Colchester: Soldier killed in ‘friendly fire’ incident is named

THE 23-year-old soldier killed in a suspected friendly fire incident in Afghanistan has been named by the Ministry of Defence.

Private John Howard, from 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, based in Colchester, was killed on Sunday.

The New Zealand-born soldier was serving with 16 Air Assault Brigade’s Reconnaissance Force on a patrol ten kilometres south west of the provincial capital of Helmand Province, Laskah Gar when he was fatally wounded.

He leaves behind his parents Roger and Anne, two sisters Charlotte and Isabella, and his girlfriend Sophie.

In a family statement released today, they said: “As a family we are absolutely devastated to lose our son, brother, grandson, nephew and cousin.

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“Jack was an immensely proud to be both a Para and a New Zealander. He was absolutely passionate about what he was doing. He was never prepared to accept less than the best and was always striving for the next challenge. His decision to try for the Paras, which he regarded as the foremost infantry regiment in the world, reflected this drive and passion.

“Jack came from a loving family, with a long military history. He was the fourth generation of our family to serve in the military.

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“Jack was well read and believed strongly in what he was doing. He had an understanding of the conflict he was engaged in and prepared his position robustly. However he never let his profession detract from his innate humanity.

“Jack died serving alongside some of the great friends he had made in the army.

“He comes from a strong and loving family and we miss him dearly.”

Lieutenant Colonel James Coates, Commanding Officer of 3 Para, said: “Private Jack Howard was the archetypal Paratrooper. Choosing to leave behind a life in his native New Zealand, he volunteered for the challenges of service in The Parachute Regiment and rose to those challenges time and time again. Jack was selected for service with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF) of 16 Air Assault Brigade and moved across to this elite unit from 3 PARA in July of this year.

“He had always aspired to serve in this role, very much in the vanguard of operations in Afghanistan, and he fulfilled his aspiration in spades. He was an exceptional operator and made a real impact on all those who had the pleasure to work with him. This was his second tour in Afghanistan.”

He added: “Where others might have chosen the easy option in life, Jack lived his dreams in full knowledge of the risks involved. He was a brave and utterly dependable man and a good friend to all. The Regiment has lost a rising star. Our thoughts and prayers are with his parents Roger and Anne and family at this distressing time. We pledge to remember him always and to honour his memory in all of our actions across Helmand over the coming months and beyond.

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