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Kellie Merritt became Australia’s first Iraq service widow nine years ago. Her husband Flight Lieutenant Paul Pardoel was killed when the British Hercules he was on crashed in Iraq in January 2005.

Paul spent 14 years with the Royal Australian Air Force but the family decided to move to the United Kingdom where Paul would fly with the Royal Air Force. It was a decision that would change their young family forever.

“A friend of mine walked into the house and she said ‘there’s been a crash’,” Kellie said.

“I decided that I would tell the children because they were …