The SAS soldier killed in Afghanistan yesterday has been named. He was Lance-Corporal Leon Smith, aged in his mid-thirties. The Defence Force is not releasing any other details at this point.
Lcpl Smith is the second SAS member killed in combat in a short space of time. There are already calls for New Zealand troops to be brought home, but we agree wholeheartedly with Phil Goff's comment yesterday that now is not the time for that debate.
Leon Smith has tragically paid the ultimate price for serving Queen and Country. As a member of the elite SAS he will have been only too aware of the dangers inherent in deployment to such an unstable country as Afghanistan, but he accepted the deployment nonetheless, placing service above self.
Our thoughts, our prayers and our aroha are with Leon Smith's whanau, and his Defence Force colleagues. May they be comforted in their loss by the knowledge that he died doing what he believed had to be done. The familiar words of Laurence Binyon's For the Fallen seem especially poignant today, and we offer them as a tribute to Lance-Corporal Leon Smith's service and untimely death:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.