Two Kiwi soldiers killed in Afghanistan have been remembered for the humour and courage they brought to the armed forces at a service in Christchurch today.
Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone, both aged 26,
were killed by insurgents in Bamiyan Province last Saturday after a
fierce three-minute gun fight in a village near Do Abe.
Their bodies arrived back in the country on United States Air Force C-17 aircraft on Thursday night.
A commemorative military service for the pair was held at Burnham Military Camp at 1pm, where the soldiers were remembered by around 600 people.
Family, colleagues and friends of the pair spoke about the courage and bravery the soldiers held, as well as their humour.
Lieutenant Colonel Stefan Michie said Malone was joking up until his last mission.
"He could be heard joking that his section was going on another notorious mountain climb, and they'd better be quick in order to make it back in time for dinner."
Malone's elder brother, Todd McBriar, said: "May his humour be remembered, may his laughter be heard, may Rory Patrick Malone be at peace."
Durrer was also known as a "joker", said Lieutenant Colonel James Kaio, but it was his courageous character that stood out the most.
"Mischief and staunch are probably the best words [to describe him].
"Even though he wasn't the biggest of men, he had the heart of a lion, and this trait was obvious in the way he died."
Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae acknowledged how profoundly the families and friends of Durrer and Malone would be affected by the deaths.
"As a former soldier, I stand before you with an inkling of the anguish and grief that comes from losing mates-in-arms and how profoundly it affects the family, friends and colleagues of those whom we mourn today.
Mateparae also extended his thanks on behalf of all New Zealanders to Durrer and Malone for their services to the country.
"There is sadness and honour in remembering you and your sacrifice to our nation.
"Be at peace, and know that while we grieve for your passing, we also celebrate you as two of New Zealand's soldiers whose names will not be forgotten."
Following the service their bodies are returned to their families for private funerals.
Prime Minister John Key has ordered the New Zealand flag to be flown at half-mast on all Government and public buildings today as a mark of respect for the soldiers.