Friday, November 28, 2008

TAS Old Boy Michael Fussell killed in Afghanistan

The Australian Defence Force has confirmed that 25-year-old Lieutenant Michael Fussell, has been killed in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device (IED.

The statement said Lieutenant Fussell was a member of the Sydney-based 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando). Their HQ is in fact just a few kilometres from where we live.

He was killed by a roadside bomb during a dismounted patrol in Oruzgan province, southern Afghanistan. Two other members of his unit were wounded during the attack, but have since returned to operational duties.

Michael was born in Coffs Harbour and then attended The Armidale School (TAS), my old school. He was a keen rugby player.

Michael enlisted in 2002, graduated from Duntroon in 2005 and was posted to artillery. He served in East Timor in 2006 and 2007.

Michale's decorations included the Australian Service Medal clasp, Timor-Leste and the Australian Defence Medal.

Michael was unmarried. Brother Daniel is also in the army, serving with an artillery regiment presently located in Brisbane.

Army Chief Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie extended his condolences to Lieutenant Fussell's family and friends.

"Our hearts go out to Michael's family during this very sad time. I hope the knowledge that they are in the thoughts and prayers of so many Australians will be a source of comfort for them," he said.

"Michael died while serving his nation and his sacrifice will never be forgotten. This loss is felt heavily by the wider Defence community, and particularly by members of the Australian Army."

TAS headmaster Murray Guest said Michael was still remembered as someone who made a solid contribution to school life and the local community.

"A very bright young man. He was a scholarship winner here who performed well through his HSC in 2001," he said.

"He was involved in a lot of things as well, a great giver to the community.

"He was a cadet in his early years and then a surf lifesaver a little later on and gave in lots of other forms as well."

He was also, apparently, a bit of a rascal at times!


I have updated this story with further material drawn from the SMH plus some additional personal comments. I also wrote a personal perspective, Saturday Morning Musings - TAS Old Boy killed in Afghanistan, that may be of interest to those interested in the history of TAS, Michael's old school.

The Defence Department release on Michael's death including the PM's statement can be found here.

Postscript 2

Michael's family has now released a statement on their loss. Apparently the funeral will be held in Armidale next Thursday. I am sure that the local paper will cover it in full - I will provide information here later.

Postscript 3

Three of Michael's friends and colleagues have left comments on this post. If you knew Michael and would like to leave a comment, I will ensure that they are all passed onto to TAS in advance of the funeral.

Postscript 4

TAS Head Murray Guest has advised that Michael's funeral will be held at Armidale's Old Teachers' College at 10:00am on Saturday 6 December.

For those who do not know Armidale, the TC stands in a prominent position on South Hill. There is plenty of parking around it. It is also in easy walking distance from the town centre.

Postscript 5

TAS Deputy Head Grant Harris provided the following update:

"Michael's body arrives at Richmond at 11.30am Wed (today) where there will be a Ramp Ceremony for family only. There will be a Military Service at the 4 RAR Barracks on Thursday in Sydney. His funeral in Armidale is at 10.00am on Saturday at the Old Teachers College Auditorium."

Postscript 6

The Armidale service was not covered in the local media, perhaps because of the family's request for privacy. I found one short general report. The Sydney military service on the Thursday was covered by the media as the main funeral. For reports see here, here.


Anonymous said...

RIP Mate, you will be misssed. One of the truely great genuine diggers out there.

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, anon.

Anonymous said...

Went through the college with you mate, you will be missed for your fun and games. Lest we forget

Anonymous said...

A great mate. A nice person. A dedicated officer and soldier. I won't forget you.

Anonymous said...

Can't believe you're gone. Have so many great memories of you from the ADFA/RMC. RIP.

Anonymous said...

Farewell Son of Australia. As a mother of a 4 RAR Commando my heart breaks for Michael's family at this sad time. To MIchael's parents and family you are not alone in your grief. The families of 4RAR Commando share it with you. MIchael will never be forgotten - he is in heaven now with other brave Australian's who have trodden this dangerous path so they we in this wonderful country can enjoy the freedom we take for granted. Rest In Peace

Anonymous said...

I never new you mate. I am in training for Commando Officer Selection in May 2009. I hope that one day I can have honour like you. Your story inspires me to be like you. I won't forget you, and when selection gets tough, I will think of you. RIP brother.

Andrew said...

R.I.P Mate. I'm sure the beer is cold and the cricket never end's in heaven.

Anonymous said...

Fuss. After years at school together you have been as you you know like a younger brother. Although you I have told you that many times now that you are gone it never seems like enough. It is rare to meet someone who touches so many people in such a shortened life, and you messages are reflective of this. You will be missed, but I take solice in the fact that you died doing soemthing that you belived in and for that I am greatful. Rest in peace and we shall meet again in the future. I cannot attend the funeral, although I would like to but you will be in my thoughts. THankyou to the old boys family who have grouped together in this sad time.

Jim Belshaw said...

Thank you all for your messages. I will now pass them onto the school. Over 220 people visited this post in the last few days. It is clear that Michael will be greatly missed.

Anonymous said...

rip mate

im at tas now and even though i dont know you personally i still feel connected with you through the school.

Anonymous said...

As a member of Mike's extended family it is a great comfort to go online and see how much people care. Thank you for sharing your feelings and thoughts.

Jim Belshaw said...

My thanks to the member of Mike's extended family for understanding what I was trying to achieve. I did wonder if I was not becoming too intrusive from a family perspective given the family's desire for privacy.

I had not expected the first posts to attract the level of interest that they did. Once this happened, once the comments started, it seemed sensible to try to provide more information as a service. However, this can be a difficult balancing act.

Hence my gratitude for the commment.

Anonymous said...

RIP Mick. We will all miss you dearly! We had some great times and you will always be in my heart and the hearts of so many more. The best and most gererous person ive ever known.
You are sadly missed.

Anonymous said...

RIP Fuss. Over two months later, I still can't believe you're gone. You really are the best person I've ever known and I will never forget you.

Anonymous said...

Anzac day around the corner, and 5.5 years later. Wish u were loving life still with ur family and friends. Every Anzac day is very sad remembering you and thinking of all the other men and women who have died doing what they believe in. Lest we forget.

Jim Belshaw said...

Thank you for leaving that comment, anon. I share your thoughts.