Five diggers killed in Afghanistan make final journey home
Private Nathanael John Aubrey Galagher is remembered as a "country boy at heart". Photo: Supplied
The five Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan last week are on the final leg of their journey home and are due to reach Australia this afternoon.
Lance Corporal Stjepan 'Rick' Milosevic, Sapper James Martin and Private Robert Poate from the 3 RAR Task Group were killed and two other soldiers were wounded in a so-called ''green on blue'' attack at a patrol base in Oruzgan last week.
In a separate incident, Lance Corporal Mervyn McDonald and Private Nathanael Galagher from the Special Operations Task Group died when an ISAF Black Hawk crashed in Helmand.
Lance Corporal Mervyn John McDonald was the ‘‘warmest guy you’d ever meet’’. Photo: Supplied
Last night, Private Galagher's family remembered him as a loving man who was a ''country boy at heart''.
''Nate loved the Army, but it was only one part of what made the man,'' a statement said.
''We never heard Nate say a bad thing about anyone. His love for his family was apparent to all.
''Easygoing is the perfect word to describe Nate.''
Private Galagher's partner Jessie Feeney - who is pregnant with their child - said there was ''no trait of Nate's that I wouldn't want his son to inherit''.
''My pledge to Nate is that his son will understand the wonderful man who his dad was.''
Becoming a father was ''so important'' to Private Galagher, his family said.
''You've never seen a man so happy to hear the news that he had a baby on the way,'' they said.
Lance Corporal McDonald's fiancee Rachael Sprigg-McKinnie remembered ''Merv'' as the ''warmest guy you'd ever meet''.
''You could see it in his eyes, they had a special sparkle.''
Ms Sprigg-McKinnie described Lance Corporal McDonald as ''a real Aussie bloke with a passion for his country.''
This included four-wheel driving, bushwalking and swimming, spearing and barbequing at the beach.
''Merv just loved the water and the beach was his second home.''
Ms Sprigg-McKinnie said her finance loved being a digger. ''Even after several tours, he felt a real sense of duty to return to Afghanistan.''
''Words cannot express just how proud I am of the service he has given to his mates and his country.''
The two were due to get married in Bendigo next Easter and were hoping to start a family soon after.
''Merv would have been a fantastic husband and a wonderful dad.''
Yesterday, the five fallen soldiers were farewelled in a ramp ceremony at the Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.
The soldiers will be repatriated at RAAF Base Amberley near Brisbane and RAAF Base Richmond in Sydney.