The family of Lance Corporal Mason Edwards, killed in a training accident as he prepared for a third tour of duty in Afghanistan, has paid tribute to their beloved son, brother and partner.
Lance Corporal Edwards, 30, from Sydney, was shot in the head during a night-time exercise at Cultana military base near Port Augusta in South Australia on Tuesday.
His distraught family say the dedicated soldier “was so strong, and yet the most gentle, caring, and loving man you would ever meet.
“He made us laugh every time we were together and his easy-going attitude was infectious.
“Our hearts ache for him.
Edwards an ‘excellent role model’
“Mason: We will always remember the way you showered us all in love and affection, and we will forever miss you.”
Born in Birmingham, England, Lance Corporal Edwards grew up in Queensland, where he went to school and university, before enlisting in the army in 2004.
A member of the 2nd Commando Regiment, specialising in mortars and heavy weapons, he served in East Timor in 2006, and in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008.
The Department of Defence has also paid tribute to the soldier, describing him as “consummate professional” who was “held in the highest regard” by both his commanders and his peers.
“His confident demeanour and professional approach under fire provided junior members of the section with an excellent role model,” the Department said.
Love for family, partner, colleagues
It has released a statement written by Lance Corporal Edwards before his death, in which he explains how much he loves his work, and his family.
“I want everyone to know that I love this line of work, the unit and the guys I work alongside.
“We do what we do for many reasons. I need little more reason than this – anyone of us could have been born in Afghanistan, but we are the lucky few who enjoy a lifestyle unsurpassed by anyone in the greatest country on Earth (Australia).
“As a final note, I tell my family, friends and my one and only Cassie that I loved them all until the day I died.”
Lance Corporal Edwards is survived by his parents, Julie and Kerrin, his siblings Katie, Remie and Jared, his nephew Henry; and his partner Cassie.