Family pay tribute to Suffolk airman

THE family of a Suffolk airman killed by a blast in Afghanistan has paid tribute to him as “the best son, brother and boyfriend any of us could ever have wished for.

THE family of a Suffolk airman killed by a blast in Afghanistan has paid tribute to him as “the best son, brother and boyfriend any of us could ever have wished for.”

Senior Aircraftman Luke Southgate, 20, from Bury St Edmunds, was serving with 2 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment, which is based at RAF Honington.

He was taking part in a vehicle-mounted patrol died as a result of injuries suffered in a blast north of Kandahar Airfield on Wednesday.

SAC Southgate was 12 days away from his 21st birthday. He had been looking forward to moving in with his girlfriend, Caley, and had ambitions to join the UK Special Forces


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His family said in a statement: “We cannot find the words to describe the tragic loss of our dear son Luke.

“He was the best son, brother and boyfriend any of us could ever have wished for. He died doing the job he loved and always wanted to do.

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“He will be in our hearts always and our thoughts forever.”

Comrades described the airman, who only deployed to Afghanistan in January, as a "rising star'.

Air Commodore Malcolm Brecht, Commander Kandahar Airfield, said: "An enthusiastic, loyal and dedicated member of the Royal Air Force Regiment, he was a willing volunteer for his tour of duty in Afghanistan and epitomised the very best the service represents - loyalty, respect, selflessness, service and excellence.'

Group Captain Jonathan Derbyshire, Deputy Commander Force Protection, described him as a "loyal comrade' who showed great potential

“He was rightly, but quietly, confident in his abilities. He was fiercely proud of his achievements and we all had high hopes for his future.”

Flying Officer Gary Butler, Officer Commanding D Flight, said: "He was an immensely capable Gunner, destined to become a rising star of the future.

“Physically and mentally robust, he set an example to all who knew and operated with him.'

Senior Aircraftman Jason Parker said: “I feel privileged to have called him my friend and he has left a void that cannot be filled.

“My love goes out to all his family and girlfriend.”

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said: “The death of Senior Aircraftman Luke Southgate came as very sad news to me.

“He was a young man who showed great promise as an airman and was a loyal comrade to his colleagues.

“He had already marked himself out as skilled soldier with leadership potential even before he deployed to Afghanistan.

“He died protecting Kandahar Airfield and those who use it from attack and his sacrifice will not be forgotten.

“My deepest condolences are with his family and friends at this time.”

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