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Tributes paid to Colchester-based sergeant killed in Syrian bomb blast

PUBLISHED: 17:29 31 March 2018 | UPDATED: 11:01 01 April 2018

Matt Tonroe died on Thursday in Syria. Picture: MOD

Matt Tonroe died on Thursday in Syria. Picture: MOD

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Sergeant Matt Tonroe was killed while on an anti-Islamic State operation in Syria on Thursday.

Tributes have been pouring in for Sgt Tonroe after news of his death yesterday.

Sgt Tonroe was part of the 3rd Battalion The Pararchute Regiment who are based in Colchester, yesterday the MOD confirmed that he had died on duty in the Middle East.

“It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Sergeant Matt Tonroe from the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment was tragically killed in action whilst on duty in the Middle East on the 29th March 2018.

“Our thoughts are with Sgt Tonroe’s family and friends at this time.

“Matt was very much a family man, making every effort to see his beloved mum around numerous overseas deployments. He is survived by his mother Michelle, his brother Alex and girlfriend Olivia.”

Colchester MP Will Quince was amongst those paying tribute.

Mr Quince said on Facebook: “Very sad to hear that we have lost one of Colchester’s finest, Sergeant Matt Tonroe of 3 Para was killed in action on duty in the Middle East. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time. RIP‬”

The MOD also paid tribute to Sgt Tonroe: “He rapidly developed an array of competencies and combat experiences that were to lay the foundations of an outstanding career.

“During his service, Matt deployed numerous times on operations to Afghanistan and the Middle East. His distinguished service reflected a man that was happiest when professionally tested on operations. He relished responsibility, the opportunity to contribute and when the time came, to lead. He was a natural in this role.

“Matt was also a capable and respected parachutist. As a gifted instructor he was free with his time and his advice, and would dedicate himself to support and develop this skill in others.

“He was well known within his unit, well-liked by all and he will be sorely missed. When talking of Matt, his colleagues recount his humour, mischief andendless endeavours. Laid back, but a consummate professional, Matt was utterly selfless and always strived to achieve excellence.

Sgt Tonroe’s Officer Commanding said: “If you had met Matt Tonroe, then you would have liked him. He bristled with the contentment of a life lived to its full.

“His bravery and talent as a solider was matched by his compassion as a human being. He was an individual, with the courage to set his own course, and the perspective to see new possibilities at every turn.

“He was destined for great things in our unit; his leadership was both natural and apparently effortless.

“He is already missed. Without Matt, our company has lost some of its humour; some of its warmth; and some of its sheer opportunism. We will always remember him.”

Sgt Tonroe’s Commanding Officer added: “Matt Tonroe was a deeply intelligent man and one of life’s characters. He was a caring and considerate soul, a loving and dutiful son, and a friend to many.

“Yet he had a steel core, served his country with pride and was a first class soldier, proven in combat, faced risk willingly and was ever ready for more. He thus died as he lived: daring and fearless in duty. We mourn his loss dearly, are proud to have known him and will honour him by continuing this fight.”

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Sergeant Matt Tonroe at this dreadful time.

“Sergeant Tonroe served his country with great distinction and it is clear from the tributes made by his colleagues that he was not only exceptionally dedicated and courageous but also a gifted and intelligent instructor who was respected by everyone he served with.

“Sergeant Tonroe fought to protect British values, our freedoms and to keep us back at home safe. His sacrifice, unflinching commitment and bravery will never be forgotten.”

Colin Shead from Essex Police said on Twitter: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, colleagues and friends Sergeant Matt Tonroe from the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment who sadly lost his life in Syria on Thursday.

“May he rest in peace. Thank you for your service.”

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