Sergeant Matthew Locke MG
It is with great sadness that the Department of Defence announces the death of Sergeant Matthew Locke, MG serving with Special Air Service Regiment in Uruzgan Province in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, 25 October 2007
Sergeant Locke was on a patrol when fatally wounded by small arms fire from Taliban extremists.
Sergeant Locke was involved in Operation Spin Ghar, which directly supported an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Afghan National Security Forces operation to target and clear Taliban extremists from the area around Tarin Kot, in Uruzgan province.
Defence extends its sympathies to Sergeant Locke’s family and continues to provide support to them during this difficult time.
Sergeant Matthew Locke enlisted into the Australian Regular Army on the 11 June, 1991. After he completed his Recruit Training at Kapooka, he was allocated to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps and commenced his Initial Employment Training at Singleton, New South Wales on the 10 September 1991. At the completion of his Initial Employment Training, Matthew was posted to the 5th/7th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment.
Matthew had a flair for Infantry training and whilst at the 5th/7th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, he completed Driver Courses, Basic Mortar Course, promotion courses and became a Small Arms Coach.
It was obvious that Matthew wanted to be challenged as a soldier so in November 1997, Matthew successfully completed the Special Air Service Selection Course. Over the next two years, Matthew completed another 15 specialist courses ranging from patrolling, demolitions, diving, parachuting, and medical. Matthew was posted to the 3rd Special Air Service Squadron.
Sergeant Locke was awarded the Medal for Gallantry, the Australian Active Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Australian Defence Medal, the United Nations Medal with the United Nations Transitional Authority East Timor Ribbon, the Iraq Clasp to the Australian Active Service Medal, the International Coalition Against Terrorism Clasp to the Australian Active Service Medal, the Infantry Combat Badge and the Returned from Active Service Badge.
During Sergeant Locke's service in the Australian Army he deployed on the following Operations:
- Operation Tanager (East Timor): 2001;
- Operation Slipper (Afghanistan): 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2007; and
- Operation Catalyst (Iraq): 2004, 2005, 2007.
Statements of condolence
Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houstson:
Sergeant Matthew Locke was everything you would expect of an Australian soldier. He was courageous, dedicated and very professional. He took great pride in being an Aussie digger, displaying the characteristics of loyalty, mateship and determination for which Australian soldiers are renowned.
Sergeant Locke died whilst working with our coalition partners and Afghan forces to drive the Taliban from their sanctuaries and create an enduring security presence in the area. Operation ‘Spin Ghar’ was to target and clear Taliban from the area around Tarin Kot in Uruzgan Province.
Sergeant Locke had extensive operational experience in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan and was one of the finest soldiers in the Australian Army.
Sergeant Locke will be greatly missed by his brothers in arms. He was admired and respected by all who served with him. His energy, enthusiasm and sense of humour made him a popular figure in the Special Air Service Regiment.
In 2006, his courage was recognised with a Medal of Gallantry, one of the Australian Defence Force’s highest honours. With complete disregard for his own safety, Sergeant Locke braved heavy enemy fire to neutralise the Taliban advancing on the Australian position and in doing so saved the lives of his mates. His courage on that day was but one example of the extraordinary valour we have come to expect from the Special Air Service.
Major General Mark Evans, Commander Joint Task Force 633, Middle East Area of Operations:
On behalf of all members of Joint Task Force 633 - Middle East Area of Operations, I would like to say how deeply saddened we are by the tragic loss of Sergeant Matthew Locke, a member of Task Force 66 (TF66) who was killed today while on active duty in Afghanistan.
Our thoughts and support go out to his family, friends, and his colleagues in the Special Operations Task Group, and Special Air Service Regiment, all of whom are affected by his death.
Our immediate focus and priority is the care and comfort of Matthew’s family during this difficult period.
Sergeant Locke’s sacrifice and legacy will endure and he will not be forgotten.
Governor-General of Australia Major General Michael Jeffery:
Sergeant Locke, from my observations, was a magnificent soldier. He was brave, he was an absolute professional, but he also had a wonderful sense of humour and was very compassionate and I know that he will be missed, not just by his patrol, but also by the whole regiment.
Sergeant Locke was doing what he loved doing, that is commanding the best soldiers in the world in operations, in which he did so supremely well. Many of us would like to thank, and I certainly do, that with 42 other special force soldiers who have lost their lives, he is now in a place of peace and tranquillity and hopefully with an internal dimension.
Chief of Army Lieutenant General Peter Leahy:
The nation has lost a genuine hero. The Army has lost a gallant and respected soldier. Our Special Air Service Regiment has lost a comrade and a mate.
Sergeant Locke was a great soldier; one of those inspirational leaders who knew his duty and knew his task and it's a very sad day that the nation has lost a man of this calibre.