The perfect soldier, but it couldnt save him in Afghanistan

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Skynet, Nov 16, 2007.

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  1. THE SCOTSMAN
    The perfect soldier, but it couldn't save him in Afghanistan

    ADMIRED by his peers as a soldiers' soldier, Captain John McDermid surprised no-one when he volunteered for frontline duty, offering to use his 24 years of army experience to train Afghan troops.

    Yesterday, as news of the Scot's death in an explosion reached home, military figures lined up to pay tribute to the "exceptional soldier, man and father."

    Capt McDermid, 43, of the Royal Highland Fusiliers was serving with the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Yorkshire Regiment, leading a joint mission with the Afghan National Army, when he was killed by an improvised explosive device in Sangin, southern Helmand, on Wednesday.

    The Ministry of Defence said he had been mentoring an Afghan National Army officer in the leadership and infantry skills the country needed.

    The Glasgow-born soldier leaves behind his wife, Gill, and three children. His family said they were devastated.

    "Every one who knew John knew how loving, dedicated, strong, hilarious and truly wonderful he was. Although very much a family man, John's sense of duty and responsibility were never overlooked," a family spokesman said.

    Last night colleagues expressed their admiration for his determination to use his considerable skills and experience to equip troops in Afghanistan. It seemed a natural move when Capt McDermid, described as having soldiering in his blood, asked to be deployed to Afghanistan.

    He had previously inspired recruits at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where he been an instructor and was said to have excelled.

    Although he was only posted to a staff appointment at Sandhurst in early 2007, within a few months he felt compelled to volunteer for operational service in Afghanistan.

    Shortly afterwards he was attached to 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment as a member of the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team, tasked with training the Afghan National Army. The role made him responsible for developing the leadership and infantry skills of platoon or company commanders.

    His career spanned 24 years. He rose to the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major before being commissioned as an officer three years ago, determined to make a difference to the Afghan people.

    He had already served in Berlin, Canada, Kenya, Cyprus, Northern Ireland and Belize, and had conducted two tours in Bosnia and one in Kosovo. A tour in Iraq cemented his standing as a hugely experienced, skilled, knowledgeable and capable soldier.

    His performance at the Royal Highland Fusiliers, where he was promoted to Regimental Sergeant Major in 2002, was described as outstanding.

    Capt McDermid was leading a patrol when it was caught in the blast. An Afghan interpreter who was accompanying him was also badly injured in the explosion and has been receiving treatment, the MoD confirmed.

    Last night, military leaders paid tribute Capt McDermid, describing his distinguished career and professionalism.

    Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, said: "Capt McDermid's death is terribly sad, and at this difficult time my thoughts are with his friends and family. An enormously capable and clearly popular officer, he will be sadly missed . We owe Capt McDermid a debt of gratitude, both for the important work he volunteered to do in Afghanistan and for his many years of service in the Royal Highland Fusiliers."

    Lieutenant Colonel Paul Harkness MBE, commanding officer of the Royal Highland Fusiliers, the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, said Capt McDermid had represented everything that was special about the army and the Royal Highland Fusiliers.

    "From fusilier to regimental sergeant major, his 21-year service as a soldier was notable for its professionalism, commitment and loyalty. His exceptional qualities led to him being commissioned into the regiment that he loved and into which he had devoted so much of his time and energy. His exceptional talents remained evident amongst the regimental family.

    "He loved the army and everything that it represented. It came as no surprise to those who knew him that he had volunteered to go to Afghanistan as soldiering was in his blood.

    "Held in the highest regard by all ranks, he occupied a unique place in everyone's hearts and minds. His death will leave a gap in all our lives that will never be filled."

    Lt-Col Simon Downey MBE, commanding officer, 2nd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment, where Capt McDermid had served since September, described him as "an exceptional soldier, officer and man".

    "Deeply able, hugely energetic, and an accomplished, compassionate and encouraging leader, he rose rapidly through the ranks from private soldier to captain, excelling at every stage."

    Capt McDermid had been "good natured, good company but with an inner steel. He was a very popular and key member of the mentoring team.

    "Whether it was training the Afghans or commanding on operations, he was always at the forefront - seeking the best, encouraging and re-assuring those around him and leading by example. His command in Sangin was simply inspirational."

    He had been determined to make a difference to the Afghan people, Lt-Col Downey added.

    Major Barrie Terry, 2nd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment, said Capt McDermid had been at the forefront of every operation.

    "Typically, he volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan and join the combat support operational mentoring liaison team."

    TOLL NOW EQUAL TO FALKLANDS
    THE death of Captain John McDermid brings the number of British military fatalities in Afghanistan and Iraq combined to 255 - which equals the number killed during the Falklands war.

    Some 84 personnel, including seven Scots, have been killed in Afghanistan since the start of operations in November 2001.

    Of those killed, 26 died from accidents, illness, or non-combat injuries, according to the Ministry of Defence.

    The number of troops killed from the NATO/US-led coalition forces, which includes Canada, Spain and Germany, now stands at 731.

    In Iraq, there have been 171 deaths, 16 of them Scots, since the 2003 invasion
     
  2. No better priase than that. A sad loss for the Army as a whole by the sounds of it.

    I like the idea of him "inspiring" troops at Sandhurst, nice way of saying beasting I suppose.
     
  3. Johnny McDermid was my first term CSgt at Sandhurst. I have nothing but the highest praise for him - a 'wee man' with the heart of a lion who epitomised the ideal of the tough, aggressive Jock NCO. His sense of humour was tremendous and very Glaswegian - he enjoyed an easy rapport with his OCdts and liked nothing better than to get stuck into some banter with us, delivered at a rapid rate in fluent Jockinese.

    Thanks for the early lessons Johnny. Rest easy - 'McDermid's Marauders' salute you.

    This follows the death earlier this year of Capt Sean Dolan - my CSgt instructor at PCD. I suddenly feel very old and tired.
     
  4. Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, said: "Capt McDermid's death is terribly sad, and at this difficult time my thoughts are with his friends and family. An enormously capable and clearly popular officer, he will be sadly missed . We owe Capt McDermid a debt of gratitude, both for the important work he volunteered to do in Afghanistan and for his many years of service in the Royal Highland Fusiliers."

    Now lets hope that Browne, and the government with that, will honour this debt to the captain and those he leaves behind.