Army pays tribute to fallen paratroopers

A SENIOR army officer has said it has been an “arduous week” for the Army following the deaths of two more paratroopers in Afghanistan.

James Hore

A SENIOR army officer has said it has been an “arduous week” for the Army following the deaths of two more paratroopers in Afghanistan.

Major Aidan Coogan was speaking after the two separate deaths of the men from 2 PARA Battlegroup.

One of the men was killed during a firefight in Helmand province and the second - a reservist from the Territorial Army - died while checking for mines in the Upper Sangin Valley.

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Speaking at the regimental headquarters of the Parachute Association, Major Coogan confirmed the reservist who died had been on operations with Colchester-based 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment.

He said: “It is again with much regret that I am here this morning to make a statement regarding the deaths of two further paratroopers from 2 PARA Battlegroup who were killed in action yesterday during continuing operations in Afghanistan.

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“At this time, during a very difficult week, all our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends and colleagues of all those who have been killed.

“We wish to emphasise that one of the soldiers was a member of our Reserve Battalion and this demonstrates again the huge contribution that the Territorial Army are playing in support of the regular army.

“2 PARA continue to conduct operations in the most difficult and demanding of theatres.

“Much has been made by the media of the fact that it was the worst week for the regiment since the Falklands Campaign.

“It is therefore appropriate to remember that it was this campaign that was the inspiration for many of our current soldiers to join the Parachute Regiment.

“It was the ethos, the courage and bravery of the soldiers then that they aspire to now and it is to their testament that today they have not failed to conduct themselves to the same standards.

“This is an arduous week for the regiment as we continue to take casualties and conduct the funerals of our soldiers recently lost in action.

“I want to conclude here today by paying a tribute to the families of those lost, whose courage, bravery and sacrifice has been equal to that of our soldiers on the ground and it is, without doubt, an example to us all.”

Major Coogan confirmed that all the reservists carry out part of their training in Colchester.

A Ministry of Defence statement today confirmed: “It is with great sadness that the MOD must confirm the death of a British soldier from 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment in Afghanistan yesterday.

“At approx 1500 hours the soldier, who was attached to 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, was dismounted from his vehicle checking for mines in the Upper Sangin Valley when he was killed by a suspected IED explosion.

“No one else was injured in the incident. The soldier's next of kin have been informed and have requested a 24 hour period of grace before further details are released.”

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