It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Sergeant Duane 'Baz' Barwood, attached to 903 Expeditionary Air Wing, Royal Air Force on Friday 29 February 2008, as a result of a rocket attack on the Contingency Operating Base in Basra.
Duane Barwood from Carterton, Oxfordshire, joined the Royal Air Force in 1985 as an RAF Regiment Gunner and later transferred to become a Motor Transport Driver. He was promoted to Sergeant within nine years in the trade, which is exceptional by any standard.
Sgt Barwood, 41, was based at RAF Brize Norton and attached to No 903 Expeditionary Air Wing.
He leaves behind his loving family: wife Sharon and two daughters, Leanna and Rebecca.
Sgt Barwood’s family have made the following statement:
Sgt Duane ‘Baz’ Barwood was a much loved husband, father and friend. Baz will be greatly missed by all those who knew him. He was a very proud and dedicated member of the Royal Air Force who gave his life for the job he loved.
Baz cared about helping others around him - shown by his voluntary work as a First Responder for the Ambulance Service. His caring nature was shown in his family, social and service life. Baz lived life to the full and will never ever be forgotten.
We would ask that our privacy is respected during this difficult time.
Group Captain Malcolm Brecht, Officer Commanding RAF Brize Norton, paid the following tribute:
It is with deep sadness that we mourn the loss of Sergeant Baz Barwood. Our thoughts are very much with his family at this extremely difficult time.
Sergeant Barwood was an outstanding Senior Non-commissioned Officer in every respect. An enthusiastic, loyal and dedicated member of the Royal Air Force, he was a willing volunteer for his tour of duty on Operations in Iraq.
A caring and diligent man, with a larger-than-life personality, Sergeant Barwood was admired and respected by all those he led. As the Motor Transport Officer for the Airfield at Basrah Air Station, Sergeant Barwood displayed natural leadership abilities, strong judgement and exceptional courage. He was a true professional.
Air Commodore Mike Harwood, UK Air Component Commander and Air Officer Commanding 83 Expeditionary Air Group paid the following tribute:
It is obvious to me that he was one of those characters who translates our theoretical ‘Core Values’ - respect, integrity, service and excellence.
“In the very recent past, I shook his hand during one of those poignant ‘in-the-field’ ceremonies - his exemplary contribution during an incident at Basrah, alongside a group of his fine colleagues, earned him formal recognition. He is a human being one is proud to have known.”
Group Captain Mike Wigston, Commander 903 Expeditionary Air Wing said:
Sergeant Barwood was an outstanding Senior Non-Commissioned Officer who was loved by his people and respected by all. I came to know him well and we had many a conversation about our shared experiences and his delight at his next appointment.
I’ll also remember him for his mischievous delight at solving the sort of unusual problems that are part of day to day life in Basra, usually achieved through some unconventional use of military equipment. His infectious pleasure at resolving these problems was recognised by us all and had a huge impact on morale.
I also witnessed at first hand his bravery after a night-time rocket attack in January 2008 that damaged a large number of our vehicles. Under the distinct threat of further attacks, Sergeant Barwood and 2 colleagues identified which vehicles had sustained damage and who the vehicles belonged to. Their outstanding efforts that night set the tone for the way in which the Mechanical Transport Section would work to overcome the extraordinary challenges of the next few days.
By morning, a plan had been formulated and mission-critical vehicles were resourced or reallocated in order to keep 903 Expeditionary Air Wing functioning as normal. Sergeant Barwood and his team’s efforts that week earned the Personal Commendation of the Air Officer Commanding 83 Expeditionary Air Group.
The thoughts of us all are with Sergeant Barwood’s family at this time.
Flight Lieutenant Tom Cousins, Officer Commanding Supply & Mechanical Transport Flight on 903 Expeditionary Air Wing said:
Baz was an exceptional leader, whose friendly and flexible approach ensured that he had the respect of all who came in contact with him. I had only known Baz for 3 months, but it was a privilege to have worked with him, and an honour that I was able to call him my friend.
“No task was ever insurmountable, and the impact that he had made on 903 Expeditionary Air Wing since his deployment had been significant. His ever-present smile will be sorely missed by all.
On return from Op TELIC, Baz was due to be posted to the Recruit Training Squadron at RAF Halton. Like everything else that he did, he would have excelled in this environment, passing on his knowledge and high personal standards to the new recruits.
Our sincerest condolences go to his wife and daughters at this difficult time, he often talked about you with immense pride and you clearly meant a great deal to him.
Corporal Ed Way RAF, a junior Non-Commissioned Officer Mechanical Transport Control on 903 Expeditionary Air Wing, said:
I have known Baz Barwood for 10 years, throughout that time he has been the most professional, loyal and committed Serviceman that I have ever met.
“His guidance to me and all who have been fortunate to work with him has been second-to-none. He was a caring, honest and refreshingly genuine person who will always be remembered.”
Defence Secretary Des Browne said:
I am deeply saddened by the death of such a brave and exceptional leader. The tributes from his colleagues are testament to his courage and popularity. My thoughts are with Sergeant Barwood’s family, friends and colleagues. He will be sorely missed by all those who knew him well.