AFTER eight weeks of hearings, at a cost of more than $1 million, that have exposed the most painful and private secrets of Private Jake Kovco’s life, the inquest into his death yesterday vindicated the 2006 military inquiry verdict that he died while”skylarking”.
The military inquest sorted out all the problems associated with Kovco’s repatriation to Australia and the ADF have put in place measures to ensure it performs better should a similar incidence happen again. Although there would not have been any experience base left after more than thirty years without fatalities the ADF should have foreseen and been prepared for the obvious.
In all my time in the army I never came across an original problem. Somewhere in the files there was always a paper or SOP laying down procedure and no doubt with over 500 bodies repatriated from Vietnam a similar answer would have existed.
The lessons learned, or rather relearned, have already been turned into procedure so all this latest inquest has done is to bring into the open things that should’ve been left unsaid. The widow does not need to have her husbands imperfections underlined and nor does the nation need to know he was somewhat cavalier with weapons.
Lots of soldiers die in a war zone and not all of them from enemy action and often enough, in our long military history, soldiers have died by their own hand; either deliberately or accidentally. Drawn out public inquests, seemingly hunting down witches, prove little once second parties have been eliminated.
Mrs Kovko needs to get on with her life remembering the best of her husband and forgetting the painful and private secrets raised as people sought a darker side to what already was a tragedy.
We need to let the poor man rest in peace and to let his wife and kids live on in peace.