Prime Minister Julia Gillard has paid tribute to an experienced commando who died from a gunshot wound in southern Afghanistan.
Sergeant Todd Langley, 35, died on the battlefield after being shot in the head during a fire fight yesterday morning (local time).
Ms Gillard has honoured his service and that of his Special Operations Task Group regiment.
“He was a brave and exceptional soldier, very highly regarded by his mates and friends in the Defence Force,” she said.
The new chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley, made the announcement this morning on only his second day in the job.
“Despite emergency first aid treatment form a medical officer he died on the battlefield from his wounds,” he said.
General Hurley described Sergeant Langley, from the Sydney-based 2nd Commando regiment, as a “devoted family man”.
“He was a brave and professional soldier who never took a backward step, and despite their grief his comrades say he will continue to inspire them,” General Hurley said.
Sergeant Langley was on his fifth deployment to Afghanistan and had undertaken two deployments to East Timor.
He had been awarded two commendations for distinguished service and a unit citation for bravery.
“Sergeant Langley’s Special Operations Task Group mates describe him as an exemplary warrior, a true leader who always brought out the best from those around him,” General Hurley said.
But General Hurley denied that five postings to Afghanistan was too many for one soldier.
General Hurley says the soldier has contacted his family.
“Twenty-eight Australians have been killed in action in Afghanistan and these men are not numbers. They are fathers, husbands, sons, brothers and mates,” General Hurley said.
“Australians will not forget their selfless sacrifice.”
Defence Minister Stephen Smith said Australian soldiers are going through a very tough time in Afghanistan.
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