PRIME Minister John Key will attend his son’s baseball trip to the United States instead of going to the commemorative service for the two soldiers killed in Afghanistan on Saturday.
Mr Key said it was a tough decision.
“I have got to let somebody down,” Fairfax NZ reported him as saying.
“But my son makes huge sacrifices for me and my job and in the final analysis I thought it was the right thing to do.”
Mr Key visited the families of the dead soldiers – Lance Corporals Pralli Durrer and Rory Malone – to explain why he would not be at the service.
The pair were killed in a clash with insurgents in Bamiyan province.
His son, Max, is a member of the New Zealand under-17 baseball team which is heading to Bangor, Maine.
It is the first time a NZ team has been represented at the Senior League World Series.
Bill English, who will be acting PM when Mr Key is out of the country, would represent the Government at the service at Burnham Military Camp tomorrow.
Labour leader David Shearer said he would attend, but would not comment on Mr Key’s choice.
Meanwhile, there were emotional scenes upon the arrival of the soldiers’ bodies last night.
A Ramp Ceremony was held at Christchurch International Airport as the bodies of Durrer, of Christchurch, and Malone, from Auckland, arrived back on home soil.
Their families were the first to be invited onboard the United States Air Force C-17 after the plane touched down.
Army personnel decorated the soldiers’ caskets, and their respective units performed a haka as they were carried across the tarmac to the waiting hearse.