Defence Minister Mark Mitchell has extended his deepest condolences to the family of the Special Operations Force soldier who died during a maritime counter-terrorism training exercise off the Coromandel Peninsula this morning.
“I offer the government’s most sincere sympathies and my own to the soldier’s family. Our thoughts are very much with you at this terrible time,” Mr Mitchell says.
“No words can adequately describe this sudden and tragic loss. Your family member was a man who commanded high respect amongst his fellow soldiers and embodied the Army’s core values of courage, commitment, comradeship and integrity.
”This is a tragedy not only for the family, but for every member of the Defence Force. My thoughts are also with them today.
“I especially acknowledge the loss suffered by our Special Operations Force family and the soldier’s mates at Papakura. As Minister I’ve been supported by the SOF and have witnessed their professionalism on operations and in training.
“They take on difficult and demanding tasks and regularly accept significant risk. They do so to serve and protect their fellow New Zealanders.
“I understand there will be a high level of public interest and outpouring of sympathy for the family, but I ask that everyone give family, friends and colleagues the time and space they need to grieve.”