SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – A small community in New Zealand is mourning the loss of an Israeli soldier killed in action in Gaza.

Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland, 21, was killed Friday trying to raze tunnels in Gaza. He was laid to rest at his home Sunday on Kibbutz Ginosar in the Galilee.

Boyland was born in Taupo, a small lakeside community in New Zealand’s north island.

His non-Jewish father Glenn married his Jewish-Israeli mother Adva, and the family moved to Israel when Guy was five.

His 90-year-old grandfather, Jim Boyland, said the extended family was grieving the loss of the ginger-haired, guitar-playing kid from New Zealand.

“He was very gregarious,” he said. “He never knew what life was all about, he never lived like an ordinary child. But he was very patriotic and wanted to be in the bomb squad.”

He said Guy, who was just four months away from finishing his service as a combat engineer, had only returned to New Zealand once – about three years ago just before he was conscripted. “Glenn will stay there. They won’t leave their son behind; they’re committed to staying there in Israel.”

A Facebook page was established in memory of Boyland. “We deeply appreciate the love and concern that help to shed a fraction of light upon these dark times,” his sister, Kim, who served in the Israeli Air Force, wrote on her Facebook page. “Thank you so much.”