Sad military homecoming for fallen
THE body of fallen Gympie soldier, Corporal Ashley Birt, has been formally received on Australian soil.
Cpl Birt returned home, along with the bodies of his comrades, Captain Bryce Duffy and Lance Corporal Luke Gavin.
They were met by their families and colleagues in a solemn ceremony at RAAF Base Amberley.
Cpl Birt's brother Dale sat with his parents, Linda and Don, at the ceremony.
Soldiers from the 4th Field Regiment Royal Australian Artillery, 1st Topographical Survey Squadron and 2nd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment formed an honour guard and bearer party to receive and carry the three caskets from the Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft.
Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, Commander 3rd Brigade, Brigadier Stuart Smith, and Commander 6th Brigade, Brigadier David Coghlan, attended the ramp ceremony and paid tribute to the fallen.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of these fine young soldiers," Lt-Gen David Morrison said.
"The circumstances in which they died were terrible."
"They believed in the job they were doing and we must keep the faith in the job we are doing to develop the Afghan Army in order to allow for acceptable security in that country into the future.
"I offer my deepest sympathy to the families, friends and comrades of those killed or wounded."
Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, honoured the three fallen soldiers in a memorial service at Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.
"It was an honour to pay my respects to three men who have served their country with distinction and pride," Gen Hurley said.
"I am humbled by the sacrifice these soldiers have made.
"Captain Duffy, Corporal Birt and Lance Corporal Gavin shared a dedication to duty that will continue to inspire their comrades as they carry out their mission."
Mayor Ron Dyne confirmed he will miss tomorrow's council meetings, as he will be attending a military ceremony for Cpl Birt at Enoggera base, prior to next Monday's public memorial in Gympie.