23 Apr 2012

Family of killed soldier receive Memorial Cross

10:24 pm on 23 April 2012

The parents of Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell - New Zealand's first casualty in Afghanistan - have been presented with the Memorial Cross at a ceremony in Wellington.

Lieutenant O'Donnell died when a Provincial Reconstruction Team patrol he was leading was ambushed by insurgents during a roadside bombing in Bamyan province in August 2010.

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On Monday, the Feilding family became the 125th since the end of World War II to receive the award presented by the Governor-General, Lieutenant-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, in Wellington.

The medal is to recognise the family - and in particular the women behind those who have died while on duty overseas.

The soldier's mother Mary-Anne O'Donnell received the medal, which she says will be brought out on Anzac Day and passed down through the O'Donnell women.

"For me, it's bitter in the fact that Tim died and we have to be here to collect this medal - you don't really want to do it - but sweet in the fact that he is one and there could have been a lot more.

"The fact they were so good to survive is the sweet part of this."

Among family and friends to also attend were Lieutenant O'Donnell's father, Mark O'Donnell, and siblings Andrew and Anna O'Donnell.

Prime Minister John Key also attended the ceremony at Government House.