‘A true hero in all our hearts’: Family pay tribute to soldier killed in Afghanistan operation to rescue kidnapped police chief

  • Private Gregg Stone was a member of a task force fighting to rescue deputy police chief Abdul Walid
  • He had been told in the last few days his wife Samantha was expecting
  • The soldier, from 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, is the 417th member of UK forces to have died since operations began in Afghanistan in 2001
  • Police chief was saved, but the soldier was killed by small arms fire
  • Governor of Helmand province praises ‘the sacrifices and bravery of the British forces’

By
Damien Gayle and Rob Cooper

05:34 EST, 5 June 2012

|

09:06 EST, 5 June 2012


Brave: Private Gregg Stone was killed by insurgent gunfire during a mission to rescue an Afghan policeman

Brave: Private Gregg Stone was killed by insurgent gunfire during a mission to rescue an Afghan policeman

A heroic young soldier killed in Afghanistan while rescuing a kidnapped police chief was due to become a father for the first time.

Private Gregg Stone, 20, was shot dead as he took part in a daring mission to rescue a policeman kidnapped by extremists in the Nar-e-Seraj district of Helmand province.

The young soldier, who had been in Afghanistan for less than a month, had been told in the last few days that his wife Samantha was pregnant with his first child.

He was shot dead on Sunday night as his task force successfully saved policeman Abdul Walid from insurgents who captured him at a checkpoint.

Today tributes were pouring in for Pte Stone, who was from Hull, who was only deployed to the war-torn country on May 13 as part of 6 Platoon, Burma Company.

Major Rob Singleton, Officer Commanding Burma Company, 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, said: ‘Only a few days ago he told me how excited he was at the prospect of becoming a father for the first time.

‘He will be sorely missed by everyone in Burma Company and he will never be forgotten.

‘The thoughts and prayers of every member of Burma Company are with Gregg’s wife and his loving family.’

Army chiefs said he was looking forward to attending the Junior Non-Commissioned Officers course upon return from Afghanistan, ‘which he was sure to pass’.

His widow celebrated his life, saying: ‘Gregg and I were childhood sweethearts and we met at school – he was my soulmate.

‘He was a brilliant husband and a family man who loved his family. He was always the one to want to make us laugh – he always cheered everyone up.

‘He was proud to be a soldier and for what he had achieved in his work. He would also want me to mention his dog Benji, who he loved to bits.’

The soldier’s mother, Angela, father, Robert, brothers, Kallum, Jamie and Graeme, and sisters, Rosie and Jennie, also celebrated his life.

In a statement they said: ‘He will always be a true hero in all our hearts.

‘Anyone who was blessed enough to have known him will know how much of a credit to his friends and family he was. Words cannot begin to describe this great loss, and we are exceptionally proud of Gregg for everything he was and still is.

Ongoing conflict: A soldier from the 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, has become the 417th member of the British forces to have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001

Ongoing conflict: A soldier from the 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, has become the 417th member of the British forces to have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001

‘Gregg was the kindest, funniest, friendliest, most popular lad that you could wish to meet. This is the saddest loss of our laughing boy.’

Private Stone became the 417th member of UK forces to have died since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001.

Officials said Mr Walid, a deputy
chief, was kidnapped at a police checkpoint in Payan village on Sunday night.

British troops with colleagues from
ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) laid siege to the area
and recovered Mr Walid after a fierce battle with the Taliban. Private
Stone was killed by small arms fire during the attack, which left
another British serviceman injured.

The insurgents escaped from the area but ISAF forces captured one mobile phone, some of their documents and explosives.

Corporal Michael Thacker, from 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh, was shot dead in Afghanistan on Friday

Corporal Michael Thacker, from 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh, was shot dead in Afghanistan on Friday

Gulab Mangal, governor of Helmand province, applauded the British forces for their bravery.

His officials issued a statement
saying: ‘Helmand governor praises the sacrifices and bravery of the
British forces that they rescued an Afghan police officer and sacrificed
own selves.

‘Helmand governor and the local
residents of Helmand will never forget such a sacrifices of the British
forces and offer own sympathy to the British Government for the death
and injury of the British soldiers.’

Lieutenant Colonel John Kerner,
spokesman for British Forces Helmand, said the Private Stone’s death
would be felt acutely in the war zone.

He said: ‘His loss will be felt by
everyone across Task Force Helmand and our thoughts are with his family
and friends at this difficult time.’

The soldier died two days after another British serviceman, from 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh, was killed in the same region.

Corporal Michael John Thacker was
manning an observation post in the Nahr-e Saraj District when his patrol
came under attack from small arms fire.

The 27-year-old father-of-one received
immediate medical attention and was evacuated from the scene by
helicopter but died of his injuries.

Corporal Thacker, who was born in
Swindon, Wiltshire, had also served in Northern Ireland and Iraq and had
completed two previous tours of Afghanistan.

He was described as a ‘soldier’s soldier’ and ‘natural leader’ by his comrades.

His wife Catherine, who he lived with
in Coventry, said: ‘Michael was the love of my life. He was an amazing
husband and father who will always be remembered as a funny, loving and
kind man.

‘Everyone who met Mike instantly liked him and through time came to love him.’

Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Webb MC,
Commanding Officer, 1 Royal Welsh, said: ‘Corporal Michael Thacker had
all the attributes of a superb Royal Welsh junior non-commissioned
officer and he was exactly the man that you would want at your side when
life got difficult.

‘He was a soldier’s soldier – a larger than life character, highly competent, fiercely loyal and hugely proud of his family.

‘He had a great sense of humour, banter was his speciality and any time spent with him was time well spent.’

He added: ‘No-one ever left him without a smile on their face – he simply loved life.

‘He was mischievous, fun, incredibly amiable and with a grin that would brighten the darkest of days.’

Here’s what other readers have said. Why not add your thoughts,
or debate this issue live on our message boards.

The comments below have not been moderated.

Hopefully, his ex-wife will now find a decent man, willing to stick around and show her a good time along with being a proper father to the child.
– A. Pilar Droog, Twickenham England, 06/6/2012 00:23
I suspect her ‘man’ was more of a man than you will ever be. How very dare you.

A. Pillar Droog ,Twickenhan …………..Seemed to have spelt your name wrong. Shouldn’t that be A. PILLOCK ?

The tragedy of war. Throughout human history, men went away to fight and many never returned. As heartless as it sounds, that’s the chance you take when you volunteer for the military. I wonder when this sort of thing will end. Then I wonder that it never will.

The tragedy of war. Throughout human history, men went away to fight and many never returned. As heartless as it sounds, that’s the chance you take when you volunteer for the military. I wonder when this sort of thing will end. Then I wonder that it never will.

What a hero! (what a mug).

Hopefully, his ex-wife will now find a decent man, willing to stick around and show her a good time along with being a proper father to the child.

RIP Gregg you were too young to die ! Lets hope his baby is told what a true hero his / her daddy was . RIP

Should a man who as only been “In Country” a month be sent on such a mission? A true hero RIP

For goodness sake lets get out of there, we shouldn’t have got involved in the first place. Too many lives have been lost and its all Tony Blairs fault.

Another pointless loss in a war that will never be won. It’s time we brought all our personnel back home where they belong.
Deepest sympathy to his family and girlfriend.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress | Designed by: Premium WordPress Themes | Thanks to Themes Gallery, Bromoney and Wordpress Themes