Diggers oppose shrine’s burial
SOLDIERS serving in Afghanistan are furious that the top brass want to destroy a memorial wall at the main base in Oruzgan Province that carries the names of 40 Australians killed during our longest war.
According to the plan, the names of the dead will be painted over and the three large reinforced concrete T-wall panels they are written on broken down and buried on site.
Many Diggers, the families of those soldiers killed and the Australian War Memorial all want the wall removed and taken back to Australia to be displayed at the national memorial in Canberra.
Territorian Ray Palmer, whose son Commando Private Scott Palmer was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2010, said he would be upset and angry if the wall was not brought back or taken to another of the coalition countries.
‘‘I don’t care where it goes, I just don’t want it buried,’’ Mr Palmer said.
‘‘If they can bring everything else (back) . . . surely this can’t be difficult.’’
Mr Palmer said he was disappointed he had not been asked his thoughts on the decision to bury the wall and he was ‘‘ damn sure there are a lot of families out there that wouldn’t want this to happen’’.
The memorial features 114 names of all coalition troops ( Australian, American, Dutch and French) based at Camp Holland in Oruzgan Province who have died during the war.
Commanding officer of the force extraction unit, Lieutenant Colonel Paul Wright of Canberra, said he understood the significance of the wall to soldiers and the families of the fallen.
However, with the dead from four nations included it was not a simple matter and it would have to be cut into pieces to preserve the Australian names.
‘‘That was not deemed an appropriate way to treat the wall,’’ he said.
The plan to paint out the names, break it up and bury it has been approved by all four nations, but Colonel Wright admitted that no one had asked the question about repatriating the entire wall to Australia.
The key factor in the decision to destroy it was to prevent names from falling into the enemy hands and being used as propaganda.
Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson said he would like to see the memorial displayed at the museum.