Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Aussie soldiers bid farewell to fallen comrade

Soldiers bid emotional farewell to Jamie Larcombe
A 21-year-old Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan last week has been farewelled by his comrades at an emotional memorial in Tarin Kowt.

Sapper Jamie Ronald Larcombe was shot and killed in a Taliban ambush in Uruzgan province along with an Afghan interpreter.

The Darwin-based combat engineer was remembered by his commanding officer as a young man who epitomised the core values of an Australian soldier.

"Mateship is what defines the best in an Aussie digger and Jamie was amongst our best," Lieutenant Colonel Darren Huxley said.

"Jamie was a volunteer for his country, as we all here are. He knew the risks of his chosen profession and he accepted them. 

"He shared the danger and austerity, but mostly, I am sure, he was driven by his desire to protect and support his mates.

"Jamie Larcombe is now part of our nation's history and his name will echo in Anzac Day toasts long after all of us have gone." 

During the memorial service, Sapper Larcombe's personality and character was fondly remembered by his close friends and comrades.

Fellow combat engineer and mate Sapper Trent Wicker said "Larko" was a genuine mate who held his family and friends close.

"He was the kind of guy who was always keen to go down to the pub, have a beer with his mates, pick you up when you were feeling down," he said. 

Engineer commander Major Nick Bosio said Sapper Larcombe's genuine character would be sorely missed. 

"When he spoke to you he looked you in the eye; a quality that belongs to a truly genuine individual. That was Jamie; that was our Larko," he said.

At the conclusion of the memorial service more than 2,000 soldiers from a coalition of six nations stood side-by-side to pay their final respects to Sapper Larcombe. 

His casket was then loaded on a Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules for the first part of his final journey home.

Sapper Larcombe - who was on his first tour of Afghanistan - leaves his partner Rhiannon, parents Steven and Tricia, and three younger sisters, Ann-Marie, Emily and April.

He is the 23rd Australian soldier to be killed in Afghanistan.

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