THE mother of a Gayndah soldier killed in Afghanistan said her son died doing the job he loved.
Sapper Jacob Moerland was one of two Australian diggers killed in a roadside bomb blast on Monday morning, Afghanistan time.
“Jacob wanted to join the army from an early age and he loved his mates and his job,” mum Sandra Moerland said.
When Sapper Moerland joined the army in 2007, Mrs Moerland watched proudly with his sisters Bethany and Laura, and grandparents Dot and Bernie Jensen, at his march-out parade.
“I have never seen Jacob so happy as (that day),” she said.
Mrs Moerland said she wanted everyone to know how proud the 21-year-old was to serve his country.
He was on his first tour after being deployed to Afghanistan with the 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment in January.
“He went to Afghanistan not because he had to, but he thought it was a valuable job to help the people in Afghanistan,” she said.
“I am so proud of my son, Jacob. I love him and miss him very much.”
A second soldier from the regiment, 26-year-old Sapper Darren Smith, was also killed in the attack.
Another eight NATO soldiers were killed on Monday as Taliban insurgents launched a fresh wave of attacks.
It was 11 months since Australia suffered its last casualty in Afghanistan, and the pair's deaths were the first case of multiple Australian casualties since the Vietnam War.
Messages of support have flowed in for the Moerland family and Sapper Moerland's fiancee Kezia Muccahy. Gayndah RSL sub-branch president Errol Shepherd said the news had rocked the small community.
“We're very saddened by the loss of one of our mates,” he said.
“He, like many other soldiers, wanted to help and unfortunately a part of that is quite dangerous work.”
Mr Shepherd said the RSL would hold a memorial service after receiving more details and guidance from the soldier's family.
Friends and former classmates of Sapper Moerland yesterday posted messages of their grief on Facebook.
“Jacob, you have made Gayndah very proud. RIP, mate,” former Burnett State College student Hayley Briggs wrote.
“RIP, Jacob, you have done your country proud. My condolences to the family,” Tania Joseph posted.
The acting chief of the defence force, Lieutenant General David Hurley, said he was deeply saddened by the loss of the two soldiers.
“Their role is a dangerous one – seeking out explosive devices and other threats – to keep their colleagues safe,” Lt Gen Hurley said.
“They are fighting a determined enemy in the Taliban, whose aim is to kill and maim coalition soldiers and Afghan security personnel.”
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