Link to initial article) was killed in Kuwait on the 12th of March 2001. It doesn't seem like nine years ago to me, but no doubt his family will attest to the passing of time.
John was a friend of mine. It shocked us all that he was killed on a training exercise by an American bomb. Could have happened to anyone in a simialr training activity! Whilst it was pretty random, I guess you have to remember that calling in close air support from a fast jet is tricky and risky. Yet this was an essential skill for someone in Johns role to know.
John was a good southern man. He had West Coast blood in his veins and was academically gifted. He had attended St Andrews College and was a graduate of the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Royal Military College (Duntroon) where New Zealand sends a handful of trainees each year. He was very fit, a mad man on the rugby paddock and well liked. He had been with the New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS) for a short period of time only before his posting to Kuwait. This picture shows him sitting in the cockpit of an American Apache helicopter shortly before his death, a man always eager to learn and explore!.
I got to know his family well in the days after his death as I worked to help manage the media interest in the story as the NZ Army got him home to his family. His funeral was huge and it reflected his life. Packed with family, fitness, lots of sport, friends, hunting, the outdoors and a pursuit of adventure. His father Goodwin was a pioneer of the early helicopter deer catching days in Westland (a daredevil in his time) and his mother Mary was lovely, so strong and full of love for her son. Both were amazing in their ability to accept and forgive the cause of the accident.
As ANZAC day looms, I always remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of their country. In Johnny's case it was a friendly bomb and a bad mistake, but he died on active duty and training so as to excel in his chosen profession of arms.
John McNutt is and will remain well remembered.
Other ANZAC Tributes and Yarns;
The Ted d'Augvergne "Bottle in the Hotel" story.
Who the Hell is Private David Nelson Wright?