Thu July 5, 2012 9:11pm
THE body of fallen Australian digger Sergeant Blaine Diddams is on its way home after being farewelled by colleagues in Tarin Kowt.
Sergeant Diddams was killed on Tuesday after his patrol was dropped by helicopter, in pursuit of an insurgent.
He was shot in the chest and died at a medical facility in Tarin Kowt despite wearing combat body armour.
"Today we farewelled a husband and father, a mate and brother who will be forever missed but never forgotten," said an Australian Special Operations Task Group commander who can only be identified as Lieutenant Colonel J for security reasons.
"He died doing what he loved in the only way he knew how - to lead his men from the front."
His memorial service was held in Camp Russell at Multi-National Base, in Tarin Kowt, before his casket was moved to a waiting Australian C-130 Hercules aircraft.
Sgt Diddams, known as "Didds" to his mates, was a devoted family man, father of two, as well as a dedicated professional soldier.
Born in Canberra in 1971, Sgt Diddams enlisted in the Army in April 1990 and was posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment in Townsville, Queensland, later that year.
In 1995 he was posted to the elite SASR in Perth after completing the selection course.
Sgt Diddams was on his seventh tour of Afghanistan since 2001 and had deployed previously to Somalia, East Timor and the Solomon Islands.
Highly decorated, he was awarded a number of honours during his career and served in various operations over his 22 year career.
He is survived by his wife Toni-Ann, their daughter Elle-Lou and their son Henry, his parents Peter and Cate, and siblings Nikki, Sian, Christian and Luke.