The young digger killed in Afghanistan earlier this week has been farewelled by friends and colleagues in a moving ramp ceremony at Australia’s main base at Tarin Kowt.
Corporal Scott Smith’s casket was driven through a guard of honour, before being loaded onto a C130 Hercules en route to Australia.
An Australian Army chaplain led an open-topped car past hundreds of Australians lining the short route from the base to the tarmac. Corporal Smith’s fellow diggers flanked his casket the whole way.
A private service was earlier held in the Special Operations Task Group section of the base.
The Commander of Australia’s forces in the Middle East, Major General Michael Crane, flew to Afghanistan to attend the ceremony and to speak with the diggers.
‘‘I’d just like to offer, on behalf of all the members of Joint Task Force 633, my sincere condolences to Corporal Smith’s family. Corporal Scott Smith was a fine soldier and a good bloke and he’ll be sorely missed,’’ he said.
Major General Crane said he told Corporal Smith’s peers that this incident will affect them in different ways and he encouraged them to reach out for support. On Sunday, Corporal Smith, 24, an engineer with the Special Operations Task Group, was killed by an improvised explosive device while clearing a compound in the country’s south.
Major General Crane says his mates kept a vigil by him day and night before the ceremony.
Corporal Smith is the 39th Australian to have lost his life in the Afghan conflict.
‘‘There is still work to be done and it’s difficult and dangerous work and no one should be under any illusions about that,’’ Major General Crane said.
Overnight, two US servicemen were killed when a gunman wearing an Afghan National Police uniform turned his weapon on the soldiers.
The incident is under investigation.