NZSAS trooper LCPL Leon Smith arrives home: Ramp ceremony
4 October 2011
LCPL Leon Smith, the SAS soldier killed in Afghanistan on 28 September, has left his unit and passed into the care of allies and colleagues for his return home.
Trooper Smith’s SAS mates farewelled him from Afghanistan with a fierce haka,
"Ko wai matou e, We are the pilgrims master we shall go always a little further."
An Australian Defence Force C 17 transport aircraft carried LCPL Smith from Afghanistan to an undisclosed location before being transferred to a flight back to New Zealand.
Australian Chief of Defence Force General David Hurley joined NZ, UK, US and Australian troops to salute this fallen soldier at the ramp ceremony.
"I am grateful for the assistance and care provided to LCPL Smith by the Australian CDF and Australian Defence Force as I know they have had to face the loss of their own in Afghanistan.
"I have also expressed my thanks to others who have helped speed Trooper Smith’s return to his family.
"My thoughts and those of the whole NZDF, and indeed all of New Zealand, are with his family as they face their loss," says Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Rhys Jones.
The family funeral to be held later this week will be private, however, the NZSAS will be opening their service at Papakura camp to some media on Thursday.
No cameras will be allowed as all imagery will be supplied by the NZDF, however, audio recording will be allowed although live streaming will not.
Media will be allowed into the service without cameras and cell phones and are asked not to release any photos or names of present or previous NZSAS personnel.
LCPL Smith was killed while securing a compound during a joint Afghan Crisis Response Unit/NZSAS operation last week.
Media wishing to attend must register with Chris Wright and be outside Papakura Camp no later than 1.15 pm Thursday.
Media wanting moving video footage should supply their ftp addresses so imagery can be uploaded.
CONTACT: Chris Wright 021 487 980