Sapper Martin to be farewelled in Perth

Sapper James Martin Photo: Department of Defence

A soldier who was killed in Afghanistan only three months into his first operational deployment for the Australian army will be farewelled in his home town of Perth on Tuesday.

Sapper James Martin, 21, was shot dead by a rogue Afghan soldier at a patrol base in Oruzgan province on August 29.

Two other members of the 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment Task Group, Penrith-born Lance Corporal Stjepan “Rick” Milosevic and Canberra-born Private Robert Poate, were also gunned down in the “green on blue” assault.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will attend Sapper Martin’s funeral, a day after they paid respects to Carnarvon-born Lance Corporal Mervyn McDonald, who was killed in a helicopter crash in Helmand province on August 30 and was laid to rest in Perth on Monday.

Sapper Martin joined the army in January last year as a combat engineer, proving a swift learner and adapting well to life in the armed forces.

“He was respected by his mates and was considered a loyal friend and comrade,” the Department of Defence said in a statement.

Once he had decided to enlist, Sapper Martin was determined and focused on his goal, researching and training meticulously while boosting his fitness, his family said.

For leisure, he enjoyed playing guitar and was also a keen reader and avid gamer, they said.

“He was very thoughtful, caring and considerate of others.

“This really showed when selecting gifts for family members on special occasions.

“James always seemed to be able to choose something perfect, even if it was something totally unexpected by the recipient at the time.”

Sapper Martin never shied away from an intellectual discussion and when opinions conflicted, he ended up being right most of the time.

“But he made you like him in the process,” his family said

He is survived by his mother Suzanne Thomas, his brother Angus and sister Holly, and his grandparents Lucille and Ralph Thomas.

“James was a wonderful person and he will be sorely missed by his family and anyone who knew him,” they said.


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