A Tribute To Andy Forster
(Flight Sergeant - RNZAF)

This page is dedicated to the memory of my very good friend Andy Forster. Andy served with the Royal New Zealand Air Force as an Armourer and was working as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Operator when he was killed while marking an unexploded artillery shell (a blind) in the Waiouru Military Training Area on November 19th 2009.

Andy was my closest friend from the 10 years I spent in the New Zealand airforce and we remained in regular contact in the years after I left. We (mis)spent some of the best years of our youth together and our friendship continued over the years as we and our families grew.

Andy loved his job and was a true professional in every sense of the word. It is a measure of his abilities and skills that in the month preceeding his death Andy had been accepted into the NZ Special Air Service to work in the recently established NZSAS EOD Squadron.

The exact reason why the blind detonated is not known but dealing with unexploded and potentially unstable ordnance is inherently dangerous and Andy knew the risks. He worked hard to ensure he and his colleagues were exposed to the least amount of danger at any time. Whatever caused the accident must have been an extremely unusual set of circumstances.

His loss came as a great shock to Andy's family and friends and I have added this page to commemorate his life.

In memory of my very good friend Andy Forster.

As befitting a serviceman killed on active duty, Andy was honoured with a full military funeral.
As well as Andy's family, other guests in attendance included the Prime Minister of New Zealand,
the Minister for Defence and the Chief of Defence Staff.

Andy had served with the NZ Defence Force for nearly three decades and was a popular and well known senior NCO.
These images hopefully convey something of the emotion of the service.

After the service Andy's coffin was marched to the base chapel so people could pay their respects.

A formal military salute to a great man.

A less formal salute by those who knew and worked with Andy.

The Armourers Ode.

Andy doing what he did best (above and below) during his deployment to Afghanistan.

Andy's deployment spanned an Afghan winter.

Training prior to deployment.

A devoted family man, Andy adored his family and loved spending time just fooling around.
(Hence the not so serious pose staring off into the distance above.)

A final photo of a much younger Andy just prior to a flight in a RNZAF Skyhawk.
I think Andy was serving on 2 Squadron at the time.
Getting a ride in a Skyhawk was a fairly rare and much coveted privilege for ground crew.

I read the following eulogy at Andy's funeral.
It is from the movie "Waking Ned Devine" and I thought the words particularly apt.


Andy Forster was my great friend,
but I don't ever remember telling him that.

The words that are spoken at a funeral,
are spoken too late for the man that has passed.

What a wonderful thing it would be to visit your own funeral,
to sit at the front and hear what was said,
maybe to say a few things yourself.

Andy and I grew old together
but at times, when we laughed, we grew young.

If he was here now,
if he could hear what I say,
I'd congratulate him on being a great man,
and thank him for being a great friend.