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Relief soldier’s injuries not life-threatening

29 October 2003 Media Statement
Relief soldier’s injuries not life-threatening

Minister of Defence Mark Burton is relieved that the injuries sustained today by Captain Hayden Gardner are not life threatening.

Captain Gardner, who is part of engineering detachment of 61 New Zealand Defence Force personnel in Iraq, was injured today when an explosive device was detonated close his vehicle. He received injuries to his right arm and lower left leg, and has undergone surgery in a British field hospital.

“Obviously, our first concern is for Hayden’s well-being,” said Mark Burton. “We are hopeful he will make a rapid and full recovery from the injuries he has sustained.”

Captain Gardner’s role is to determine and coordinate engineering tasks associated with the detachments reconstruction role. At the time of his injury, he was traveling through Basra in a three-vehicle convoy. Two others were wounded in the attack, one of them fatally.

Mark Burton said that the incident is a reminder that the NZDF is operating in a hazardous environment.

“No deployment is without risk, and explosive devices are one of the operational hazards our NZDF personnel are well-trained to expect. While they can manage such risks, they cannot eliminate them completely.

“As I have always indicated, the viability of such deployments is kept under constant review, and such incidents remind us of the very real challenges our personnel face.

“Equally, however, they also underscore the real and urgent need for the kind of civil reconstruction and humanitarian support our NZDF personnel are providing.”

ENDS

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