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Salute to fallen soldiers
LANCE Corporal Matt Thacker watched his platoon commander repatriated from Afghanistan last week – today he will watch his brother.
Corporal Michael Thacker, from 1st Battalion, the Royal Welsh, will be repatriated alongside Private Gregg Stone, from 3rd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment.
Cpl Thacker, 27, of Swindon, was killed on Friday after being hit by small arms fire. He was evacuated by helicopter but could not be saved.
His brother L Cpl Thacker is also serving with 1st Battalion, the Royal Welsh.
He said: “We were more than brothers, we were best friends and words cannot express how much he will be missed. Michael could light up a dark room, always making people laugh because of his great personality.
“He died doing the job that we Thacker brothers love. He is a true hero.”
It was only last Thursday L Cpl Thacker attended the repatriation of his platoon commander, Captain Stephen Healey.
Cpl Thacker’s wife Catherine paid tribute to her late husband. She said: “Michael was the love of my life. He was an amazing husband and father who will always be remembered as a funny, loving and kind man.”
Cpl Thacker joined the 1st Battalion, the Royal Welch Fusiliers, as it was then known, in 2004 after attending Fairwater High School, in Cwmbran, South Wales.
He was on his second tour of Afghanistan, having also served in Iraq and Northern Ireland, when he was killed.
He leaves behind his wife, two-year-old daughter Millie, father David, mother Alison and brothers Matt, Mark and Ashley.
Pte Stone, 20, was on an operation to apprehend insurgents who had abducted an Afghan policeman on Sunday when he was shot and killed.
He had just broken the news to his colleagues that he was going to be a father for the first time.
His wife Samantha said: “Gregg and I were childhood sweethearts and we met at school – he was my soul-mate.
“He was always the one to want to make us laugh – he always cheered everyone up.
“He was proud to be a soldier and for what he had achieved in his work.”
Pte Stone’s family said: “He will always be a true hero in all our hearts.
“Words cannot begin to describe this great loss, and we are exceptionally proud of Gregg for everything he was, has, and still is.”
Major Rob Singleton, the Commanding officer of Burma Company, of the 3rd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment, said: “Pte Gregg Stone was an exceptional young soldier.
“He was utterly professional to his core and an example to other soldiers in the company. Only a few days ago he told me how excited he was at the prospect of becoming a father for the first time.”
Pte Stone, of Hull, in East Yorkshire, joined the army in October 2009 after attending Hornsea Secondary School. He deployed to Afghanistan on May 13.
He leaves his wife, mother Angela, father Robert, brothers Kallum, Jamie and Graeme, and sisters Rosie and Jennie.
- The plane carrying the bodies of the two servicemen will land at RAF Brize Norton at 1.30pm today.
The cortege will pass the memorial garden on the edge of Carterton at about 4.15pm and is expected to arrive at the John Radcliffe at about 5pm.