1. ITV Report

Tributes for fallen Leeds soldier Sapper Richard Walker

Sapper Richard Reginald Walker Photo: Ministry of Defence

The family of 23-year-old Sapper Richard Reginald Walker, a father of one, have said he was a "proud, patriotic man".

He was shot by a member of the Afghan National Army on Monday.

He was serving with 28 Engineer Regiment, attached to 21 Engineer Regiment as part of the Task Force Helmand Engineer Group.

Sapper Walker was shot in an apparent 'insider attack' by a member of the Afghan National Army at Patrol Base Hazrat in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province.

He was working on a construction task with other military engineers from his troop, as part of the preparations to hand the camp over to Afghan security forces, when the Afghan soldier turned his weapon soldiers at the base.

There were a number of casualties, all of whom were taken to a nearby medical facility where Sapper Walker was pronounced dead.

Tributes have flooded in for Sapper Richard Walker from Leeds, who died in Afghanistan on Monday.

“Richard held two things close to his heart – his daughter and his colleagues in the Army. A proud, patriotic man, he died doing a job he loved, supporting his friends."

– Sapper Walker's family

Sapper Walker was the epitome of a true Sapper, one who would roll up his sleeves and get on with the task in hand no matter what, but importantly he would do it with great humour. He made sure that he made the most of every opportunity, both in the Army and at home; it is without doubt that he had a lot to offer and a bright future.

He was hugely respected as a fit, professional soldier with a massive character. This was his first tour of Afghanistan but anyone would have thought he was a seasoned expert, such was his ability and professionalism.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, including his young daughter Lilly-Faith, at this very difficult time.”

– Lt Col Chas Story, Commanding Officer, 28 Engineer Regiment

“I first met Sapper Walker when he arrived with his Troop to join our Squadron for the forthcoming deployment to Afghanistan. He immediately struck me as a very likeable character; a polite and motivated young soldier who was very keen to deploy on his first operational tour. He saw it as the culmination of all his training and was excited about the prospect of operational service.

“Over the initial months spent in theatre Sapper Walker was a key member of his Troop and was crucial to facilitating every task that they undertook; he had the skill-set to operate a number of critical vehicles. His enthusiasm for his role and the success that the Troop achieved during this time were undoubtedly testament to his professionalism; always keen to be involved, he would give his best at all times even when under considerable pressure.

“Whenever I saw Sapper Walker he always made a point of saying ‘hello’ and I felt that I got to know him better than many other soldiers in the Squadron. I never once doubted his motivation and he always said he was ‘living the dream’. He was a bright, cheerful, fun soldier who was relishing the challenge.

“We in 73 Armoured Engineer Squadron have been hugely privileged to have Sapper Walker’s Troop attached to us and as an individual he was a shining example to all ranks across the board. His positive attitude and excellent performance ensured that he was seen as one of our own, and our heartfelt sympathies go out to all of those in his Troop and also his friends and colleagues in 42 Field Support Squadron and 28 Engineer Regiment back in Germany. He was one of the very best and we are all left feeling hollow and saddened by his loss.

“To his family, there are no amount of words that can reduce the pain of losing such a brave son, brother and doting father to Lilly-Faith. Our deepest condolences are with them at this extremely difficult time.”

– Major Chloe Plimmer, Officer Commanding, 21 Engineer Regiment

“Sapper Richie ‘Guns’ Walker – comrade, friend, father and much-loved son.

“I knew Richie for 3 years and was privileged to be able to call him my best mate. He was thoughtful, funny and a big character in any group he found himself amongst, but he always put others first. He was very wise and mature for such a young lad. I have so many good memories from over the last three years but the one that stands out the most for me was the day that he christened his daughter Lilly-Faith. He was so proud of her; that day I remember him standing that extra inch taller and his smile beaming more than usual.

“You will be sorely missed brother, gone but never forgotten until we meet again at the bar in the sky… RIP”

– Sapper Matthew Cunningham, 8 Troop, 42 Field Squadron, 28 Engineer Regiment