The bodies of the five Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan last week are on their way home.
The soldiers were farewelled by their colleagues in Tarin Kowt in a ceremony attended by senior International Security Assistance Force personnel and Afghan National Security Force commanders.
Penrith-born Lance-Cpl Stjepan Milosevic, 40, Sapper James Martin, 21, from Perth, and Pte Robert Poate, 23, who was born in Canberra, were killed by a rogue Afghan soldier at a patrol base in Oruzgan province.
In a separate incident, Lance-Cpl Mervyn McDonald, 30, from Carnarvon, and Pte Nathanael Galagher, 23, of Wee Waa, NSW, died when an ISAF helicopter crashed in Helmand province.
The poignant refrain of a lone piper playing a lament for the fallen set the tone as many of the onlookers were moved to tears.
At the ceremony, commanders paid homage and soldiers remembered fallen mates with heartfelt words.
The commanding officer of 3 RAR Task Group, Lt-Col Trent Scott, reached out to family and friends in their time of loss.
"We will honour our fallen mates through quiet professionalism and commitment to our mission here in Afghanistan and we will mourn them in the traditional Australian way when we get home," he said.
The head of the Special Operations Task Group, Lt-Col I, praised his fallen comrades.
"For these men, their contribution will live on in the memory of our lives, their spirit and achievements always in our hearts and minds," he said. "Tell others - tell them what these men did. History will not remember what we say here today. History will remember however, what these men did."
Commander of Australian forces in the Middle East Maj-Gen. Stuart Smith said the loss was deeply felt.
"We grieve as a Defence family," he said. "But we now place aside our pain to offer our thoughts and prayers to the families of each of these men."Australian soldiers and their coalition partners lined the route and saluted as a convoy of five long-range patrol vehicles slowly carried the soldiers to a Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules for their final journey home.
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