CANBERRA: An Australian special operations soldier has been killed and four others wounded during a firefight with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Father-of-two Lance Corporal Jason Marks, 27, of the Sydney-based 4RAR (Commando) unit, was named as the dead soldier by Defence Force chief Angus Houston at a media briefing.
Lance Corporal Marks was in the lead platoon preparing for a “company-level” assault 25 kilometres to the south-east of Tarin Kowt when they were attacked by the Taliban, Air Chief Marshal Houston said. There was a heavy exchange of small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades between the Australian troops and the Taliban, he said.
He said the four other soldiers were wounded by small arms fire in the same action that killed Lance Corporal Marks. “The body of the deceased soldier and the other Australian casualties were moved by helicopter to a coalition medical facility at Tarin Kowt,” Air Chief Marshal Houston told reporters. “The condition of the wounded soldiers is still being fully assessed by medical specialists, although early indications are that the wounds are not life threatening,” he said.
“This is a sad day for the Australian Defence Force, and in particular the Australian Army.”I extend my deepest sympathies to the family, colleagues and friends of the deceased soldier. “Our best wishes are also with the wounded soldiers in the hope that they make a speedy recovery.” Lance Corporal Marks was born in the far western NSW town of Broken Hill and raised in the central Queensland town of Yeppoon.
He was based in Sydney and was married with two small children. Kenneth Marks, an uncle of Jason Marks in Broken Hill said: “He was a great young man and it’s a shame that he was over there. I’m too upset [to say anymore].” Air Chief Marshal Houston said the type of operation that claimed the life of Lane Corporal Marks was “essential” to Afghanistan’s future. “Our troops remain fully committed to this important work in conjunction with our coalition partners and the government of Afghanistan,” he said. The Australian base at Tarin Kowt is in Afghanistan’s south.-SANA