Friday, August 26, 2022

Father of NZ soldier killed in Ukraine says son was 'kind, gentle man’

NZ soldier killed in Ukraine

It comes as the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) confirmed the soldier who was killed in Ukraine while on leave was Corporal Dominic Abelen.

"Corporal Abelen, 30, served with 2nd/1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (RNZIR) based in Burnham, and had served with the NZDF for 10 years," the NZDF said in a statement.

"He was on a period of leave without pay at the time of his death and was not on active duty with the NZDF."

A tribute from his father Bryce was also attached to the statement.

It reads: "Dominic was in the NZ Army for 10 years but never got to fight for his country.

"He didn't tell us he was going to Ukraine until he was there. He knew we would talk him out of it. He also knew the risks of going there but still went to fight for them.

"That is Dominic, always thinking of helping others.

"We understand why he went and hold no grudge against the NZ or Ukraine Army and fully support what he did.

"Dominic loved being in the army, the life-long friends he made there.

"There has been relentless support from half the Burnham Military Camp that knew him, as well as personnel from overseas.

"A kind, gentle man with the most infectious smile that you couldn't help but smile back.

"He had a love of the outdoors and did a lot of tramping. He spent his holidays travelling around New Zealand and the world.

"I'm extremely proud of my children and especially Dominic for standing up and doing what he thought was right. He leaves a massive hole in all our hearts."

The NZDF says it is supporting consular officials around formal identification and repatriation, "Noting the very difficult circumstances of doing so in a conflict zone".

Commanding Officer of 2/1 RNZIR Lieutenant Colonel Cory Neale said Corporal Abelen had deployed to Iraq during his time in service and was "a well-liked and respected soldier".

"Corporal Abelen was a quality junior non-commissioned officer, a trusted go-to member of his company and an absolute character who genuinely cared for his soldiers and friends.

"He will be missed, but also remembered long into the future," Neale said.Corporal Abelen's sister also paid tribute to him.

"The most amazing human being and the buffest Abelen with the biggest heart to match. Makes everyone he knew immensely proud. The embodiment of drive and power," she said.

"I am so proud to call you my brother, I knew you always wanted to risk your life for what you believe in. You proved that so I won't be sad that you are gone but proud that you lived the life of a hero."

NZDF says it will not comment on the circumstances surrounding Corporal Abelen's death as he was not on active duty.

The NZDF also clarified that it doesn't know how many of their personnel on leave might be in Ukraine at present.

(Source: 1News)

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