Wife pays tribute to hero soldier Gareth killed in 'cowardly attack' (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Wife pays tribute to hero soldier Gareth killed in 'cowardly attack'
The wife of a hero soldier killed in a “cowardly” attack by a rogue Afghan policeman has paid tribute to her “brave, hard-working and loving husband”.
Married father-of-two Sergeant Gareth Thursby was shot dead in the south of Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province, on Saturday only six days before his 30th birthday.
He was killed alongside his colleague, Private Thomas Wroe, of the 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington’s) at a checkpoint by a man who dressed as a local Afghan policeman who pretended to be injured so they would help him, defence sources said.
Sgt Thursby, of Skipton , is survived by his wife Louise and two children, Joshua and Ruby.
Mrs Thursby said: “Gareth was the love of my life. He was an amazing husband and father, happy, full of life and kind-hearted, with a passion for his work and family. He was brave, hard working, a loving husband who was a devoted father to his children. Our hero.”
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond condemned the nature of attack.
He said: “I was saddened to hear of this cowardly act by a man wearing an Afghan local police uniform, which has taken the lives of two brave British soldiers. All of our thoughts are with the families of Sergeant Gareth Thursby and Private Thomas Wroe. They gave their lives protecting Britain’s national security, helping to make sure that Afghanistan never again becomes a haven for international terrorism.”
Yesterday, the school’s head teacher Dr Andrew Cummings said Sgt Thursby was remembered by staff as a very talented sportsman.
“He was always ‘in the thick of it’ and enjoyed the competitive side of life,” Dr Cummings said.
“He was a fearless sportsman, but also had a strong instinct to help others.
“The Army was always his passion. During his school career he was also a member of the Skipton Army Cadet Force and joined the Army upon leaving school.”
Dr Cummings said the school hoped to organise its own tribute to Sgt Thursby and would contact his family to whom it sent sincere condolences.
Nicknamed Bull because of his strength and confidence, Sgt Thursby was praised by his commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Zachary Stenning: “He was admired and deeply respected by his soldiers and peers for his soldiering skills, physical strength and forthright honesty. Utterly professional, his standards were legendary.”
He added: “I heard just a few weeks ago that he had told his platoon to call him Dad during the tour. That is how he saw himself; a father figure for 30 men and women involved in gruelling operations in Helmand.”
Skipton MP Julian Smith said his thoughts were with Sgt Thursby’s family. He said: “It is moving to read the many tributes which have been paid to a hugely respected figure in The Yorkshire Regiment.
“The work that Sergeant Thursby was undertaking in Afghanistan was vital in ensuring our national security and his sacrifice will never be forgotten.”
Pte Wroe was deployed to Afghanistan on July 1, shortly after his 18th birthday. He is survived by his parents, Michael and Claire, and sister Demi, from Holmfirth, near Huddersfield.
His family said in a statement: “Our son Thomas was a brave young soldier, who is loved by his family, girlfriend and friends.
“We can’t believe you have been taken so soon from us. You will always be in our hearts for ever and ever.”
The soldier, who joined the Army in September 2010, was praised for his professional skills and positive attitude.
His company commander, Major Finlay Bibby, said: “His confidence, sense of humour and ever-present smile made him hugely popular and fun to be with.”
He added: “He was an extremely talented soldier who was fulfilling his dream by serving with the battalion on operations, the same battalion that his father served with.”
The Ministry of Defence said an investigation was under way into the circumstances of the soldiers’ deaths.
The number of members of UK forces to have died since operations in Afghanistan began in October, 2001 now stands at 430.