Town mourns loss of Suffolk airman

A TOWN was in mourning last night after one of its young residents was killed in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan.

A TOWN was in mourning last night after one of its young residents was killed in an explosion while serving in Afghanistan.

The airman, who is believed to be in his 20s and from Bury St Edmunds, died on Wednesday following an explosion north of Kandahar Airfield.

He was part of the RAF Honington-based 2 Squadron RAF Regiment and had only been in Afghanistan for a little over a month.

The Ministry of Defence said the gunner was part of a vehicle mounted patrol when there was an explosion. He died as a result of his wounds.

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The death comes just weeks after 23-year-old Lance Corporal Adam Drane, of Stanningfield, and Private Robert Hayes, of Burwell, lost their lives in whilst serving with the Bury-based Royal Anglian Regiment.

Civic leaders in Bury last night paid tribute to the young gunner and told how the work of the armed forces was something appreciated greatly in the town.

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Former mayor of both Bury St Edmunds and St Edmundsbury Bob Cockle said: “During my mayoral years we were very proud to be associated with the RAF Regiment.

“We feel for the family concerned - it is a terrible blow. The hurt and the pain and the grief must be overwhelming.

“The only thing we can say is that we do appreciate what the regiment does in looking after the safety of us all.”

Air Marshall Sir Reginald Harland, president of the Bury St Edmunds Society, said it was vital that the families of those killed or injured were looked after and that servicemen and women were treated with the respect they deserved.

Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lieutenant Colonel David Wakefield, said: “He was on a mobile patrol in an area about four kilometres north of Kandahar Airfield when the explosion happened.

“He died doing his duty and among his fellow airmen; his sacrifice will not be forgotten.”

This death is not connected to Operation Moshtarak currently underway in the Helmand Province.

The young man's next of kin have been informed.

Nobody from RAF Honington was yesterday able to comment on the death -because the gunner's family has asked for a 24-hour period of grace to be observed - but it is understood there was a sombre mood at the base, where the flag was flown at half mast.

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