PORTLAOISE Priest Fr Paul Fitzpatrick has travelled to Australia to assist with the funeral of his nephew, who was killed in action with the Australian Army in Afghanistan.
Trooper Jason Brown, aged 29, died while serving with the Australian army last Saturday morning. The soldier had strong links with Laois and Carlow. Jason’s mother Ann, Fr Paul's sister, is a native of 18 McGamhna Road, Carlow. Ann is married to Graham form New South Wales. Jason’s grandparents originate from Graiguecullen and Killeshin. The soldier's twin brother Francis still lives in Carlow. The soldier had one sister, Stephanie.
According to Portlaoise parish, Fr Fitzpatrick is on his way to Sydney along with members of his family to participate in and help out with the funeral. Msgr John Byrne, Portlaoise's PP, extended his condolences to his colleague and to the Brown family. "Its very sad and tragic circumstances. Paul is very close to the family. Even if they were separated by a lot of miles Paul had visited them a number of times.”
In a statement, his parents Graham and Ann and sister Stephanie say he was a career soldier who dreamed from a young age of being nothing else.
“Everyone who knew him knew his dream. He strived to be the best he could be at his job and was successfully accepted into the elite Special Air Service Regiment,” they said.
“He was born to be a soldier, and believed in what he was doing. He died doing what he loved. We are all very proud of him. We will miss him dearly, as will his army mates, who were his second family.”
Trooper Brown, 29, was a member of the elite Perth-based Special Air Service Regiment (SASR). He was killed by insurgent small arms fire last Friday after suffering multiple wounds while on patrol in northern Kandahar.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said her "most sincere condolences go out to his family and friends".
"This is tragic news for our nation; it's the 18th soldier we've lost and 145 of our personnel have been wounded," she said.
The commander of Australian troops in Afghanistan, Major-General John Cantwell said Trooper Brown was remembered by his SAS mates and colleagues from 2nd Commando Regiment as a professional soldier who strived to excel in everything he did.
Fr Fitzpatrick will also be celebrating a number of other masses in Sydney during his stay.