Published: Thu 18 Apr 2013

Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG will join the ANZAC Day veterans’ march at Australian War Memorial, accompanied by three children, whose fathers, Sergeant Matthew Locke MG and Sergeant Blaine Diddams, lost their lives in Afghanistan.

Sergeant Locke’s son, Keegan (17 years), Sergeant Diddams’s daughter, Elle-Lou (16 years), and son, Henry (14 years), will travel from Perth to the Memorial to march on behalf of their fallen fathers.

Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG regards it as an honour to march with the children of his mates.

“ANZAC Day marches are an important part of our commemoration ceremonies. They denote an important understanding by the general public that freedom is not free. As a returned serviceman, I know that all those who march do so for those who can’t.

“It is our responsibility to remember our fallen and the sacrifices that they have made. Equally important is remembering the sacrifice of their families. 

“It is my great honour this year to march alongside the children of Sergeant Matthew Locke and Sergeant Blaine Diddams, both outstanding soldiers, who have made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan, and who were my mates. These children will never again feel their fathers’ touch or hear their kind words, but they will be proud of their service and the legacy they have left. Their sacrifice is enduring, and we can never forget that," said Corporal Roberts-Smith VC MG. 

This ANZAC Day, Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial, is encouraging the veterans of recent conflicts and their families to participate in the Memorial’s Dawn Service and the National Ceremony. He says it is essential to remind all Australians that ANZAC Day is a time to remember the sacrifices not only of past Australian servicemen and women, but also of those recently and currently serving.

“ANZAC Day is about coming together with loved ones, to remember those who are no longer with us and to honour those who have served or are still serving on our behalf.

“ANZAC Day gives Australians an opportunity and responsibility to reflect upon the loss of Australian lives in conflict. Keegan, Elle-Lou, and Henry represent all those families who feel the impact of this loss daily. In marching they are demonstrating the courage of their fathers and we owe it to them to show that we admire and deeply appreciate what they have given for our nation,” said Dr Nelson.

The children of Locke and Diddams will march wearing their fathers’ medals.

Sergeant Matthew Locke was killed by Taliban insurgent small-arms fire on 25 October 2007. He was awarded the Medal for Gallantry in December 2006. Sergeant Blaine Diddams was killed during a small-arms engagement with insurgents on 2 July 2012.

CONTACT DETAILS

Tom Vasey          (02) 6243 4575        0409 600 038     media@awm.gov.au
Marylou Pooley    (02) 6243 4383        0412 646 298

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