Comrades of fallen soldiers were joined by representatives of the Estonian state, Estonian Defence Forces (EDF), the NATO battle group stationed in Tapa and the diplomatic corps in a ceremony held at the memorial in Paldiski dedicated to Estonian troops who lost their lives while serving on overseas missions.
Minister of Defence Jüri Ratas (IRL) recalled that the memorial in Paldiski was built by the comrades of fallen troops at a point in time when the mission had not yet been completed and they had to continue serving.
“The troops continued serving, keeping their fallen comrades in their thoughts,” Luik said. “But the fallen remain with us, and we are together with them. Their companions will never forget them. The Estonian people will never forget them. We are forever grateful to them.”
Wreaths were laid at the foot of the memorial on behalf of various Estonian leaders, the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF), and the Estonian Defence League, among others.
Following the ceremony, candles were lit in the school building of the Scouts Battalion in memory of the victims of the Kurkse Tragedy, in which 14 Estonian soldiers of the Baltic Battalion drowned in Kurkse Strait during a dangerous training maneuver on Sept. 11, 1997. The incident remains the deadliest accident to have occurred in the EDF since Estonia regained its independence in 1991.
The monument to fallen comrades was built in the Estonian subcamp at Camp Bastion (now Camp Shorabak) in Afghanistan in early October 2010. The monument remained at Camp Bastion until fall 2013, when the cross and nameplate bearing the names of nine soldiers to give up their lives in Afghanistan were removed and brought to Estonia by the troops to serve there from May through November of 2013.
There are nearly 2,800 veterans in Estonia, who have served in the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) and the Estonian Defence League.
Since 1995, Estonian troops have served on overseas missions in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon, Macedonia, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Mali, the Central African Republic as well as on the Gulf of Aden.