UPDATE 2.45pm: NORTHERN Rivers residents have opened their hearts to the family of Afghanistan veteran, Sapper David Wood, whose body was found near his home at Casino at the weekend.
Scores of people have gone to The Northern Star's Facebook page to comment on the passing of Spr Wood, with some backing comments by the digger's grandfather, Roger Wood, saying the soldier should be considered the latest Australian casualty of the war in Afghanistan.
Others have simply commented to offer their sympathies with a respectful "RIP" or acknowledge the horrors faced by Spr Wood and other soldiers fighting for their country in Afghanistan.
"I'm so sorry to hear. I was praying for the best," posted one commenter.
"I couldn't imagine what they see over there but my brother has served and told me of little things he seen in day to day life..... I'm sure he only told me bits he thought were 'tame'.... I'm sure these soldiers see far more then we will ever know. I think a hard heart is required and David's heart must of let it all in.
"Rest easy and thank you for what you did for us over seas and what you sacrificed."
Read more comments or add your own on The Northern Star's Facebook page.
6am: A CASINO man whose body was found at the weekend, more than a week after he disappeared is the latest Australian casualty from the conflict in Afghanistan, the man's grandfather has said.
The Northern Star yesterday reported police believed a body found in bushland at Casino was that of Sapper David Wood, who went missing on May 22.
Spr Wood, 22, joined the Defence Force five years ago and served two tours in Afghanistan with the Australian Army as a combat engineer.
His grandfather, Coraki radio station 88.9FM owner and former Richmond Valley councillor Roger Wood said Spr Wood had been treated for depression since returning from his last tour of service in Afghanistan and his family had been worried about him suffering post traumatic stress syndrome before he disappeared.
He was suffering post traumatic stress syndrome, and bad mental health is as bad as physical wounds, as especially in this case it's had the same end result
"I want people to know that David is the 40th Aussie Digger to have died from the Afghanistan conflict," Mr Wood said.
"He was suffering post traumatic stress syndrome, and bad mental health is as bad as physical wounds, as especially in this case it's had the same end result."
The discovery of Spr Wood's body came after more than a week of intense searching by police, national park and state forest rangers, and volunteers, including members of Spr Wood's unit, who were released from their other duties so they could join the search. When possible sightings were reported over the border, the Queensland police joined the search too.
However, Spr Wood was finally found close to home - in bushland near his home at Casino's Durack Court - early on Saturday afternoon.
Roger Wood said he had been stunned at the level of awareness in the community about Spr Wood's disappearance.
"We had flyers printed up and went to Grafton to hand them out," he said.
"Every roadhouse, every truck stop and every servo we stopped at, as soon as I handed out the flyer people would say 'Oh, that's David, yeah I read about him on Facebook'."
"I just want to say a big thankyou to all David's Facebook fans, the police and rangers in the state forests and national parks between Casino and Tenterfield," Mr Wood said.
"Also, the army allowed members of David's unit to break from their duties and they spent more than a week searching for him.
"It goes to show there is a huge network of decent Aussies out there and it's good that Australia supports its soldiers."
While a formal identification was still to take place, a report for the coroner was being prepared, with police saying the death was not considered suspicious.
Waiting for the official identification was extremely painful for the family, Mr Wood said
"We all know it's David, but waiting for the medical evidence is like twisting the knife in; just not knowing for certain," he said.