Tributes to 'Yorkshire Warrior' as Skipton soldier Gareth Thursby is killed in Afghanistan (From Craven Herald)
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Tributes to 'Yorkshire Warrior' as Skipton soldier Gareth Thursby is killed in Afghanistan
8:40am Monday 17th September 2012 in News
A soldier who was killed with his colleague by a man dressed as an Afghan policeman has been named as Sergeant Gareth Thursby, 29, of Skipton.
Married father-of-two Sergeant Thursby and Private Thomas Wroe, 18, were shot dead in the south of Nahr-e Saraj district, Helmand province on Saturday.
They both served in 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington’s).
The men were killed at a checkpoint when a man dressed as a local Afghan policeman pretended to be injured so they would help him, defence sources said.
Sgt Thursby, a former pupil of South Craven School in Cross Hills, is survived by his wife Louise, from Cross Hills, and two children, Joshua and Ruby.
Sgt Thursby was born on September 21, 1982. He joined the British Army on August 3, 1999. After completing his training in early 2000, he joined 1st Battalion The Duke of Wellington's Regiment. His first deployment was to Kosovo in 2003 followed by Iraq in 2005. He passed the Section Commander's Battle Course to qualify for a posting to the Army Training Regiment in Pirbright as an instructor. Subsequently, he returned to the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington's) as a section commander. In October 2010 he was promoted to sergeant and assumed his role as a platoon sergeant in Alma Company.
Sgt Thursby's wife, Louise, paid tribute to him, saying:"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, hardworking, a loving husband who was a devoted father to his children. Our Hero."
Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond 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."
Lieutenant Colonel Zachary Stenning MBE, Commanding Officer, 3 YORKS, said: "We have lost one of our finest, Sergeant Gareth Thursby. His nickname 'Bull' epitomised everything; he was strong, confident and unbelievably robust. 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.
"When there were dangerous moments, it was always Sergeant Thursby who could be found at the front, offering steadying words to his Platoon Commander and the young soldiers. Such dedication and indeed selfless love for his fellow soldiers is remarkable and testament to the qualities of this unique man.
"Our thoughts today though are firmly with his wife, Louise, and his two wonderful children, Joshua and Ruby, who I know he loved and cared so much for."
Major Finlay Bibby, Officer Commanding Alma Company, 3 YORKS, said: "Sergeant Thursby was an inspiring man. His physical stature, extreme professionalism and uncomplicated outlook on life demanded respect, which is exactly what he got from his soldiers. He led from the front and set an example that could not be ignored. He was able to blend strong leadership with a genuine compassion for his men who adored him and referred to him as 'Dad'. More importantly than being a superb soldier he was a devoted father and husband. The thoughts and prayers of Alma Company are with his wife, Louise, and his children, Joshua and Ruby. Sergeant Thursby's broad smile and indomitable spirit will be greatly missed."
Captain Tom Flecchia, Second in Command, Alma Company, 3 YORKS, said: "Sergeant Thursby was a good man and a good soldier. I have worked with him for the past three years and what I admired the most about him was his professionalism. He was the epitome of what a Platoon Sergeant should be. A rock and a leader for his men, he really did lead by example and personally set the standards. He was always there for whoever needed his support. I will miss the way he approached life with an easy grin and sense of humour. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Warrant Officer Class 1 (Regimental Sergeant Major) Darren Szymanski, 3 YORKS, said: "One of life's true characters, Sergeant Gareth Thursby was a devoted father and husband who was respected and admired by all that knew him. Always leading from the front, with a style that was uniquely his own, which never failed to inspire all those that served alongside him. Gareth was a great man, father, husband, friend and role model to all. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Warrant Officer Class 2 (Company Sergeant Major) Duncan Wyeth, Company Sergeant Major, Alma Company, 3 YORKS, said: "Gaz Thursby, if there was one word to sum up this Yorkshire Warrior, it would be 'strong', physically strong. But one word doesn't sum you up. You were also loyal, fiercely proud of your Platoon, highly dependable and also caring, compassionate and always thinking about your men. Most importantly you treasured your wife and children who you spoke about often and couldn't wait to get home to at the end of the working day. I will miss you Gaz."