team..and most of all for service personnel, it’s all about team work and relying on one’s mates. Hence the passion I think, it’s not a life experience that comes from working in an office (with due respect to office workers).

  35. Tony,thanks for putting up that link,(I am not too good at the fancy linking stuff) I was away and just got back, I sent Roger (Values Australia) an email last night on the matter. He is a passionate type on moral justice and human rights, cuts through the bullshit and won’t suffer fools gladly, always worth a visit to his site.
    ( I wish also I could have expressed that article, Sans Blog)..

  36. “Although some might think of the sending of condolences as ‘flowery rhetoric’, consider the alternative. Send none?”

    With respect, Min, you pose a false choice. It is not flowery comments or nothing. It is the truth, or deceit; reality, or avoidance. It is between a statement of personal truth (say), like a politician’s own grief and grand, public oratorical flourishes. It is between saying words that are empty and of no value to the grieving families and real help, support and compensation (if that is possible).

  37. Millii,It is between saying words that are empty and of no value to the grieving families and real help, support and compensation (if that is possible).
    That is why old men (mostly) send young men/women to their fate, then offer throw away lines as gallant, hero ,outstanding ,loved by all, sadly missed, a credit, taken before his/her time and on and on.And the best,gave his/her life for their country.
    Then reality hits with the family of the above mentioned,(hero) it comes time to attest the sender of the ‘hero’ and in an august display of implacable disinterest ,directs the grieving to a tangled obstructive arena ,where all the illusions are shattered.
    I remember Howard in his loved photo moments with departing Defence Personal,(in WA) being caught on camera with his arm around a serving personal’s young son saying “Don’t worry son, we’ll look after you”.
    Howard , who ran from a demo in Sydney (anti Vietnam) when he was on a spruke for conscription and the drum beat, and hid in a car, while serving in a gallant way in the young Liberals.
    No wonder he and Bush found such ‘attraction’ Skull and Bones, young Liberals, only location is/was the difference, mind you, we could have Bill Heffernan ,Wilson Tuckey and Steve Fielding jousting for the top job, or aren’t we that stupid?. They are elected. Makes me despair.

  38. Legion, on March 18th, 2009 at 12:21 pm Said:

    Taliban commanders are bracing for a hard fighting season in Oruzgan province as NATO insurgents fan out across southern Afghanistan.

    The latest Taliban combat death in Afghanistan comes as intelligence assessments point to heightened risks for Taliban forces as Coalition insurgents regroup for the spring and summer fighting season.

    Mind your thoughts. 😉

    Unfortunately N’ that’s the sad reality. Second digger killed this week.

    AN Australian soldier has died in Afghanistan – the second combat fatality this week.

    Chief of the Defence Force Angus Houston held a press conference at 10pm (AEDT) to announce the death.

    The solider was killed after an improvised explosive device was detonated.

    The Digger is the 10th soldier to die in Afghanistan, with the latest casualty 21-year-old Corporal Matthew Hopkins, who was killed by Taliban insurgents on Monday.

    Corporal Hopkins’s body is on its way to Australia after being farewelled by comrades in Afghanistan.

  39. Apologies for my typo.

    Nature 5, on March 17th, 2009 at 11:04 pm Said:
    Dirtee M, on March 17th, 2009 at 10:23 pm
    Not Patri but perhaps Patria? If so then perhaps:

    “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, sed dulcius pro patria vivere, et dulcissimum pro patria bibere. Ergo, bibamus pro salute patriae”

    I’m sorry there is any doubt, -I intended the irony of the WW1 poem by Wilfred Owens regarding the ‘old lie’, (“Bent double like beggars under sacks…” ) and not the glory expounded by the original author of my excerpt

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