12 Aug 2012

Service for slain soldiers told of their courage

4:28 am on 12 August 2012

The funeral service for two New Zealand soldiers killed in Afghanistan, has been told of their dedication and courage in the service of their country.

A procession with the caskets leaving the service.

A procession with the caskets leaving the service. Photo: RNZ

About 800 people gathered at the Burnham Military Camp near Christchurch on Saturday afternoon for the service for Lance Corporals Rory Malone and Pralli Durrer.

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mataparae told the gathering he was there to acknowledge the sacrifice the two brave soldiers made in the name of peace and in the name of New Zealand

He said as a former soldier, he had an inkling of the anguish and the grief that came with losing mates in arms and how it profoundly affects the family, friends and colleagues of those they mourn today.

Heartfelt tributes from the families of the two men ignited laughter, and tears from the crowd.

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman told mourners that life in Bamyan in Afghanistan was better because of the work of people like Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone.

He said the US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard were among those who had contacted the Government to pass on their thoughts.

Dr Coleman said the two men were part of a military tradition that New Zealand could be very proud of.

Chief of the defence force, Lieutenant-General Rhys Jones said the photographs on display showed the faces of ordinary New Zealanders who could have belonged to any family.

But he said the two men chose not to have an ordinary life, but the life of a soldier, with ethics and values.

Corporal Pralli Durrer's Uncle, Joe Durrer spoke of his nephew's bravery.

"Once Pralli entered the New Zealand army he found brotherhood that he honoured, loved, fought and eventually died for. Pralli has died a hero, there is no greater sacrifice than in the line of service to your country".

In a tribute to Rory Malone, Todd McBride, said his brother is his hero.

"He was a hardworking typical Kiwi boy, to you guys out there he's your fallen warrior, to me, he's my little bro', he's my hero".

A procession led by an army tank, and followed by a drum band led the caskets, mounted on army vehicles, out of the camp.

Family members and the soldiers' comrades walked behind the caskets.

Three volleys were fired, followed by the Last Post, a minute's silence and the raising of the flag.