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‘A great New Zealander, a tragic death’

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‘A great New Zealander, a tragic death’

The father of the Defence Force helicopter pilot killed while fighting fires in Christchurch’s Port Hills remembers him as a “hero”.

Speaking to Newshub, Paul Askin said Corporal David Steven Askin, known as Steve, was a “son, a father, a husband and a hero in our family”.

Cpl Askin was a former SAS soldier who was awarded the Gallantry Star for his actions in a firefight at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul in 2011.

The 38-year-old from Waimakariri died when the helicopter he was piloting crashed on Tuesday afternoon.

Chief of Army Major General Peter Kelly says Cpl Askin says he was helping the firefighting efforts the same way as he served in the Army.

“He was an outstanding soldier who served his country with bravery and commitment – the same bravery and commitment he showed in helping his community fight these fires.

“Our thoughts are with his family, friends and comrades at this time,” Maj Gen Kelly says.

Way to Go Heliservices Ltd principal Rob Kittow says Askin was a “much-loved and vital member” of the helicopter team.

“Steve has always served his community, either with his career in the military or as yesterday when he was fighting the Port Hills fire,” he says.

“[He] loved New Zealand and the outdoors. He was an inspiration to other staff with his professionalism and dedication to duty.”

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee had a message for Cpl Askin’s family: “We all share the sadness to an extent. They of course will feel it far more acutely than we do.

“This guy’s one of New Zealand’s heroes, there’s no doubt about that. And for him to have lost his life trying to save other lives as he effectively was is a bit of a metaphor for the whole life that he’s lived – a great New Zealander, a tragic death.”

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