Family pays tribute to fallen soldier

Jacinda Baker
Jacinda Baker
The family of slain Kiwi soldier Jacinda Baker has paid tribute to their "special" girl, who would have celebrated her 27th birthday today.

Army medic Lance Corporal Baker, 26, died instantly along with comrades Corporal Luke Tamatea, 31, and Private Richard Harris, 21, when a roadside bomb destroyed their Humvee in Afghanistan's northeast Bamiyan Province on August 19.

Their bodies were flown home last week, and given a full military farewell at Burnham Military Camp, where they all served, on Saturday.

Ahead of Baker's private family funeral tomorrow, her Christchurch parents Peter and Joyce have remembered their "much loved" daughter on what would have been her birthday.

"Jacinda, my beautiful girl, today we celebrate 27 years of knowing you," they wrote in a death notice published today.

"You are such a special girl and more precious that you'll ever know.

"You are an inspiration to us and will remain firmly planted in our memories forever.

"We will never forget your smile and your spirit.

"You were and will always be loved. Love you, Snoepje, Mum, Dad, and Laura. xxx."

Baker is the first female New Zealand soldier to die in service since the Vietnam War - and the first to be killed in combat since World War Two.

Auckland nurse Sister Lesley Cowper died of tuberculosis in Saigon Hospital in 1966 while serving in the Vietnam War.

A celebration of Baker's life will be held tomorrow at St John's Anglican Church in Rangiora, north of Christchurch.


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