Anglian soldier dies after Afghan explosion

AN East Anglian soldier has died after an explosion in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence confirmed today.

AN East Anglian soldier has died after an explosion in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence confirmed today.

Corporal Loren Owen Christopher Marlton-Thomas from 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD) was seriously injured as he was clearing explosive devices near Patrol Base Sandford, in the Gereshk area of Helmand province on Sunday.

He died on Monday.

The 28-year-old, who joined the army in 1998, was from Braintree.

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Paying tribute, his grieving wife Nicola said: “"Loren was Army-barmy right back to being a Cadet. He did the job he loved and paid the ultimate price for his friends, comrades and country.

“We are proud to say we knew and loved him. A true hero in our eyes - you may be gone but you will never ever be forgotten.”

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Lieutenant Colonel David Southall, Royal Engineers, Commanding Officer 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD), said: “Cpl Loren Marlton-Thomas was a man of great courage and commitment, a gifted Junior NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) who was truly passionate about his profession.

“He revelled in his Search Team Commander role, with skills honed on operations in both Northern Ireland and Iraq. 'Loz' was one of life's optimists who always led from the front; whatever the challenge, you would always find him right in the thick of it.

“His role, in leading teams to find Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), was undeniably amongst the toughest in Helmand province. Despite this, Loz was one of the most irrepressible and positive Junior Commanders I have met.

“With a smile on his face, his natural charm, confidence and soldiering skill meant men followed him instinctively.

“Loz made the ultimate sacrifice whilst striving to rid Afghanistan of IEDs and make the country a safer place for both our troops and the Afghan people. Our thoughts are with his wife, Nicola, and family; we share their grief. Loz will not be forgotten.”

Lieutenant Fran Rizzuti, Royal Engineers, Troop Commander, Joint Force EOD Group, added: “Corporal Marlton-Thomas had a beaming smile and it was a feature that conveyed his immense enthusiasm for a job that he truly loved.

“Although we had only worked together for a short period, it was obvious to me that as a Search Team Commander he was second-to-none. He spoke of his wife, Nicola, often and it was clear that he was a proud and devoted husband.

“Corporal Marlton-Thomas was a fountain of knowledge, a man of many talents, who had a genuine aptitude for soldiering. I am honoured and proud to have known him as both a colleague and indeed a friend. My only regret is that our paths did not cross sooner.”

Secretary of State for Defence, Bob Ainsworth, said: “I was very sorry to learn of the death of Corporal Loren Marlton-Thomas, an experienced and courageous soldier who had demonstrated his capability and commitment in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was a skilled engineer and a first rate soldier, and highly respected by the men he led.

“His work in Afghanistan saved lives and his death is a huge loss to the Royal Engineers and to the Army. It is, of course, his family who will feel the greatest loss at this time, and it is with them that my deepest sympathies lie.”

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