Operations in Afghanistan

Lance Corporal Nigel Moffett and Corporal Stephen Bolger killed in Afghanistan

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must announce that Lance Corporal Nigel Moffett from The Light Dragoons and Corporal Stephen Bolger from The Parachute Regiment were killed in Afghanistan on Saturday 30 May 2009.

Lance Corporal Nigel Moffet and Corporal Stephen Bolger (All rights reserved.)
Lance Corporal Nigel Moffet and Corporal Stephen Bolger (All rights reserved.)

Both soldiers were killed as a result of an explosion that happened whilst on a deliberate operation near Musa Qaleh. They were serving with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force.

Lance Corporal Nigel Moffett

LCpl Moffett was born in Holywood, Belfast, on 12 December 1980. He joined The Light Dragoons in July 2003 and served on operations with Regimental Headquarters in Iraq in 2003 and C Squadron (The Legion) in Iraq in 2005 and Afghanistan in 2006.

Lance Corporal Nigel Moffet (All rights reserved.)
Lance Corporal Nigel Moffet (All rights reserved.)

From the very beginning he showed an enthusiasm for soldiering that stood him apart from his peers. Keen to try his hand at everything, LCpl Moffett ran, boxed, cross-country skied, hill-walked and played rugby with the regiment.

He was very much a regimental character, particularly due to his love of extreme physical challenges. He would routinely choose to carry the heavy General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) on endurance marches instead of his rifle. He carried his enthusiastic nature into the Corporals’ Mess, where he could be relied on to be at the centre of any revelry.

In September 2008, LCpl Moffett volunteered to join the Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF) for 19 Light Brigade, as the brigade began preparing for Operation HERRICK 10. The BRF is selected from across all of the units from the brigade and acts as the eyes and ears of the commander.

LCpl Moffett quickly established himself as the fittest member of the unit. A Physical Training Instructor, he was responsible for running much of the subsequent BRF fitness training. He brought to the BRF knowledge of mobility procedures and long range communications and previous operational experience.

This helped mould the BRF through seven arduous months of pre-deployment training, where LCpl Moffett showed his natural leadership and physical and mental robustness on many demanding exercises.

His performance on the Live Firing Test Exercise, conducted in Otterburn in January 2009, was nothing short of outstanding. In the worst environmental conditions, LCpl Moffett was fierce and relentless; attributes which he would call on more than once in the coming months.

The BRF deployed on Op HERRICK 10 in early April 2009 to Helmand province. LCpl Moffett was immediately at the forefront of the action as the driver of one of the lead vehicles in his troop.

He fought bravely in many engagements with the enemy, beginning with an advance against an enemy stronghold on 23 April. On 15 May, his troop was pinned down by heavy machine gun fire; LCpl Moffett rose to the challenge and mounted his GPMG on a rooftop, returning fire and giving his troop the breathing space to win the firefight.

On 30 May, LCpl Moffett was taking part in an operation in Musa Qaleh, scouting a route for his troop, when he was killed in action.

LCpl Nigel David Moffett will be remembered by the BRF and The Light Dragoons as a tough, brave soldier who was an excellent member of the team from the outset.

His father, Nigel Moffett Senior, said:

He was a gentle soul and the eldest son. He had seven brothers and sisters and his late mother always said he was the most fantastic son and he was her right arm in bringing up his siblings.

Nigel was a career solider who wanted to make the Army his focus throughout his entire career. He made his Army his home and the Army treated him like their son.

Nigel felt he was prepared for operations in that he was well trained and had the right tools for the job. Both he and his family understood that ultimately he could die although we didn’t want this to happen. Ultimately, Nigel was a soldier.

Commanding Officer The Light Dragoons, Lieutenant Colonel Gus Fair, said:

LCpl Nigel ‘Moff’ Moffett joined The Light Dragoons in 2003. He had completed two tours of Iraq, and this was his second tour of Afghanistan. LCpl Moffett lived and breathed soldiering, and devoted himself to it.

He relished a challenge; on physical training he would make sure that he was carrying more weight than anyone else and preferably complete it faster than anyone else. It was not unusual to see him in camp during leave just so that he could conduct some extra training.

He relished his role as a Physical Training Instructor and was always the first to volunteer for a course or adventurous training. His dedication, fitness and sheer enjoyment of his work marked him out as a star of the future and a role model to the junior soldiers.

He died at the top of his game and showed all the potential of realising his ambition of serving as a badged member of UK Special Forces.

Moff made sure that he never wasted a moment of his life - he wanted to see as much of the world as he could and experience everything it had to offer. He was one of the very best, and the regiment will not forget his sacrifice.

Officer Commanding, Brigade Reconnaissance Force, Major Neil Grant, said:

As strong as an ox, LCpl Moffett was an exceptionally physically fit and robust soldier. He had many other attributes. He was charming and funny, with a natural Irish wit, which both helped him and got him into trouble, in equal measure.

He was courageous under fire, and showed a streak of tenacity of which we in the BRF are immensely proud. A committed professional with burning ambition, he was hoping to attempt Special Forces Selection next summer after this tour. He would have acquitted himself well.

Today, the BRF have lost a brave soldier and brother-in-arms. He lived and died for his comrades who, despite being from all the units of the brigade, are All of One Company. LCpl Moffett’s sacrifice will not be forgotten.

Officer Commanding, C Squadron, The Light Dragoons, Major Sam Plant, said:

LCpl Moffett was attached to the Brigade Reconnaissance Force for this operational tour. It is typical of this man to have volunteered to serve as part of this important and dynamic sub-unit.

Always on the look out for a challenge, Moff was everything that a recce soldier should be - resourceful, inquisitive, brave and determined, equally happy in both the mounted and dismounted roles.

Moff will be hugely missed by all ranks of C Squadron, The Light Dragoons. He was universally respected as a soldier and a great friend to all of us. His personal fitness was nothing short of legendary and he set the standards in this department across the regiment. His contribution, as a Physical Training Instructor, to the preparation of the soldiers of C Squadron for deployment to Afghanistan was immense.

At the time of his death, he was knocking on the door of promotion and, in the rank of Corporal, he would have made an outstanding Formation Reconnaissance Vehicle Commander.

Moff will be hugely missed and remembered forever. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this very difficult time.

Company Sergeant Major, Brigade Reconnaissance Force, Warrant Officer Class 2 Martyn Chatterley, said:

I first met LCpl Nigel Moffett in September 2008 on the selection for the Brigade Reconnaissance Force. He was quick-witted and an instant character. He was quickly nicked named “THE LUNG” for his outstanding ability to run the whole company into the ground.

He had a flare for reconnaissance work with great spirit and a professional attitude; a man who would volunteer no matter what the task.

To me, not only was LCpl Nigel Moffett a first class recce soldier with whom I had the honour of working alongside, he had become a friend I will never forget. He will be sorely missed by all. My condolences go to his family and friends. Rest in peace LCpl Moffett.

Squadron Sergeant Major, C Squadron, The Light Dragoons, WO2 David Rae, said:

LCpl Moffett was an outstanding soldier. It seems by looking back at his achievements and his attitude to his choice of career that maybe he was always destined to be a soldier; he was a natural but stood out amongst others with his dedication to becoming the best he could be.

My first memory of Moff was of a young lad about to learn his trade in Bovington. Even at an early age he was not convinced his aspirations would be met in the regiment he was allocated; instead he wanted to serve as a reconnaissance soldier.

I would see him daily with a 50lb [23kg] pack on running the training areas to become fitter and stronger than those around him. I enquired as to why he was training so hard whilst others were enjoying the freedom gained from leaving Basic Training, his answer was simple, ‘I want to be a “recce” soldier and I need to convince them I am going to be one’. These words and his dedication had me wishing if only every young man had this zest for soldiering and this commitment to their chosen career. He was granted his wish and joined The Light Dragoons.

Again we crossed paths when I assumed my position as Squadron Sergeant Major. Moff was more experienced having been on tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and unbelievably, fitter and stronger than when we first met. He was the Squadron Physical Training Instructor, and to a man, we all paraded under him for PT with more than a little apprehension of how we would fair under his ‘training’.

Moff took no prisoners and never eased off, regardless of how hard people were blowing and regardless of what rank they were. The Legion expected nothing less than a professional approach from him and we all benefited hugely from his expertise.

Moff was a real Legion character, strong as they come, committed to and proud of his squadron and his regiment, reliable in everything tasked to him, professional at all times, and totally committed to his fellow soldiers and friends, but his character shone through also.

Moff was honest, sincere, respectful and always ready to help a friend however he could. Moff is respected by all who knew him and we will miss this unique man dearly. We were proud to call Moff one of our own. His name will flourish forever, we will remember him.

Our deepest sympathy and blessings to his family and friends during this most difficult time.

Corporal Tony Duncan said on behalf of his friends in Command Troop:

Moff was a true soldier and a loyal friend. He was an inspiration to the rest of the regiment and showed this by being at the front with the BRF.

Before we came out here, Moff let it be known that if he died in Afghanistan he would be happy because he was doing the job he loved.

He lived his life on the edge and always pushed himself to the extreme. Anyone that knew Moff would know that the Army was his life and the regiment a second family. We will never forget him.

Corporal Stephen Bolger

Corporal Stephen Bolger (All rights reserved.)
Corporal Stephen Bolger (All rights reserved.)

Corporal Bolger’s family have released the following statement:

Stephen was a wonderful first born son, brother to two and friend to many; he was dearly loved and will be sorely missed. Stephen was always happy, caring and generous and we are sure that those fortunate enough to have known him will share in the loss we are now feeling.

We can take some comfort knowing that he died amongst friends, doing something he loved and believed in. We are all immensely proud of him.

We would ask that the press respect our need to grieve in private at this difficult time.

His Commanding Officer said:

Stephen was, quite simply, an extraordinary man doing an extraordinary job. He embodied a life based on service to others, duty and self-sacrifice - the life of a soldier. He chose this life and lived it with a passion; he died prematurely, but he died doing what he loved.

He gave his all for his friends, for The Parachute Regiment and for the difficult task he faced. How privileged we are to have known this courageous and talented soldier and every member of the unit is very proud and deeply honoured to have served alongside him.

We think now about his family; our thoughts and prayers are with them, and in the silence of their lives we hope they will draw strength from the same memories we all share.

Of the two soldiers, Secretary of State for Defence John Hutton said:

Lance Corporal Nigel Moffett and Corporal Stephen Bolger paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan, protecting the security of our nation. The comments of their comrades make clear that these two young men were soldiers of unusual determination and ability. This is a terribly sad loss for the Armed Forces, and I can only express my deepest sympathy to their grieving families.