Four Hampshire servicemen killed in Afghanistan

Prime Minister David Cameron has paid tribute to five British military personnel who were killed when a Lynx helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan.

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  1. Richard Slee

Tributes for Hampshire servicemen killed in Afghanistan

Family and friends have been paying tribute, today, to the five servicemen killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. They were, they said, dedicated, professional, full of life. Four of the men - fathers and husbands - were based at RAF Odiham in Hampshire.

The Ministry of Defence says the crash was a "tragic accident" - the worst involving a British helicopter in Afghanistan since the campaign began in 2001.

The Lynx helicopter came down during routine training in southern Afghanistan - in the Takhta Pul district close to Kandahar Airfield.

Defence experts have denied claims by the Taliban that they shot it down - and believe the crash was caused by a technical problem. Richard Slee reports.

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Afghan helicopter crash victims remembered by those who served with them and their families and friends

Captain Thomas Ellis Clarke of the Army Air Corps Credit: PA/MOD

Captain Thomas Ellis Clarke of the Army Air Corps, one of the five service personnel that died when a Lynx helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan yesterday.

Photo of Lance Corporal Oliver Matthew Thomas Credit: MOD/PA

Also among those killed was Lance Corporal Oliver Matthew Thomas of 3 Military Intelligence Battalion, Intelligence corps.

Corporal James Walter also died in the helicopter crash. Credit: MOD/PA

Corporal James Walters of the Army Air Corps who was another serviceman who died when the Lynx helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Spencer Faulkner Credit: MOD/PA

Warrant Officer Class 2 Spencer Faulkner of the Army Air Corps who was also based at RAF Odiham also died in the crash, which is believed to have been an accident and not caused by enemy action.

The Station Commander described the men based at RAF Odiham in north Hampshire as "professional and enthusiastic". He said everyone at the base mourned the loss of capable and dedicated personnel, who served without complaint and in full understanding of the risks associated with their roles.

Captain Clarke, 30, from Cowbridge, was described as a "rising star" in the AAC and a man who was " full of life and immensely committed to his soldiers and friends". The captain, who leaves behind wife Angie, enlisted in May 2007, undertaking officer training at Sandhurst.

Flight Lieutenant Chauhan, 29, from Birmingham, was on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan as an intelligence officer when he died. Known as Rak to his friends, he was described as "bright, articulate, charismatic and loyal".

His commanding officer said: "Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan was a hugely influential and well respected officer whose enthusiasm and professionalism permeated every aspect of his work.

Warrant Officer Faulkner, 38, was an "experienced aviator, loving husband and hugely dedicated father to two children" who had been deployed to Afghanistan on numerous occasions. He first joined the Army as a Royal Engineer geographic technician in September 1992.

His commanding officer gave him a glowing tribute, describing him as "a stalwart of the Squadron for many years". His family said: "Spen was a loving husband to Cally and devoted father to Natasha and Jack, and will be greatly missed."

Corporal Walters, 36, known as Bungle, was a "highly respected" junior non-commissioned officer and "consummate professional" who had deployed to Afghanistan on numerous occasions.

The commander for the deployed Lynx detachment said: "Cpl James Walters was a loyal, dependable and extremely professional aviator who was a privilege to command."

Lance Corporal Thomas, 26, from Brecon in Powys, Mid Wales, was "young, enthusiastic and highly capable".

Having first joined as an Army Reservist in June 2011 and joined 3 Military Intelligence Battalion in July 2012 , he volunteered for deployment to Afghanistan and arrived there in December.

His family said: "Oliver was a truly amazing person, living his life to the full, while fulfilling some of his many dreams and adventures.

"He was very much loved and will be greatly missed by his grieving family and friends."

The aircraft went down yesterday morning in the Takhta Pul district of Kandahar, some 30 miles from the Pakistan border, in what was the worst incident involving a British military helicopter in Afghanistan since the war began there in 2001.

Hampshire-based servicemen killed in Afghan helicopter crashed are named by the Ministry of Defence

Five British servicemen killed when the Lynx helicopter they were travelling in crashed in southern Afghanistan have been named by the Ministry of Defence.

Captain Thomas Clarke, Warrant Officer Spencer Faulkner, Corporal James Walters, all of the Army Air Corps (AAC) lost their lives together with Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan of the Royal Air Force and Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas of the Intelligence Corps.

Their aircraft went down in Kandahar province during a routine flight yesterday morning.

I am extremely saddened to hear of the loss of Captain Thomas Clarke, Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan, Warrant Officer Spencer Faulkner and Corporal James Walters, all who served at Royal Air Force Odiham.

My deepest sympathies are with their families and friends at this most difficult time, and also with the family of Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas, who was not from Royal Air Force Odiham but who was also on the Lynx aircraft."

– Group Captain Richard Maddison, Station Commander at RAF Odiham

Prayers for servicemen killed in Afghanistan

An investigation is underway after five servicemen died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan - four of them were from RAF Odiham in Hampshire. The crash happened yesterday during a routine flight in the Kandahar province.

It's the third biggest single loss of life since the conflict began in 2001. Richard Slee spoke to North East Hampshire MP James Arbuthnot and Major General Richard Felton from the Joint Helicopter Command.

  1. National

Nick Clegg pays tribute to those lost in Afghan crash

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also paid tribute, saying: "Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the five service personnel who have so tragically lost their lives.

(File photo) Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg paid tribute to those lost. Credit: REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

"This incident is a very sad reminder of the vital but dangerous job that our Armed Forces are doing every day to bring security to the people of Afghanistan.

"I would like to pay tribute to their service and to the ultimate sacrifice made by those who died yesterday."

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Afghan helicopter deaths 'reminder' of troops' work

The Taliban often falsely claimed responsibility for the deaths of Nato forces, Foreign Secretary William Hague has said, following the deaths of five British soldiers in southern Afghanistan. Mr Hague told Sky News' Murnaghan programme:

This appears to have been a tragic accident, although it is still being investigated. It is a reminder of the work that our troops still do in Afghanistan.

Of course at the end of this year we will come to an end of the combat role, or having our troops there in any significant numbers. But the work that they do is still dangerous, it is still very valuable in Afghanistan.

Investigators say there'll be a "thorough inquiry" into helicopter crash

The Ministry of Defence has given a further statement over the deaths of five military personnel, killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

It said: "The investigation is now under way, and the area of the crash has been cordoned off.

"We cannot go into further details. At this stage it is not known how long the investigation might last or when investigators will deliver their report, but it will be a thorough inquiry."

Three of the servicemen who died were from the Army Air Corps, based at RAF Odiham in Hampshire.

Prince Harry served as an Apache helicopter commander with the Army Air Corps during his tour of duty in Afghanistan last year.

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