05 July 2012

Sgt Diddams farewelled by the Special Operations Task Group in Tarin Kot

Members of the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) farewelled Australian Army Sergeant Blaine Diddams in a moving memorial service at Camp Russell today.

Sergeant Diddams was shot during an engagement with insurgents on Tuesday, while on a mission targeting an insurgent commander who was known to be in the Chorah region at the time.

SOTG Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel J, paid tribute to a well-respected and highly experienced Special Forces soldier during the service in Tarin Kot, Afghanistan.

“Today we farewelled a husband and father, a mate and brother who will be forever missed but never forgotten,” Lieutenant Colonel J said.

“He died doing what he loved in the only way he knew how – to lead his men from the front. Blaine was the relaxed professional whose quick wit and sense of humour could turn a smile in even the worst of situations."
“He was a devoted father and husband who lived life to the fullest. He thrived on adventure and time with his mates and he was the type of person that if you were in trouble or on a winning streak, you wanted to share the experience with,” he said.

The Memorial Service was held in Camp Russell at Multi-National Base – Tarin Kot, before his casket was moved to a waiting Australian C-130 Hercules aircraft.

Soldiers from SOTG along with Australian, Afghan and coalition forces personnel lined the route to salute as the casket carrying their comrade passed to begin his journey home to Australia.

The Commander of Australian Defence Forces in the Middle East, Major General Stuart Smith, said the loss of Sergeant Diddams was deeply felt by all ranks.

“Sergeant Diddams was an elite soldier, working with a professional team, on a vital mission to support security and safety for the people of Uruzgan,” Major General Smith said.

Sergeant Diddams, ‘Didds’ to his mates, was a devoted family man and a dedicated professional soldier. Known for his outwards personality and quirky sense of humour, he was held in the highest regard by his mates and comrades alike.

Sergeant Diddams has been awarded the following honours and awards:
• Australian Active Service Medal with Clasp Somalia, Clasp East Timor, Clasp ICAT
• International Forces East Timor (INTERFET) Medal
• Afghanistan Campaign Medal
• Australian Service Medal with Clasp Solomon Islands, Clasp ‘CT/SR’
• Defence Long Service Medal
• Australian Defence Medal
• Meritorious Unit Citation
• Infantry Combat Badge, and
• Returned from Active Service Badge.

During Sergeant Diddams’ service in the Australian Army he deployed on the following Operations:
• Operation Solace (Somalia) – Jan – May 1993
• Operation Warden (East Timor) – Jan – Feb 2000
• Operation Tanager (East Timor) – February – May 2000
• Operation Trek (Solomon Islands) – 2002
• Operation Slipper (Afghanistan) – Nov 2001 – Apr 2002
• Operation Slipper (Afghanistan) – May – Oct 2007
• Operation Slipper (Afghanistan) – Jan – April 2008
• Operation Slipper (Afghanistan) – May – July 2008
• Operation Slipper (Afghanistan) – Jun – Nov 2009
• Operation Slipper (Afghanistan) – Jan – Jul 2011
• Operation Amulet (CHOGM Perth) – 2011
• Operation Slipper (Afghanistan) – Feb 2012 – April 2012.

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