National’s Defence spokesperson Mark Mitchell has welcomed the repatriation of the remains of former New Zealand Defence Force personnel who died while serving overseas.

“This is an historic day for the families of fallen Defence Force personnel and for New Zealand.

“As the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade select committee that made the recommendation to the previous Government for repatriation, I’m sure I can speak on behalf of the Committee in saying how pleased we are for the families on this very special day.

“After decades of delay and advocacy by the families and former colleagues of the fallen soldiers, the decision was taken by the National-led Government to bring them home. I’m sure it will be an incredibly emotional day for all those involved.

“I was pleased to see that after questioning to the Minister of Defence, provisions were made for Veterans to pay their respects to their comrades, through a guard of honour.

“I wish to extend my heartfelt thoughts to the families of those welcoming home their loved ones today, and thank those currently serving in our Defence Forces, whether at home or abroad.”

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