Sergeant Blaine Diddums was a member of the Perth-based Special Air Service Regiment. He was a highly experienced soldier on his seventh tour of Afghanistan with previous deployments to Somalia, East Timor and the Solomon Islands.
He was a Regiment Patrol Commander with the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan and was killed during an engagement with insurgents in the Chorah district of Uruzgan province on 2 July 2012. He was leading his team on a mission to kill an insurgent leader who they had been tracking for some time when he was shot in the chest. He died on the way to hospital in Tarin Kowt.
Sergeant Diddums was decorated by US forces for his participation in the fierce battle of Anaconda in March 2002.
SAS 'family' closed ranks around his wife and children in Perth yesterday. "They talk about blokes being a soldier's soldier, but in Did's case, it was 100% true" a former comrade said, "He was an absolute champion."
US Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich said "We really mourn the loss of everyone, but our Australian mates as well, we work so closely together."
A source for the SAS rejected suggestions of battle fatigue. "The regiment manages fatigue very well, and if someone needs a rest, they get a rest" he said. Many Special Forces troops have undertaken five or six tours of duty so far and have been told they will be in Afghanistan until at least 2018, so more deployments will not be unusual.