Tragic twist in soldier death

A COLCHESTER-based soldier killed on duty in Afghanistan had been scheduled to leave the front-line the day before he died, it has emerged.

James Hore

A COLCHESTER-based soldier killed on duty in Afghanistan had been scheduled to leave the front-line the day before he died, it has emerged.

Lance Corporal Kenneth Michael Rowe of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, attached to 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment,

Died, along with his dog, Sasha.

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The 24-year-old had been concerned about the lack of cover after he left, so asked senior officers if he could remain.

L-Cpl Rowe had been involved in an operation to tackle the Taliban on Thursday evening, with the aim of preventing a security threat in the Helmand River Valley, close to their base.

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His role as an ammunition and explosives search dog handler was “integral” to the work of 2 Para and often placed him in high risk situations.

L-Cpl Rowe and Sasha died after coming under Taliban fire they carried out a search operation.

Tributes have been paid to the dedication of L-Cpl Rowe, who was the ninth Colchester-based soldier to lose his life in Afghanistan in the past two months.

His company commander with 2 Para, Major Stuart McDonald, said: “This was the third operation in which I had the pleasure to work with L-Cpl Rowe and as always, his humour, energy and good banter all made the job that little bit more bearable.

“He was actually scheduled to leave forward operating base (FOB) Inkerman on July 23, but was concerned about the lack of ammunition and explosives search cover if he departed and lobbied his unit to allow him to stay; this unselfish action epitomised his professionalism and dedication to his job.

“I feel lucky to have known him and gutted to have said goodbye. He will be sorely missed by everyone in FOB Inkerman.”

2 Para's Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Joe O'Sullivan said: “He died supporting his colleagues in a situation that required his customary composure and professionalism in handling his dog whilst facing a substantial threat from the enemy.

“In doing so he demonstrated all of the spirit, dedication and bravery of both his own unit and the company of which he had become an integral part.

“He will be remembered as a man with a genuine passion for his work and a true professional with an infectious enthusiasm.

“As a specialist soldier working with 2 Para, his services were vital and in constant demand, and with full knowledge of the risks involved, he never failed to deliver.

“L-Cpl Rowe was a promising NCO with a bright future. Our thoughts are very much with his family at this difficult time.

“2 Para's task in Helmand will continue with vigour in his memory and his legacy to the battalion's work in Afghanistan will never be forgotten.”

L-Cpl Ken Rowe joined the Army in Newcastle in March 2005 and he quickly established himself as a dog handler and trainer of the “highest order”, serving in Northern Ireland before deploying to Afghanistan in March this year.

He leaves behind his parents Lyn and Kenneth and his two sisters.

The death brings the total number of British service personnel who have died in Afghanistan to 112.

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