Operations in Afghanistan

Lance Corporal Nicky Mason killed in Afghanistan

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Lance Corporal Nicky Mason, from 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, in southern Afghanistan on Saturday 13 September 2008.

Ministry of Defence crest

Lance Corporal Mason, aged 26, died as a result of an explosion whilst on a routine patrol near Kajaki, in Helmand province, the cause of which is being investigated.

Lance Corporal Nicky Mason

Lance Corporal Nicky Mason was born on 20 December 1981 and hailed from Aveley in Essex. He joined the Army in December 2001 and completed his training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire. He was posted to 2 PARA in July 2002 and joined 12 Platoon, D Company.

Lance Corporal Mason (All rights reserved.)

Lance Corporal Mason (All rights reserved.)

Within a year of joining the Battalion he applied to join the battalion’s specialist reconnaissance platoon, the Patrols Platoon, and performed extremely well on the selection cadre successfully joining the Platoon in October 2003 ahead of his peer group.

He completed the Regimental junior non-commissioned officers course in the summer of 2005 and was promoted to Lance Corporal shortly after in recognition of his qualities as a junior leader and an outstanding soldier. He had completed an operational tour of Northern Ireland as well as two tours of Iraq, this was his first operational tour of Afghanistan and he revelled in it; in the heat and hills surrounding Kajaki he excelled.

Exceptionally fit and a boxer of note, he represented both his Company and the Battalion in the Army semi finals earlier this year. He had a passion for Martial Arts and had successfully competed to a high standard in a range of disciplines. On returning from Operation HERRICK he had his sights set on attempting the selection course to join the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, a natural progression for a man who was always seeking to test himself professionally and to excel.

He was the archetypal paratrooper: tough, resilient and confident in his ability whilst remaining humble and an example to all with whom he worked. Lance Corporal Nicky Mason was universally well known and enjoyed the friendship and respect of all who knew him, he will be sorely missed.

Lance Corporal Mason was single and had no children. His family issued the following statement:

Too dearly loved to be forgotten our much loved son, loyal brother and thoughtful friend always ready for a laugh, a cheeky tease died doing the job he loved.

Lieutenant Colonel Joe OSullivan, Commanding Officer 2 PARA paid tribute to Lance Corporal Mason following his death:

This afternoon X Company was conducting a patrol North West of FOB ZEBRUGGE, and as the Patrols Platoon cleared a key piece of high ground Lance Corporal Nicky Mason was killed by an Explosive Device. The Kajaki Dam has been in the news a great deal over the last few weeks, and the story has been of a major operation to move the third turbine up to the Dam, where in time it can provide much needed electricity for the rest of Helmand.

The hidden story of the Kajaki Dam is the Company that patrols North and South of it daily, to ensure that the Taliban cannot bring heavy weapons within accurate range, so that the power station can continue to function. The ground X Company patrol is limited and predictable, and as a result the risk of attack from Improvised Explosive Devices is very high.

X Company’s task was essential to the operation to move the turbine up to Kajaki, and it is now essential for the work to install the turbine to begin. Nicky Mason knew these risks very well; X Company had already suffered the loss of Corporal Barnes and he and the rest of X Company have demonstrated a special kind of courage to face this threat each day.

Those who celebrate the operation to move the turbine to Kajaki should now reflect on the steadfast courage of those who were there beforehand and who still remain, and on Nicky Mason who has given his life there. 2 PARA will remember him as it remembers all the other members of the Battlegroup that have lost their lives here this summer, and our thoughts are now with his family and their most painful loss.

Major Simon Britton, Officer Commanding X Company at Kajaki paid tribute to Lance Corporal Mason following his death:

In the aftermath of a fatality such as this it is often said that a soldier was “well liked” or “a friend to all”, in the case of Lance Corporal Nicky Mason these comments could not be more true. He was an excellent soldier undoubtedly, but his outstanding quality was his warmth and character. His ready smile was infectious and his effect upon the morale of those who lived and fought beside him will be truly missed. The Parachute Regiment has been deprived of one of its best and many paratroopers have lost a good friend today.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Rob Holliman, the Company Sergeant Major of X Company said:

Lance Corporal Nicky Mason was an extremely professional soldier who carried out his tasks to the full and was like a brother to the members of the Patrols Platoon. He always had a smile on his face and helped all those around him. His sad and untimely departure has left a large void in the platoon and Nicky will be remembered for the good times he shared with his fellow Airborne Brothers. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.

His Platoon Commander, Captain Dave Middleton said:

Lance Corporal Mason was one of the first people I met when I arrived at 2 PARA and we ended up sharing a poncho together on my first exercise. He was a stalwart of the Patrols Platoon and his exemplary levels of fitness and soldiering skills epitomises what the Platoon stands for. His personality was infectious and his popularity far reaching. ‘Mase’ it was an honour to serve with you.

Sergeant Andy Turnbull, Patrols Platoon Sergeant and friend said:

Lance Corporal Nicky Mason characterised what it means to be a paratrooper - strong, fit, courageous, quick-thinking and willing to help and support any fellow comrade. He brought so much more with his insane sense of humour and his always larger than life personality which appeared all too often whatever the situation, even if it was only to offer everyone “tickets to the gun show”, at least three times a day.

He will be missed by all that had the pleasure of knowing and working with him even if that was just a short time - that’s how infectious his personality was. To me a great friend and colleague, an Airborne Brother to the end, I will miss you dearly Nicky as will we all, my thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time.

Corporal Dan O’Callaghan, Patrols Platoon Section Commander, said:

Nicky was one of the biggest characters in the Patrols Platoon, and in the Battalion, he could easily talk with anyone, of any rank making them feel at ease, he always had a smile on his face and would joke around until everyone around him was laughing.

Nicky was a MINIMI gunner within the team and was professional to the last on the ground, he would push himself to the front to protect everyone else selflessly and without fear, whether clearing compounds or providing protection for others. He knew what was required and did it; he just got on with the job he loved, “being a Paratrooper”.

“Nicky will be greatly missed in the Platoon and throughout the Battalion and I cannot think of any bloke I would rather have had the privilege to live or work with, my thoughts are with his family and loved ones back home. Nicky you will always be with us mate, until the next time ‘Rest In Peace’.”

Corporal Nige Phillips, Patrols Platoon Section Commander said:

Nicky was to me, and hundreds of others, a great friend. He was the heart of the platoon that kept us going. He brought us morale and humour that no other person could match, especially with one of his great sayings…all the blokes will know what I mean. He will be sadly missed but never forgotten.

Friend and colleague Lance Corporal Adam Faulkner said:

I had the privilege of knowing and becoming good friends with Nicky since our military careers started. The energy and professionalism that Nicky showed in everything he did inspired those around him. In the hardest and most challenging times he would always somehow manage to pick people up and he was the perfect role model for the younger members of the Platoon. You could always rely on him 100 per cent. Nicky was an outstanding paratrooper. It was an absolute honour to have worked so closely with you Nicky.

Lance Corporal Adie Roberts, close friend and training partner said:

I consider myself extremely lucky and blessed to have met Nick from day one at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick. Since then I have spent my whole time serving alongside Nick.

Nick will always be remembered in the Platoon for his absolute professionalism, courage, bravery and for the highest standards of soldiering. His strength and fitness were unmatched amongst the best. As a person he was able to bring joy and comedy when times were low and hard, he would always put others before himself and wanted nothing in return, showing great selflessness with an immeasurable loyalty for his friends.

As a close friend with whom I spent most of my time in and out of work he will be greatly missed. He will always be held close in my memory and heart as a great comrade, best friend and training partner. A true Brother in Arms.

Lance Corporal Craig Sewell, close friend said:

Lance Corporal Nicky Mason always had a big grin on his face, seeing the positive side of everything. Nothing ever brought his high spirits down. Nicky was always setting himself a goal and loved a challenge, any spare time he had you would find him in the gym getting “ a savage pump on”, or getting “smashed up” training at Mixed Martial Arts for which he had a strong passion and would have gone far. Nicky had a bright future, which was cut short; he will be missed by so many people. Rest in Peace “Little Boyzy.

Close friend Lance Corporal Ross Thiele said:

Nicky Mason my brother: his piercing blue eyes and permanent Mediterranean sun tan, shaved head that shone in the sun and boyish looks that were enough to overwhelm anyone on their first encounter with him. I have so many good memories of him, ones that could bring a smile to your face even on the darkest of days.

Whenever I was down I would go and sit with him, we’d talk for a while and he would always make me feel better and see that things weren’t so bad. He’d make you blush sometimes from the amount of praise he would give you, and for someone to show so much compassion toward you it made you offer it straight back.

Never did he think anything was unachievable, life had no limit and the world really was his oyster. Nicky has inspired me to do so much more in life - because that was him all over. We can all look at ourselves proudly in the mirror each day and say we had the honour of being his friend. The best man I’ve ever known, not a bad word to say about anyone. He will never be forgotten. Rest in Peace Nicky Mason.

Lance Corporal Jones, close friend and colleague, said:

Nicky always had a way of making the best out of a bad situation; you could always rely on his cheeky smile and funny comments to keep everyone going. He was the first person we turned to for advice and invariably we always took it. On a personal note, you helped me through a hard time this year, you led from the front and set the best example to those around you. It was an honour to stand beside you Nicky, you will never be forgotten. Rest in peace.

Private Steve Delany, friend and Patrols Platoon colleague, said:

Nicky Mase; what a character he was in the platoon. He was a good listener, you could always approach him with your problems and he would give out the best advice possible especially when it came to fitness and soldiering. He inspired all the younger members of the platoon. In my career I have never met anyone more committed to his ambitions than ‘Boyzy’. You will never be forgotten mate; it was a privilege working alongside you.

Close friend from training and the Patrols Platoon, Private Al King, said

Nicky was loved by many and liked by all; he had more friends than anyone could hope for. An instantly likeable person with an energy for life that was inspirational. He had so much to live for yet he would always put others before himself. As a paratrooper he was fearless under fire, he found his calling in life and was destined for great things.

He was a truly selfless person and someone I am lucky enough to call a true friend. He died for his country, The Parachute Regiment, his platoon and his friends. He will be deeply missed but never forgotten. ‘Every man an Emperor.’

Lance Corporal Alex O’Dwyer, D Company, 2 PARA remembered his friend:

Firstly, my friend I can’t believe you’ve gone; you really were the last person I thought this could happen to. You were a true gentleman, an athlete and a true professional soldier, and loved by all. Mase, I will never forget the times we shared together, you could always turn a dull moment into something so great. I’m really glad I had the chance to see you not so long ago in Kajaki. We talked about the good times of our famous Thailand holiday and how we would revisit those memories!

Whenever I will remember you Mase, I will smile because you were always happy and full of life. Things will certainly be different without you mate, but you will never be forgotten. I will keep those memories I have of you within my heart. For now my friend, my thoughts go out to your family, rest in peace. God Bless, Boyzie.

Lance Corporal ‘Mac’ McHale, Mortar Platoon 2 PARA paid the following tribute to his friend:

To the one and only true Boyzie. It doesn’t seem real that you’ve gone; words cannot express how much you meant to everyone. There’s so much to say about you Nicky. There was never a dull moment with you around, from going down the town, to doing the job you loved so much. You were a guy that everyone could rely on, no matter what the situation. The stories and memories we’ve told and shared, it’s a shame there’s no more. But the memories we have will last forever. Our thoughts go out to your family and loved ones. You will be missed but never forgotten. See you at the reorg my friend.

Friend and colleague from his days in D Company, Private ‘Nige’ Mansell said:

So long Nicky. You were a great friend to us all and will truly be missed. Our hearts and thoughts go out to your family. Wish you could have made it for another lads’ holiday that we were talking about just a few weeks ago. It was great to see you Mase. You will never be forgotten, bye for now my friend.

Des Browne, Secretary of State for Defence, said:

I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Lance Corporal Nicky Mason. He was clearly an inspirational and popular soldier with a very bright future ahead of him. It is also clear that he had made a massive contribution this summer to the work of his Company, X Company, who have done such an exceptional job, in very difficult conditions, providing security to the Kajaki Dam project, a project which will make a strategic difference to the people of Southern Afghanistan. At this very difficult time my thoughts are with his family and friends.

Published 15 September 2008