A solider in heart and soul

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The new commander-in-chief talks about how his son would have wanted him to continue with the Afghanistan mission.

23 April 2008

THE NETHERLANDS - In General Peter van Uhm's first press conference since taking over as commander-in-chief on Thursday, he talked about the Afghanistan and the grief of losing his son.

The general’s son, Lieutenant Dennis van Uhm, was killed on Friday. The lieutenant and another soldier were killed and two others were injured while they were on patrol in the Afghan province of Uruzgan.

Headlines of Dutch newspapers today carried headlines on how the general remains strong in spite of his grief.

NRC.next's front-page headline is, "The father grieves, the general fights on".

De Telegraaf leads with "Van Uhm refuses to quit ", while AD goes with, "I'm staying, that's what Dennis would have wanted".

NRC.next writes that you could hear a pin drop as the general said, "I sit before you as both father and commander-in-chief".

NRC.next reports that most of the journalists began their questions with, "you don't have to answer this if you don't want to or if it is too difficult" but that the general answered the questions in order to "let everybody know that we are going to continue with this mission".

General Van Uhm said his son Dennis was "a soldier in heart and soul" and "a firm believer in the Dutch mission to Uruzgan".

The general added that "he wouldn't have wanted me to sit in the corner and grieve". He continued, "my son believed, and I still believe, that this mission is important. We're doing it for the Afghan people, to give them a better future".

[Radio Netherlands / Jacqueline Carver / Expatica]

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