SAPPER Rowan Robinson will never return to Kingscliff, but he will always be remembered there as a lovable hero and a man who served his country with honour.
Sapper Robinson suffered a gunshot wound on Monday when a partnered special operations task group and Afghan National Security Forces team was engaged by insurgents.
He received immediate first-aid and was flown to the hospital facility at Multi National Base Tarin Kowt, but later died of his wounds.
Sapper Robinson was a 23-year-old specialist combat engineer from the Sydney-based Incident Response Regiment.
As a well-known athlete, exceptional student and member of the Cudgen Headland Surf Live Saving Club, Sapper Robinson left his mark on the seaside community.
Past and present teachers of Kingscliff High School, from which he graduated in 2005, remembered him as a well-liked student.
Retired Kingscliff High School teacher and Robinson family friend, John Waide, said the boy he watched grow up always knew he was destined to be a soldier.
“He was always a likable chap and he played football for us at school, he was an outstanding sportsman and a champion lad,” Mr Waide said.
“You always expect the brave and bold to give us their best and that was Rowan.
“My youngest son Luke was really good mates with him. It's disbelief everybody is feeling because he was so good at everything he did.
“He was looking forward to hopefully coming home in August. To finish an engineering degree.”
Mr Waide said Rowan's friends were shattered by the news of his death, but remembered him as a hero.
“We are all very proud of him. I have nothing but respect for Rowan and what he stood for,” Mr Waide said.
“He was a cheeky sort of lad in some ways, the girls all loved him. After his mum and dad moved to Townsville we would still see him and right from Year 11 he knew he was in the Army. He always knew that's what he wanted to do.”
Kingscliff High School vice-principal Stuart Cutcher added to the tributes.
“I would like to express my sympathies and condolences to Rowan's family and friends at his passing,” Mr Cutcher said.
“He was extremely well liked by students and teachers alike and he made wonderful contributions to our reputation.”
Kingscliff RSL sub-branch vice-president and Cudgen Headland Surf Club member Brian Vickery said the whole community was mourning.
“I can verify the feeling of sadness in the community today. I have been talking to many people who knew him and they are in disbelief by this tragic incident,” Mr Vickery said.
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