Digger farwelled from Afghanistan

AUSTRALIAN Army Combat Engineer and ex Kingscliff High School student, Sapper Rowan Robinson, was farewelled from Afghanistan on Thursday by his comrades in a moving memorial service and ramp ceremony at the Multi National Base, Tarin Kot, Afghanistan.

The 23 year old was killed in action on Monday during a partnered Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) and Afghan National Police (ANP) mission.

In his eulogy, the Commanding Officer of the SOTG described Sapper Robinson as a young, dedicated soldier who was born for the profession of arms.

"Rowan was highly motivated and had every desire to continue to serve his country for many years," he said.

"Whether it was clearing a path potentially littered with IEDs (improvised explosive devices), fighting for his mates or providing over-watch, no task was too great and no request for help was ever unanswered," CO SOTG said.

"Everything he turned his hand to produced outstanding results. Without fail he jumped at the challenge of leading our operators to their objective, risking his life so that others may live."

Rowan was remembered during a ceremony within the SOTG compound, surrounded by his colleagues from the Incident Response Regiment (IRR), the 2nd Commando Regiment, the Special Air Service Regiment and representatives from ISAF and Afghan National Security Force units.

Former Kingscliff High School teacher, John Waide said Rowan’s friends were "shattered" by the news of his death and current vice-principal, Stuart Cutcher said he was "extremely well liked by students and teachers alike."

"He was a truly lovely boy," Mr Waide said.

"He was too young to die, but no war is a safe war."

After Thursday’s memorial service, Sapper Robinson’s casket was placed onto a Long Range Patrol Vehicle (LRPV) by fellow engineers and led through an honour guard of soldiers from the Task Group. He was escorted onto a waiting RAAF C-130 Hercules aircraft to begin the long journey home to family and friends in Australia.

"Rowan was a man who was as selfless as he was courageous," CO SOTG said.

"His actions on the day he was killed led to the removal of several insurgents and the largest cache of weapons, ammunition, drugs and bomb components found this year," CO SOTG said.

The Commander of Australian forces in the Middle East, Major General Angus Campbell, said the work of Sapper Robinson and his fellow combat engineers was fraught with danger.

"Under heavy fire, with his mates in danger Sapper Robinson moved at great risk to himself to provide covering fire," Major General Campbell said.

"Sapper Robinson accepted his role to protect his mates and clear the way forward. He did so with guts and determination. He did so always leading from the front. He will be sadly missed by his mates, friends and family."

Sapper Robinson will be repatriated through RAAF Amberley and will be buried with full military honours

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