Friends, family and fellow sappers of a Launceston man, affectionately known as Akka, who died while deployed in Afghanistan in 2011, have unveiled a memorial at Kings Park.
More than 18 months' work went into the memorial, with a determined bunch of Richard Atkinson's mates working to get the Afghanistan Combat Engineers Memorial off the ground.
Akka's "flair for life" was at the forefront of the unveiling held on Wednesday. Those who knew him worked late into the night and early in the morning to make sure the finishing touches were on the memorial in time for Anzac Day.
Jamie Twidale was one of the 40 people that helped complete the project. He thanked Launceston's Tom Pedley and Johnno Morrison who gave their time to help build the memorial in their friend's honour.
"I only knew him a little bit, he served in my unit in Darwin and then he deployed overseas with a different unit," he said.
"I met Richard ... just before he left. He was very likeable and loved his footy, liked a laugh and loved baked beans, and in the memorial there is a tin of baked beans buried as well."
Mr Atkinson's brother, James, said the memorial meant a lot to his family.
"For me it's about returning here in the future, and not only remembering Richard, but also everyone else's sacrifice," he said.
"It's also about remembering that Richard used to live life to the full and it will remind me to do the same."
The memorial is part of a Bailey Bridge, which is used to protect and enable movement through battlefields.
At age 22, Corporal Atkinson was the first Tasmanian to be killed in Afghanistan. Part of his role was to find the bombs and make it safe for the rest of the infantry who were to follow and all the others who later trod the same ground, such as medics and other service personnel.
Friends, family and fellow sappers gathered at Kings Park, #Launceston today to unveil a memorial for Richard Atkinson. Those working on the memorial went late into the night and early this morning to put the finishing touches on the memorial ahead of #anzacday@ExaminerOnlinepic.twitter.com/bUYU6yhrv5— Tarlia Jordan (@tarliaj14) 24 April 2019
James Atkinson spoke on behalf of his parents at Wednesday's memorial unveiling.
"No one can ever ready themselves for the loss of a child, or the shock and profound sadness that is still with us today," he said.
"Time has allowed us to look back and celebrate Richard's short life and all he achieved.
"Many knew him... you too know what a wonderful young man he was and the great potential he had.
"Most of all, he was great fun to be around and lived life fully."
The Atkinson family thanked everyone involved in the project from its inception to the final few weeks of the build.
"It has been a big challenge for all involved and even for the last few weeks may have fallen over at the last hurdle," James said.