(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)
There have been nationwide commemorations to mark the end of Australia’s war effort in Afghanistan.
And parades to officially welcome home all those who served.
Phillippa Carisbrooke reports.
(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)
“Sergeant Matthew Locke. Medal for Gallantry. Special Air Service Regiment. 25 October 2007. Age 33.”
The names of the 41 Australians killed serving in Afghanistan, read at a sombre ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
Around the country there have been services and events to honour the near 35,000 defence personnel, officials, police and diplomats who from late 2001 through to the end of last year (2014) served in Afghanistan, in what was called Operation Slipper.
Speaking at a welcome home ceremony in the nation’s capital, the Prime Minister Tony Abbott recognised their sacrifice.
He noted that decades earlier soldiers returning from Vietnam were not properly acknowledged.
And stressed that it would be different for those who served in Afghanistan.
“I say to all our Afghanistan veterans, we are grateful to have you home, we acknowledge your achievements, and we thank you for your service. (clapping)”
Over 260 Australians were seriously wounded in Afghanistan.
And hundreds of others suffered unseen wounds.
The leader of the opposition, Bill Shorten, said he saluted those who’d served in Australia’s longest war, and who had brought new honour to the Anzac tradition.
“We honour your steely professionalism and your conspicuous personal bravery. We renew our promise to remember you brothers who lost their lives in the valleys and green mountains of Afghanistan.”
Speaking in Canberra, the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, paid tribute to those who over 13-years supported operations from home.
“To the partners. Parents. Children and siblings who carried on in our absence. Thank you. Every one of us on parade here today shares a deep appreciate for your service. And a genuine admiration for you strength and endurance.”
The Prime Minister said the war in Afghanistan had ended not with victory or with defeat, but with hope for a better Afghanistan and a safer world.