Fallen Diggers farewelled

Lauren Black - Defence Media

ONE of the soldiers murdered by a rogue Afghan soldier two weeks ago has been remembered as a "red-headed larrikin" who will never be forgotten by his family or comrades.

More than 700 people gathered in Canberra for the funeral of Private Robert Poate, 23, who was killed in an insider attack along with Lance Corporal Stjepan "Rick" Milosevic, 40, and 21-year-old Sapper James Martin on August 29.

A funeral for LCpl Milosevic was held in Brisbane earlier in the day.

In the nation's capital, the Canberra Grammar School chapel struggled to cope with the large number of mourners who had gathered to commemorate Pvt Poate's life and to reflect on the memories of a loving and loyal son, brother, friend and comrade.

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Jennings, Commanding Officer, 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, paid his respects in a moving eulogy reflecting on Pvt Poate's determination, commitment and mischievous sense of humour.

"His reputation as a red-headed larrikin among his mates and his dependability was known to all around him," Lt Col Jennings said.

"Despite being a junior soldier, he was a hard worker with solid potential and enthusiasm.

"We will never forget Robert Poate for his service, mateship and courage as a warrior in the best traditions of the Royal Australian Regiment and the Australian Army."

Students from Canberra Grammar School lined the driveway to farewell Pvt Poate, a former student of the school, as his coffin left the school grounds atop a gun carriage.

Pvt Poate is survived by his parents, Hugh and Janny, and his sister, Nicola.

The funeral was also attended by the Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin, and Deputy Chief of Army, Major General Angus Campbell.

In Brisbane, LCpl Milosevic, 40, was remembered as a "courageous, committed and immensely proud soldier".

LCpl Milosevic, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is survived by his partner, Kelly, and daughters Sarah, 8, and Kate, 6.

Chief of Army Lieutenant General David Morrison attended the Brisbane service.

The three Australian soldiers, from the 3RAR Task Group, were shot in cold blood while relaxing at the end of a long day at a patrol base in Uruzgan province.

A manhunt for Sergeant Hekmatullah, the Afghan soldier wanted over the killings, continues.

A $US5000 bounty has been placed on his head.

Topics:  afghanistan defence funeral murder soldiers

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