Deadliest Afghan day claims two Diggers Brendan Nicholson, The Australian June 09, 2010 12:00AM TWO young Australian combat engineers on their first deployment in Afghanistan have been killed by a bomb in the army's worst combat loss in a single day since the Vietnam War. A bomb detonated during a patrol on Monday morning, killing Sapper Jacob Moerland, 21, and Sapper Darren Smith, 26, both from the Brisbane-based 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment. Sapper Smith's bomb-detection dog, Herbie, was also killed in the blast. The engineers were on foot patrol in the Mirabad Valley region of Oruzgan province in the country's south on what acting Chief of the Defence Force Lieutenant General David Hurley described as a "tough day". But Kevin Rudd said there would be no withdrawal from Afghanistan and Defence Minister John Faulkner warned that there was likely to be tough fighting ahead. "It . . . is important to ensure that Afghanistan does not return to an operating base for terrorists around the world," Mr Rudd said. Acting Defence Minister Greg Combet said one of the men had been killed instantly and the other had died from his injuries later at their base medical centre. "I would like to express my sincere condolences to the families of these soldiers," Mr Combet said. "Their death is a great loss." In a bloody day in Afghanistan, eight other soldiers from the NATO-led coalition were killed, seven of them Americans. More than half of the 13 Australians killed in Afghanistan and the vast majority of the 126 wounded there have been hit in blasts from improvised bombs. An army weapons intelligence team was sent to the area to find out how the explosive was triggered, whether the soldiers were trying to defuse the bomb and whether the Australians were lured into a Taliban trap. Taliban tactics have become increasingly sophisticated, with some bombs detonated by insurgents watching from a distance. The soldiers were members of Australia's Mentoring Task Force, which is training an Afghan National Army brigade. Australia last experienced multiple fatalities in action in Vietnam on September 20, 1971, when five soldiers from the composite battalion 4RAR/NZ, four of them national servicemen, died in a close-quarters battle with North Vietnamese forces. That was the last major clash of Australia's war in Vietnam. Sapper Moerland's mother, Sandra, and his sisters, Bethany and Laura, issued a statement saying they wanted all Australians to know how proud Jacob was to serve his country. "Jacob wanted to join the army from an early age and he loved his mates and his job," they said. Mrs Moerland said: "I have never seen Jacob so happy as during his march-out parade. "Jacob died doing the job he loved, and he went to Afghanistan not because he had to but because he thought it was a valuable job to help the people in Afghanistan. I am so proud of my son Jacob. I love him and miss him very much." Angela Smith said her husband, Darren, was a loving and remarkable person. "This is a very difficult time for us all as we struggle to come to terms with Darren's loss yesterday," Mrs Smith said. "Darren was a very loving husband and father, an absolutely remarkable human being. "He was very passionate about his job and understood the risks involved, but he was the sort of man who always put others first and did his best for them, whether it was his mates in the army or at home with his family and friends." She added that Darren had "a special relationship with his working dog, Herbie". Mr Rudd expressed his condolences to the families and said the deaths of the two men were a sobering reminder that Australians were fighting a terrible and dangerous enemy. But he said the government's resolve to stay in Afghanistan remained firm. "We must complete the mission we have set ourselves," Mr Rudd said. Retired major general Jim Molan, the former chief of operations in Iraq, said the war could be won but Australia needed to send more troops. Senator Faulkner, who was in Pakistan, said the men and women of the ADF faced hazardous duty every day to ensure their fellow Australians were safe from the threat of international terrorism. He warned it was possible they could face a particularly violent period ahead. "I can only say to you that Australian troops, like other (international) forces, are at great risk," Senator Faulkner told the ABC. Counting the cost Australian soldiers who have died in Afghanistan 2010 * June 7 Sappers Darren Smith, 25, and Jacob Moerland, 21, members of the Brisbane-based 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment attached to the Mentoring Task Force, died from wounds sustained when an IED detonated as they conducted a foot patrol in the restive Mirabad Valley, east of Tarin Kowt 2009 * July 18 Private Benjamin Ranaudo, killed in an IED blast during an operation in the Baluchi Valley, 25km north-east of Tarin Kowt * March 19 Sergeant Brett Till, Incident Response Regiment, killed by a blast during route clearance operation * March 16 Corporal Mathew Hopkins, 7th Battalion RAR, killed during an engagement with the Taliban near the village of Kakarak, 12km north of Tarin Kowt * January 4 South African-born Private Gregory Michael Sher, 30, from the Sydney-based 1st Commando Regiment, is killed as a result of indirect rocket attack in Oruzgan province 2008 * November 27 Lieutenant Michael Fussell, 25, from Sydney-based 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, is killed during an operation against Taliban insurgents in Oruzgan province after an improvised explosive device was detonated * July 8 New Zealand-born Signaller Sean McCarthy, 25, from Perth-based Special Air Service Regiment, is killed after being wounded by an improvised explosive device. Two other Australian soldiers are wounded * April 27 Lance Corporal Jason Marks, 27, from 4RAR commando unit in Sydney, is killed in a battle with Taliban fighters in Oruzgan province. Four other commandos are wounded 2007 * November 23 Private Luke Worsley, 26, from 4RAR commando unit in Sydney, is killed in a battle with Taliban fighters in Oruzgan province * October 25 SAS Sergeant Matthew Locke is killed by Taliban fighters in Oruzgan province * October 8 Trooper David Pearce, 41, is killed and another soldier seriously injured in a roadside bomb attack in Oruzgan province 2002 * February 16 Sergeant Andrew Russell, 33, is killed when his vehicle strikes a landmine in southern Afghanistan Deadliest Afghan day claims two Diggers | The Australian Fallen Diggers return home on Sunday June 11, 2010 2:29PM THE bodies of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan this week will return to Australia on Sunday morning. A RAAF transport aircraft carrying the remains of Sappers Jacob Moerland, 21, and Darren Smith, 25, will touch down at RAAF base Amberley in Canberra for the traditional ramp ceremony. Sappers Moerland and Smith, both members of the Brisbane-based 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment, died when an insurgent improvised explosive device detonated during an operation on Monday. Explosives sniffer dog Herbie was also killed. Their deaths took the Australian casualty toll for Afghanistan to 13 since 2002. This was also the first time Australia has suffered multiple combat casualties since the Vietnam War. As well as family members, the returning home ceremony will be attended by Defence Minister John Faulkner, Defence head Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, Army Chief Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie and Opposition Defence personnel spokesman Bob Baldwin. Funeral services for the two soldiers are likely to be held next week. Fallen Diggers return home on Sunday | The Australian Lest We Forget, indeed.