Sombre crowd respect our fallen

Belinda Woodward and Bev Draper waited as the bodies of three fallen soldiers passed by.
Belinda Woodward and Bev Draper waited as the bodies of three fallen soldiers passed by. Claudia Baxter

THE bodies of three Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan last week returned home yesterday to a moving ramp ceremony at RAAF Base Amberley.

Lance Corporal Stjepan 'Rick' Milosevic, Sapper James Martin and Private Robert Poate were honoured by members of their respective units - 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment, 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment and 6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment - before their caskets were carried from a RAAF C-17 Globemaster aircraft to their families.

Following the memorial service, hearses carrying the fallen soldiers left the base under police escort, travelling down Southern Amberley Rd, which was recently given the name "Heroes Way" by the Ipswich City Council.

Residents lined the route, waving Australian flags to pay their respects to the most recent casualties of the Afghanistan conflict.

Ipswich resident Mary Platt said she simply wanted to show people care about the sacrifice the soldiers had made.

"I just wanted to say thank you," Ms Platt said.

"These soldiers have laid down their lives for us and it's something a lot of people take for granted."

Bev Draper, of Flinders View, waited two hours to see the vehicles pass by in a matter of seconds, but said she was proud to have shown her support.

"I've come out of respect for the guys and girls in the ADF," Ms Draper said.

"I would have waited all day it doesn't matter.

"They don't necessarily sign up to go overseas, but they do it and we need to respect what they do."

Belinda Woodward, a former defence service person, said the loss of local soldiers was close to her heart.

"Most of my friends are here at Amberley or overseas on deployment," she said.

"So I'm here out of a sign of respect for them and their friends.

"I've grown up in Amberley and I'm from a defence family so I wouldn't have missed this for the world."

A second ramp ceremony for Lance Corporal Mervyn McDonald and Private Nathanael Galagher was also held yesterday at RAAF Base Richmond.

Topics:  afghanistan australian defence force raaf base amberley

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