Operations in Afghanistan

Captain Mark Hale, Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton and Rifleman Daniel Wild killed in Afghanistan

With deep regret the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Captain Mark Hale and Rifleman Daniel Wild of 2nd Battalion The Rifles and Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton of 40th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Lowland Gunners) were killed in Afghanistan on Thursday 13 August 2009.

All three died following an explosion while on patrol near Sangin in Helmand province.

Captain Mark Hale, Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton and Rifleman Daniel Wild
Captain Mark Hale, Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton and Rifleman Daniel Wild [Pictures: via MOD]

Captain Mark Hale

Captain Mark Hale was born on 9 April 1967 in Bournemouth. He joined the Army in 1983, aged 16, as a Junior Leader and embarked on an exceptional career with the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment that took him on operations to Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and then, with 2nd Battalion The Rifles (2 RIFLES), to Afghanistan.

Captain Mark Hale
Captain Mark Hale, 2nd Battalion The Rifles [Picture: via MOD]

One of the outstanding soldiers of his generation, he found his calling in the Reconnaissance Platoon, where he spent much of his career.

He was promoted to Company Serjeant Major in London on ceremonial duties and then had a brief spell as Regimental Serjeant Major.

Selected for a commission, he managed the careers of almost 1,000 soldiers in 1st Battalion The Rifles as four regiments merged to form The Rifles in 2007.

He then moved to 2 RIFLES as the Motor Transport Officer and then became the Battle Group Logistics Officer for operations in Afghanistan this summer.

Capt Hale was fiercely fit; he loved cycling, rowing and rugby. He was a genuine thinker, had studied at the Open University for a degree and then took a Masters in Psychology.

He was a devoted husband, adored by his wife Brenda, and a loving and exceptional father to his two daughters. He died in hospital at Camp Bastion on 13 August 2009 after being caught in an IED (improvised explosive device) blast helping an injured soldier to safety whilst on patrol near Sangin.

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson, Commanding Officer, 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said:

It is almost impossible to know where to start when writing a tribute to a man as brave, huge and full-on as Mark Hale. He oozed quality, humanity and had a tremendous and mischievous sense of fun, which frequently lightened the load of this extraordinary tour.

He was ‘undentable’ and we in 2 RIFLES have invented this new word in honour of Mark. Nothing fazed him, however demanding the situation, and his ability to absorb work, pressure and other people’s worries was genuinely legendary. That is what ‘undentable’ now means.

As the Battle Group’s Logistics Officer, Mark has been supreme on this complex, intense and dangerous tour. He sorted out big issues easily and with no fuss, and he dealt with a host of annoying, CO [Commanding Officer] type questions of detail with enviable patience.

I knew when a task had his name ascribed to it that that task was as good as done already. I kept giving him more work and he kept on delivering. He has been superb counsel to me and, much more importantly, to countless Riflemen who have hunted him out for a chat.

On the ground he breathed courage into the platoons he served alongside. Mark was an outstanding Rifleman - fiercely intelligent, always creating novel options, often well outside his logistic lane, and committed like no other.

It is entirely typical of this man that he died whilst helping to evacuate wounded soldiers. Mark understood the importance and the urgency of the work in this place in spades - one could see that from the amount he crammed into each day.

But he was more than just an extraordinary professional, he was a truly great man, a devoted husband and an adored father. He had a strong Christian faith, even standing in as the padre for one of our church services here in Sangin.

Mark wasn’t a fifth gear man, he was a sixth gear merchant. Us mortals could rarely keep up. When we rowed on ergo machines from Sangin to Pegasus Bridge in April, May and June to raise money for wounded soldiers, he led the way; on one inhuman session he rowed 42,000 metres. To him, it was just another challenge but it gives you a feel for the mark of the man.

The hole he has left in our lives is enormous but we know that our grief is nothing compared to what his dear, beloved family is going through.

But this should be some comfort. Mark Hale, a man of true Christian faith, died doing a job he loved and was embarked on a mission that has national levels of importance and urgency. Our hearts go out to his family - we are holding them very close in our prayers.

Mark, I promise you that your baton here has not been dropped - it is held high.

Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Jones, Commanding Officer, 4th Battalion The Rifles (a former Reconnaissance Platoon Commander with Captain Hale), said:

Mark was a legend - a giant of a man in every sense of the word. Honourable, intelligent, utterly professional and loyal. He has touched the lives of so many people over his 20 plus years’ service and there will be so very many people in the West Country and way beyond who will be absolutely devastated that a man of such stature has fallen.

He had that air of self-confidence, born of quality, which the very finest soldiers have. You always felt that he was challenging you. However, he was most certainly not arrogant. Hard to his core, he was immensely fit, strong and competitive, not least on the rugby field where his gentle manner was discarded.

Frankly, he terrified junior officers in his younger days by his presence - God only knows what young Privates made of him. I had the honour to command him in the Recce Platoon in Bosnia in 1995, during what was a highly dynamic tour - he was immense.

It was the most star-studded platoon I have ever come across, but Mark was a towering presence. Always challenging to make sure that things were absolutely right, he was a complete rock when the chips were down.

However, it is his wonderfully warm character that I will remember most, always a big smile on his face, he seemed to almost envelop you with his character and presence - he genuinely had an aura about him. It seems inconceivable that he has gone.

Major Darren Denning, Chief of Staff, 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said:

‘I don’t have worries and I don’t believe in crises’, that was the Mark Hale approach. He was better read, better informed, more articulate and more astute than all of us. Easy, common-sense solutions to difficult problems were his trademark and he saved us all hours of fruitless labour by being so sharp.

He knew just how far to push it and would only ever overstep the mark knowingly and armed with an instantly forgivable grin. Mark was so well-tuned, always read the mood and was genuinely witty. He could be ever so slightly sarcastic - unless he meant it and then he did sarcasm really, really well.

What I will miss most is his presence. This is said of many, but Mark Hale did fill a room and proved that you didn’t have to be noisy to do so. He cared for his people and such was the respect in which he was held that formality was never needed in his command. Mark was a universally popular and well-loved Rifleman - full stop.

I, and countless others, sought his opinion on almost everything. His sage advice was always on the money and we loved the way he put his arms around those having a harder time of it. Some people show an interest to be seen to do so, Mark just cared. Such good companionship is so hard to find and, in a difficult place, in difficult times, he was an anchor point to many. The desk he hated with a passion is now empty in front of us and there is an enormous void in the Battle Group. This really hurts, but is of no comparison with the grief Mark’s beloved family will feel. Mark loved them deeply and they were always at the forefront of his mind. They are now held close in our collective thoughts and prayers.

Major Mark Owen, Quartermaster, 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said:

Mark was a giant man with a giant personality, his sharp sense of humour was a real joy to be around. He had that magic touch of adding calm and a sense of perspective whilst all around would be losing their head. I recall in Iraq when he decided that it wasn’t necessary to wash his hair, ‘it would clean itself’. Of course he was right, but the first few weeks were smelly while his hair developed its self-cleaning properties. Once I tried to match him on a bike, he was 14 hours into a 24-hour marathon; I was wrong to try, as ever he proved too strong. I miss him as will countless others. My thoughts and prayers at this unimaginably painful time are with Brenda and his two daughters.

Major Karl Hickman, Officer Commanding, A Company, 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said:

Mark Hale was the type of guy that you would always want next to you on patrol. Big in stature, both physically and in terms of personality, he was utterly unflappable and always dismissed any pressure or difficulty with his easy sense of humour and calming presence. He was also always there when you needed him, putting others first and ensuring the success of the mission. Mark was one of the great men of the battalion and it was a tremendous privilege to have served with him.

Major Marc Briggs, Officer Commanding, Headquarter Company, 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said:

Physical strength, compassion and a wicked sense of humour, Mark was one of the great men of the battalion. He would never slow, whether training in the gym at midnight, as that was the only time left in the day, or taking every opportunity to support the Riflemen on patrol despite having a demanding job in the HQ.

Mark died as a Rifleman on patrol in the most demanding of operational environments. He leaves a large hole with me and in the battalion. It is an absolute pleasure to have known him.

Major Will Strickland, Deputy Chief of Staff, 19 Light Brigade, said:

Over the last year we spent most Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons rowing together on the Lagan. Other than us, we had a particularly Irish and civvie boat, to which he always provided much needed calm and understated control.

He was outstandingly fit, and was certainly the powerhouse of our boat. His humour, selflessness, and his obvious close orientation to family life - his girls rowed at the Belfast Boat Club as well - endeared him to the whole club.

The largely Irish team were and are very protective of both of us, and have been constantly emailing whilst we have been away. We were both looking forward to returning to compete, and he had been constantly training in Sangin in preparation.

I will personally think of him every time I go out on the water, as I am sure the rest of the boat will. There will equally be a real sense of loss when I look at the desk he was meant to fill in the Brigade Headquarters for the next two years.

Captain Rupert Streatfeild, Operations Officer, 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said:

Mark was the heart of 2 RIFLES, a giant of a man, both physically and in character. His calm appearance contrasted with a fierce determination to support all he knew; whether it be his family, fellow Riflemen or even team-mates on a rugby pitch.

As a father he was deeply proud of his daughters, as a soldier he was deeply paternal towards his men. His strong and caring nature came from his close faith and relationship with God.

Having prayed together, he shared both the joys and frustrations of life out here. He wouldn’t ask anyone to do a task he wasn’t willing to do himself, a fact widely acknowledged by all who knew him and, as such, sought to live out the example of Christ. A legend of a man who will be sorely missed by all.

Lieutenant Hannah Keenan, Adjutant General’s Corps, Detachment Commander, 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said:

Mark was a father figure to the whole Battle Group, he cared deeply for everyone here and always provided morale whatever the situation. He died doing the job he loved; for no-one else does the phrase ‘Soldier First’ fit better. He was out to understand exactly what the guys on the ground were going through, so he could empathise as well as sympathise.

A huge void has been left, but we will make him proud and get on with the task at hand, exactly as he would have done. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his beloved wife Brenda and his daughters who have lost a truly special man.

Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton

Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton was killed in action on Thursday 13 August 2009 when he was caught in an improvised explosive device blast whilst on foot patrol as part of Op GHARTSE KERS 4, providing security for a pre-election shura in the Sangin area of Helmand province.

Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton
Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton, 40th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Lowland Gunners) [Picture: via MOD]

He had suffered injury in an initial blast whilst trying to clear an extraction route to the helicopter landing site and was then caught in a second blast in which he was fatally wounded.

Lance Bombardier Hatton was born on 15 June 1986 and was from Haxby in North Yorkshire. He joined 40th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Lowland Gunners) on 21 January 2004 after completion of his basic training at the Army Foundation College (AFC) Harrogate and phase 2 training at Larkhill, Wiltshire.

After an initial tour in 49 (Inkerman) Headquarters Battery, he was posted to 6/36 (Arcot 1751) Battery, immediately establishing himself as a highly popular character within a very close-knit Tactical Group. Having previously completed operational tours in Iraq and Cyprus, he completed pre-deployment training for Afghanistan and subsequently deployed with the 2 RIFLES Battle Group in March 2009 as an Observation Post Assistant, initially to the Kajaki area of operations and subsequently south, to Sangin, where he was bolstering the in-place Fire Support Team (FST) when he was tragically killed.

The role of an Observation Post Assistant is a demanding one and requires a special breed of soldier. The job requires initiative, foresight, composure under extreme pressure, clarity of thought, physical and mental robustness, and tactical awareness.

Lance Bombardier Hatton epitomised these qualities and possessed an enthusiasm for his work which was clear for all to see. He was often to be found in his room at night reading his operational procedures cribs in order to better understand the technical aspects of his profession, much to the amusement of his friends in the battery, or in the gym working hard on his fitness in order to ensure that he would be ready in all respects when the time came.

He had begun his career in 40th Regiment Royal Artillery as a Battlefield Meteorological System Operator responsible for providing the meteorological data that a Light Gun requires in order to fire accurately.

However, it was indicative of his character and desire to be at the forefront of the action that he sought a posting to a Fire Support Team. He was a man who thrived on being at the forefront of everything that his battery and regiment were involved in and it was in this spirit that he deployed to Kajaki with his FST and his comrades from the 2 RIFLES Battle Group.

In perhaps the most austere and kinetic corner of Helmand province, his orchestration of Joint Fires was truly exceptional. On his return from Helmand province, it was his wish to attempt the arduous patrols course and become a member of 4/73 Battery Royal Artillery; further testament to the sheer enjoyment and satisfaction he derived from soldiering, and soldiering well.

A young man with a winning smile and a heart of gold, Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton was one of the best of us. The distress of the regiment is second only to that of his mother, Jill, father, Philip, sisters, Vicky and Becky, and his girlfriend, Tasha Chehab. Our thoughts are with them.

Lance Bombardier Hatton’s family said:

Matt always wanted to be a soldier from being very young. He passionately enjoyed his job and often talked fondly about his colleagues and friends.

He was very brave and a credit to both us and the Army. We are really proud of him as our son, as a brother and as a soldier. Matt loved all his family dearly. He was full of fun, mischief and always brought happiness to our days. With a huge heart he touched many lives and will be missed by everyone and remembered forever.

Lieutenant Colonel Owen Adams, Commanding Officer of 40th Regiment Royal Artillery, said:

Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton was a man who had found his niche in life. He revelled in the bond that is commonplace amongst soldiers who serve in small teams across the Army and he lived to excel in his chosen profession.

Being a member of an FST on operations is a privileged and important role at the very heart of the Company Group. The bonds of camaraderie formed between a company and its FST are forged through the blood and sweat of endeavour, in pursuit of a common purpose.

It is a special bond that only soldiers truly understand; Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton understood it and thrived on it, as did his resolute comrades in 2 RIFLES, and I know they will mourn his loss with their own.

Lance Bombardier Hatton was one of those characters who stood out in a crowd. I was always most struck by his engaging style, cheerfulness and sense of pride. I enjoyed his company on the times we chatted in barracks or out in the field. He was no shrinking violet and would always engage in conversation with his superiors, peers and subordinates alike; a positive and inspiring young man who I can honestly say was a genuine pleasure to know.

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson, Commanding Officer, 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said:

Lance Bombardier Hatton was one of an enviably effervescent bunch of Gunners who have made a mark in all corners of the 2 RIFLES Battle Group. I got to know Lance Bombardier Hatton because we always seemed to be on the same helicopter.

He made an immediate impression - physically striking, he sat and chatted with real insight about his fight at Kajaki and what he hoped to bring to Sangin. He was a master of his art and has dug my Riflemen out of some very hairy moments and I am hugely grateful. He has saved lives, undoubtedly so.

I have been struck as I have walked round my Battle Group today by how proud people are to have known ‘Hatts’ and I count myself firmly in that number of very privileged men and women.

He will be sorely missed by us all but we will pause in our FOB [Forward Operating Base] to recall a man who lived to the full, brimmed with passion for his job, and touched the lives of many here in the Upper Sangin Valley. There is much to celebrate in his life, cut so tragically short.

Our prayers and thoughts must now be with his beloved family and we pray that somehow they will find the courage and the strength to face this unimaginably awful time.

Major Joe Power, Commander 6/36 Battery, 40th Regiment Royal Artillery, said:

In the short time I knew Lance Bombardier Hatton he made a remarkable impression on me. It is a great testament to his character that he so readily volunteered to join the A Company Fire Support Team in Sangin, having spent a considerable period engaged in combat operations in Kajaki beforehand.

Full of beans and with huge reserves of energy, he threw himself into his new role as the ‘Ack’ [Second-in-Command], and quickly made his mark in an already highly competent team. His arrival added impetus and fresh ideas and he just couldn’t wait to use his considerable talents to make a difference here in Sangin.

He remarked to me just days before his untimely death that soldiering in Sangin was precisely what he joined the Army to do. He was supremely comfortable with his duties as an ‘Ack’ and a great soldier too. He had an amazing future ahead of him and the battery has lost one of its rising stars.

Enormously popular and unfailingly cheerful, even when faced with adversity, his mischievous smile and sense of fun will be sorely missed. He was the epitome of a Fire Support Team soldier and died doing what he loved.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and loved ones at this most difficult of times.

Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton was a man who had found his niche in life. He revelled in the bond that is commonplace amongst soldiers who serve in small teams across the Army and he lived to excel in his chosen profession. Lieutenant Colonel Owen Adams, Commanding Officer of 40th Regiment Royal Artillery

Major Matt Rimmer, former Commander 6/36 Battery, said:

Lance Bombardier Hatton was one of my rising stars, a real talent for the future. ‘Hatts’, as we rather predictably called him, was an ox of a man, with shoulders that bore weight and responsibility with equal ease.

He was thriving on operations in northern Helmand, relishing his role in a Fire Support Team and flourishing in a hugely challenging environment. He had been part of a very close-knit team supporting 2 RIFLES Battle Group and clearly loved the experience.

Fitter, stronger and more assured than I have ever known him, he used his technical skill on a daily basis to take the fight to the insurgents. He loved being a soldier, loved being in the mix with his mates and was growing in maturity and confidence before one’s eyes.

Despite an inability to resist spending vast amounts of cash on unnecessary military kit, Hatts was a remarkably level-headed and measured man. Calm, poised and ready to chat, he had an enviable ability to make friends readily - he was the sort of guy who would always make the extra effort to include someone new. He was a gallant and kind man - a genuinely decent bloke.

Hatts had real intelligence and courage, as his questions and his actions demonstrated. Never afraid to volunteer, he was a front-foot soldier with a positive attitude and a positive influence on those around him. While his friends and family will be suffering hugely at the moment, they should rest assured that he was a man in his element, doing what he loved, doing it superbly and making a difference.

Captain Colin Oliver, Acting Officer Commanding, I Company, 2 RIFLES, said:

Lance Bombardier Hatton spent most of his tour at Kajaki, where he was a proud member of a close Fire Support Team that helped I Company, 2 RIFLES, protect the Kajaki dam. A unique part of Helmand, the FST were in constant use and ‘Hatts’ was an important part of a team who used Joint Fires on an almost daily basis.

Fit, strong and with a larger than life character, he was well known throughout the FOB, and was a popular individual amongst the Riflemen of I Company. He dealt with the news of his move to Sangin with maturity and enthusiasm for a new challenge. A mark of the man was that he spent his last few days in Kajaki cramming up on his skills and drills, so that he could do the best possible job as an ‘Ack’ in Sangin.

He will be greatly missed, both by his very close-knit FST and by those Riflemen with whom he served in Kajaki. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time, of whom he talked about so often.

Sergeant Lee Wotherspoon, Team Commander, said:

I first met Lance Bombardier Hatton as a fresh-faced sixteen-year-old when I was his Section Commander at AFC Harrogate. Straight away I was struck by his boundless energy and willingness to learn and try new experiences.

This never changed throughout his career and he always threw himself into every situation with an enthusiasm that was an inspiration to the younger members of the team. As a colleague and a friend he was always a joy to be around with his ready wit and all too ready smile. He was, to the end, a constant professional; he was never happier than when he was doing his job, in which he took great pride.

Hatts, you were a joy to be around and inspired all who knew you. It saddens me that you are gone and the world will be a much duller place without you in it. Our thoughts go out to your family at this most difficult of times. You were one of the best and will never be replaced.

Sergeant Mike Oldfield, of the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre in Kajaki, said:

Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton was an excellent Junior Non-Commissioned Officer. He was an immensely strong soldier and could tab along for hours on end in the heat without moaning. His input to our team in daily FOB life will be missed immensely. Although his bread-baking skills left a lot to be desired he would always try again the next day which just summed up his character.

He was a man who wouldn’t give up on something once he’d set his mind to do it; a great soldier and a great bloke. May you now rest in peace.

Bombardier Simon Chambers, FST ‘Ack’ in Wishtan, said:

It has only been a couple of years since ‘Hatts’ joined our Tactical Group, bringing with him huge amounts of enthusiasm and surplus amounts of kit. He spent the majority of his pay on ‘ally-ness’ when on occasion he didn’t even know what it was for! It may even be true that he had more kit than the BQMS [Battery Quartermaster Sergeant].

Hatts, your keenness, love of the FST and the regiment will be greatly missed; it saddens us to know that you will not be around to brighten our lives. Our thoughts and prayers go out to your family and friends at this time.

Bombardier Ryan Brown, FST ‘Ack’ in Kajaki, said:

Matthew, or ‘Hatts’ as he was known to many, was as keen as they come. I grew to know Hatts on a personal and professional level as we have always seemed to end up on the same courses ever since I joined the regiment. He always wanted to be in a Fire Support Team and, sure enough, he transferred batteries and ended up a member of 6/36 (Arcot 1751) Battery RA.

Having completed our Observation Post Assistant Level 3 course together we found out we would be ‘Going to War’ (as we called it) together as ‘Witchcraft 23’. Hatts was a vital member of the team and although I was the ‘Ack’ he was the ‘Ack’s Ack’, a joke we had amongst us. Having served five months with us in Kajaki he was in his element fighting the fight and getting to show his skills as the team’s ‘Ray Mears’.

When he got the chance to go to Sangin, he grinned like a Cheshire Cat! That will be the lasting memory I will always have of him, as he got on that flight to go down river and do what he was itching to do. I know he had a huge impact once he arrived and he told me he was having the time of his life.

Hatts - you will be missed but never forgotten. Our thoughts are with the Hatton family circle at this difficult time.

Gunner Lee Davies, Kajaki FST, said:

‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest’, Matthew 11:28.

Lance Bombardier Hatton was a true soldier and very close friend. I knew Hatts for two years and it was the second year when we really got close, when we were in the same FST. These past five months will always stick with me, especially all the good laughs Matthew and I had.

To all the Hatton family and friends, my heart goes out to you all. You will never be forgotten Big Man.

Gunner Toby Allen, Kajaki FST, said:

Hatts was such a great guy for the time I knew him. He lived for the Army; he always wanted to get into the action and do a bit of the fighting. Since being on tour and exercise with Hatts, he has taught me so much and made the Army better for me.

I will never forget you Hatts; you were such a good friend and an awesome soldier. May you sleep in peace.

Lance Bombardier John Cottle said:

“Matthew’s true qualities shone through from the moment I met him. He was a quiet but confident soldier who loved his job. He had a heart of gold and would always be willing to help others. He was a dedicated family man who was always at the forefront of any practical jokes played on his fellow colleagues. Matthew will be missed by all. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and many friends at this difficult time.”

Rifleman Daniel Wild

Rifleman Daniel Wild of 2nd Battalion The Rifles was killed near Forward Operating Base Jackson in Sangin, Afghanistan, on Thursday 13 August 2009.

Rifleman Daniel Wild
Rifleman Daniel Wild, 2nd Battalion The Rifles [Picture: via MOD]

Rifleman Wild was born on 18 July 1990 in Easington. He joined the Army in 2007, conducting his phase one training at Army Training Regiment Bassingbourn and completing his phase 2 training at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick.

He joined 2nd Battalion The Rifles in May 2008. Too young to deploy to Kosovo last summer, he seized the opportunity to deploy on exercise to Canada with 5th Battalion The Rifles instead. He excelled there despite his apparent lack of experience, receiving outstanding reports from all he worked with.

On his return to 2 RIFLES he threw himself wholeheartedly into pre-deployment training, determined to excel when he finally got his chance on operations. He passed many courses with distinction including the Team Medic cadre, qualifying him to administer life-saving first aid whilst patrolling in Helmand.

He was an exceptional shot, both with the rifle and machine gun. He died in an IED explosion on 13 August 2009 whilst helping another soldier to safety in Sangin. Rifleman Wild leaves behind his loving mother, his sister, Megan, and his brothers, Dale and Christopher.

Rifleman Wild’s family said:

Rifleman Daniel Christopher Wild, beloved son of mum Laura Laws, stepfather Alan Simmons, brother to Megan, Dale and Christopher, and boyfriend of Kirsty, will always be dearly missed but always in our hearts and minds. The best son, brother and boyfriend ever. xxx

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson, Commanding Officer, 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said:

“Rifleman Wild was an epic Rifleman who has been right at the very front of our fight here in Sangin. He has been fearless and his platoon adored him for it. He was smaller than most (smaller than everyone, if I am being honest) and, when laden, appeared to disappear under the extraordinary burden the boys all carry here.

But Rifleman Wild carried his load lightly and was in no sense a ‘small man’. In a land of metaphorical giants here in Sangin, he was as tall as any of them, perhaps more so.

He was always the lead man in his patrol; he got on with facing that risk every day without any complaint. He was selfless to a fault, everyone else, whatever their rank, came first and his nature was to hunt out the funny side of life.

He has saved life here because, as point man, he was always on the look out for IEDs and it is tragic but typical that he died helping to carry a wounded friend to a helicopter landing site for evacuation. He had so much to offer - his next target was to be a PT [physical training] buster in my gym and he had the lungs and legs for it. Few could keep up with him.

Rifleman Wild will be sorely, sorely missed but we will never forget his sacrifice. He has given his life for his comrades, for our nation and for the people of Afghanistan. And we will celebrate the richness of his life.

Our first prayers and thoughts must now be with his adored family and friends. We pray that somehow they can find strength in this desperately awful time.

Major Karl Hickman, Officer Commanding, A Company, 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said:

I knew that Rifleman Daniel Wild was going to be a tough and resourceful soldier the moment he joined the company. It was probably the fact that he wore jungle boots for tabbing when everyone else wore cushioned walking boots.

Small, wiry and tremendously fit, he was a man who you knew would never quit and someone that you could always rely on. Calm, professional and always with a wry smile, Rifleman Wild had been phenomenally successful as both a Rifleman and as the point man responsible for clearing the route along which his platoon would follow.

Yet he also had the spare capacity to always be there to help others, whatever the situation. He was one of the rocks of his platoon, and the company has lost one of its most promising Riflemen. It was truly a privilege to have served with him.

Lieutenant Will Hignett, 1 Platoon Commander, said:

Rifleman Daniel ‘Wildy’ Wild was the absolute epitome of a tough and professional Rifleman. He was utterly dependable and truly loyal to the platoon, his comrades and his friends.

He brought a sense of calm to those around him and, as the point man, clearing the route for others to follow, he was second-to-none. He unfailingly instilled confidence in those around him with his exceptional skill and capability, carrying out an incredibly demanding role with the platoon.

His actions throughout our time in Afghanistan, without a shadow of doubt, saved numerous lives and allowed the successful completion of all the operations and patrols we undertook. Humorous and cheerful to the very end, he was always the first to pull out his team medic pack and help those around him or be the first to put on his kit and step out the gate after a particularly trying time.

As his Commander he gave me everything I could have asked of him and invariably more. He was a very talented and brave young man with an amazing career ahead of him. He had high aspirations to become a PTI [Physical Training Instructor] on our return to Northern Ireland and I am sure he would have achieved that desire with ease.

The platoon is a much quieter and less colourful place since his loss; he leaves big shoes to fill and his fellow Riflemen are determined to carry on with the mission as they know, without any hesitation, Wildy would have done so for them.

Our thoughts as a platoon are with his family and girlfriend whom he loved dearly and was very proud of. He never stopped talking about his younger sister and was so excited about seeing them all during his mid-tour leave in six days’ time. This is a very sad time for everyone who knew Wildy; he was a star but we all can take solace in the fact he gave his life doing a job he adored, surrounded by friends who loved and respected him.

Corporal Adam Newton, Section Commander, said:

Rifleman Daniel Wild was a great Rifleman and a brother to everyone who knew him. He had a great sense of humour and always put a smile on my face. He always put his mates first. He was a fearless young man.

When we first came to Afghanistan he was one of the men used to clear the route for the platoon to follow, which he loved to do and he did it very well. I can say from my time working with him that he has saved many lives. On the day that he passed away he was taking other casualties to the helicopter and, to me, he died a hero and he will always be remembered as one.

It was an honour working with him and I will truly miss him. Rest in Peace Fallen Hero - Swift and Bold.

Rifleman Dan Cayless, fellow Rifleman, said:

Wild, you were a good mate and you were so brave. All you wanted to do was your job. If something needed doing, you would be the first person to volunteer. I’m gonna miss you loads mate, Rest in Peace.

Rifleman Steve Glover, fellow Rifleman, said:

Rifleman Wild was my best friend and my little brother. Wildy was one of the strongest men I’ve ever worked with and I feel so proud to have served alongside him. He would always be the first man to help anyone out both on the ground or in camp. A brilliant soldier and a best friend. Rest in Peace Wildy, you’ll never be forgotten.

Rifleman Matthew Meakin, fellow Rifleman, said:

Rifleman Wild was not just a mate, he was a brother; a brother that will be missed, not just by his mates and family but by anyone who knew him. He always made sure that he put his mates first. If you were down, you always knew the Wildy would be the first person there to cheer you up. He was a hero, he will be missed and always loved by those who knew him. Rest in Peace Brother. Swift and Bold.

Rifleman Rick Edgar, fellow Rifleman, said:

Wildy, may you Rest in Peace. You were a good mate and you have done us proud. Rest in Peace Wildy.

Rifleman Connor Duff, fellow Rifleman, said:

Your unbreakable spirit and inspiring courage. Your infinite strength and immense passion. You were the one that never broke down, never showed weakness, the one we looked up to, the one we followed. Our mate, our brother, our Rifleman. Rest in Peace Brother.

Rifleman Greg Edwards, fellow Rifleman, said:

Rifleman Daniel Wild was a Rifleman you would definitely be happy to have in your team. He was a strong, courageous and fearless Rifleman who, no matter what he was carrying on the ground or what he was told to do, would have been happy to do it.

Wildy was such a key Rifleman for so long within our platoon, by doing what he did best - being the lead man and clearing the route for us to follow. On numerous occasions Wildy had saved the lives of his men by finding IEDs. It was a privilege and an honour to work with Wildy, a true Rifleman through and through. Rest in Peace buddy, we will miss you so much. You were a legend, we miss you.

Rifleman Joseph Nwagu, fellow Rifleman, said:

Wildy, you left us in shock by your sudden departure but we took solace from the fact that you engraved your name in history by dying a hero. To those whom you gave your life so that they may live peacefully - you are a hero. And to us with whom you shared your joy in good times and marched with, swiftly and boldly in times of danger, you are a warrior, and in our hearts your memory will live forever. Adieu Wildy and may the heavens grant you peace. Rest in Peace.

Rifleman Daniel Taylor, fellow Rifleman, said:

Rifleman Daniel Wild was like my brother. We were battle buddies, we fought side by side for six months out here in Afghanistan . He cleared the route for every patrol and did it brilliantly. Always the first one into a compound, no whingeing, no messing around, he was a true hero. If you knew Wildy, you would understand that he put his life selflessly on the line before any of his mates.

He was always a happy little chappy, joking and taking the mick like any Rifleman does. The only difference was that he was a ‘dirty Mackem’ and I am a horrible Geordie; we were the best of friends but on Derby Day the greatest of enemies. Rest in Peace my little friend and a fearless hero, from me and all the fighters in 1 Platoon. Gone but not forgotten. SWIFT AND BOLD.

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said:

I was saddened to hear of the deaths of these outstanding soldiers. All had qualities that earned them the highest respect from their commanders and peers. Their efforts and achievements during their tours to Afghanistan will be remembered by those they served alongside, and, here in Great Britain, we all will hold them in the highest regard for paying the ultimate sacrifice in helping to protect us against the threat of terror on our streets.

My thoughts are with the families and friends of these fallen soldiers at this dreadful time.

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