Funeral held for digger killed in Afghanistan

Prime Minister John Howard, Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd and Defence Force head Angus Houston have joined mourners at Brisbane’s Saint Stephen’s Cathedral for the military funeral of trooper David Pearce.

The 41-year-old father of two from Oxenford, south of Brisbane, was killed after a roadside bomb struck his vehicle in southern Afghanistan earlier this month.

His casket, draped in the Australian flag, was piped into the cathedral to the tune of Amazing Grace.

The funeral was attended by trooper Pearce’s widow Nicole and her two daughters.

A personal eulogy was delivered by the dead soldier’s brother Edward Pearce while a military eulogy was delivered by trooper Pearce’s commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Chris Websdane.

Mr Pearce told the service his brother died doing what he loved.

“He loved the physical fitness he respected the discipline and enjoyed the mateship that only a digger would understand,” he said.

“In our discussions I asked ‘what do I tell them if you don’t come back?’ and he said ‘tell them I’m not being, sent I want to go, I’m doing what I want to do’.”

Lieutenant Colonel Chris Websdane told the service he would be remembered with “pride and privilege”.

“David was highly regarded by those closest to him who knew that when it counted most they could rely on “Poppy” to be there for them,” he said.

“David defined mateship and he exemplified what it meant to be a digger.”

At the end of the ceremony, trooper Pearce’s slouch hat and the Australian Flag that was draped over his casket were handed to his widow. A private burial will take place later today.

Queensland Parliament has observed a minute’s silence in memory of trooper Pearce.

Premier Anna Bligh paid tribute to the Brisbane-based soldier.

“David Pearce was not only a soldier, he was a much-loved husband and father and a mate to many,” she said.

“On behalf of this house I wish to pass on our deepest condolences to his wife Nicole and their daughters Stephanie and Hannah, the love and centre of his life.”

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