The helicopter pilot who died while fighting fires on the Port Hills helped in the aftermath of November’s Kaikoura earthquake.
David Askin, an ex-SAS serviceman known as Steve, was killed yesterday while dumping monsoon buckets on the flames that had engulfed 600ha of land.
He worked for Way to Go Heliservices and died at the scene.
Way to Go Heliservices principal Rob Kittow said Mr Askin had been involved with helicopter fire fighting for a long time, and helped in the aftermath of the Kaikoura 7.8 magnitude.
“Steve was heavily involved in helping the Kaikoura community following last year’s earthquake, flying electricity workers into the back country as they worked to restore power to the cut off community.”
Mr Kittow said Mr Askin had always served his community and loved the outdoors.
“Steve had responded with his machine when the alarm was first raised on Monday night to protect the threatened properties and had returned yesterday morning to help fight the fire.”
Mr Kittow said he was a much loved and vital member of the team after joining in 2008, and always exemplified the attitude of the quiet professional.
Mr Askin was involved in the Flock Hill fire two years ago, and the Broken River fire over Waitangi weekend.
“He was an inspiration to other staff with his professionalism and dedication to duty.”
Mr Kittow said the company’s immediate priority was to support Mr Askin’s family, friends and colleagues.
Known as Steve to his mates, he along with at least three other SAS members, engaged in a five-hour firefight against the Taliban in Afganistan, Fairfax reports.
Wayne Mapp, the Defence Minister at the time, said the Kiwi soldiers were called in to help the Afghan Police when the Taliban stormed the InterContinental Hotel in Kabul in 2011.
Ten people died in the confrontation and Askin was reportedly hurt.
A press photo of four SAS serviceman taken outside the InterContinental as they left the battle, showed one man, believed to be Askin, with his helmet off and a cut down the right side of his face.
Since returning to New Zealand and retiring from the armed forces Mr Askin worked as a pilot at Christchurch-based Way To Go Heliservices since 2008.
Scores of Askin’s friends who appeared to have served in the army with him have shared a New Zealand Herald cartoon of a fallen soldier on Facebook in tribute to their fallen mate.
The cartoon, by Rod Emmerson, depicts a Kiwi soldier with his head bowed in front of a white cross. The image is captioned: “He who dares nothing need hope for nothing but he who dares wins”.
The New Zealand Herald originally published the cartoon in September 2011 to pay homage to a Kiwi soldier killed in action