Local News

Soldier death: family loses 'beautiful boy'

JASON CHALLIS SOLDIER MOUNT BUNDEY DEFENCE AAP

The devastated family of a young Australian soldier who was fatally shot in the head during a military drill in the Northern Territory will never forget his cheeky smile and loving spirit.

Private Jason Challis from Geelong, Victoria, was killed during live fire exercises at the Mount Bundey Training Area, about 100km southeast of Darwin, on Wednesday afternoon.

The digger, aged in his 20s, was treated at the scene and flown to a Darwin hospital, where he died of suspected heart failure.

"Our beautiful boy has gone," Private Challis' family said in a statement.

"His cheekiness and loving ways will stay with us forever."

They said Private Challis' personality delighted and brought people together.

"Everyone he met loved him ... Jason was the best son, step-son, brother and mate you could ever ask for," they said.

"Rest in peace, our darling Jason, we love you forever. Until we meet again."

The digger's platoon comrades have been praised for their efforts to save his life.

Veteran and federal Labor MP Luke Gosling said troops, combat medics and air medical staff never gave up on him.

"The soldier's mates responded immediately and superbly with first aid," he said.

Mr Gosling says those involved are receiving psychological and pastoral support.

"It's obviously very traumatic for them," Mr Gosling told AAP.

Craig Garraway from St John Ambulance NT said Mr Challis was suffering a cardiac arrest and major blood loss when he arrived at Royal Darwin Hospital around 2.30pm.

"I'm led to believe it was a gunshot wound to the head," he said.

The Australian Defence Force has suspended training activities for its combat brigades across the country to review training safety procedures.

It comes less than a week after a 21-year-old troop was killed by a falling tree branch during training near Rockhampton in Queensland.

Three Townsville soldiers were also injured earlier this month after the tank they were travelling in hit a tree.

© AAP

IMAGE AAP/DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE

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