A Kiwi soldier working for a private security firm in Iraq has been killed in an attack on the convoy he was being paid to escort.
Steve Gilchrist, 33, was killed instantly when the armoured vehicle he was travelling in was hit by an armour-piercing shell as he was escorting a convoy of trucks.
Originally from Waikato, Gilchrist spent 10 years in the army's infantry and served in East Timor. He left in 2001 as a corporal and moved to Brisbane. He joined the Australian army before picking up work in Iraq.
Gilchrist's wife Sarah, speaking from Queensland, said she did not want to comment. "I understand the interest in it, and I do understand that people 'need to know' but really at the end of the day he was doing his job, and now he's dead and there's nothing anyone can do about that." She said she was keeping it together, but when his body arrived home, she expected to go to pieces.
Gilchrist was working for Armor-Group and was one of an estimated 500 New Zealanders working in Iraq, many for the private British security firm. Gilchrist is the third New Zealander killed in Iraq and the second private security employee. Te Ina Marokura Ngamata, 37, was killed in Baghdad in August. The vehicle he was in was transporting foreign workers for ArmorGroup. In May 2004, John Robert Tyrrell died from an attack in Baghdad.
Chris Lawton of Auckland's C4 International security company, which trains New Zealanders heading to Iraq, said the danger was greater, and many Kiwis were leaving.
Salaries were dropping from up to NZ$990 to NZ$495 per day. "A lot of Kiwi guys are back in New Zealand now and would not go and work for that kind of money."