Families share heartbreak over soldiers' deaths

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The Independent Online

The husband of Cpl Sarah Bryant, the first woman soldier killed in Afghanistan, spoke of his grief yesterday as it emerged that a nurse and a fireman were among the SAS reservists killed or injured in the same attack.

Carl Bryant, who is also in the Army, said: "She was an awesome soldier who died doing the job she loved. Although I am devastated beyond words at the death of my beautiful Sarah, I am so incredibly proud of her."

The couple, who were both corporals in the Intelligence Corps, had spent just six months together since their wedding two and half years ago because of deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The three other soldiers who were killed when a mine exploded 10 miles east of the British base at Lashkar Gar were L/Cpl Richard Larkin, 39, who is believed to have been a nurse and the father of young children, Trooper Paul Stout, 31, and Cpl Sean Reeve, 28. A fifth soldier, who was injured, is a fireman who has a brother serving with the SAS.

Sarah Bryant was a member of 15 Psychological Operations Group, based at Chicksands, Bedfordshire. Her tasks involved acting as a Pashtu translator and training Afghan forces to search female suspects, as well as working with schools and women's groups. She had just been selected to be promoted to sergeant.

Her husband said: "She was funny, kind, and the most amazing person to be around. I will never stop being thankful for the time I spent as her husband. I love her now and always, with all my heart."

Cpl Bryant's mother, Maureen Feely, said: "She gave it everything and she paid the ultimate price, but I'm so, so proud of what she's done and what she achieved. I just hope everybody remembers her that way that she was."

Her father, Des Feely, added: " There are so many people both in the military and locally where she grew up that are not only going to be touched by this but also devastated at the loss of such a beautiful girl."

The officer commanding the Psychological Operations Support Element (PSE), Lt Commander Shamus MacLean, said Cpl Bryant was "more than equal" to her male colleagues and had "never ceased to push herself in the pursuit of her objectives".

L/Cpl Larkin had told friends that he was going to leave the TA when he returned from Afghanistan because he wasn't seeing enough of his family.

The reservists were providing protection for members of the Royal Military Police training the Afghan police. They were on their way to their base when their vehicle detonated a mine.

The nurse, the corporal and the trooper

L/Cpl Richard Larkin, 39, was a member of 23 SAS. He was a nurse in his civilian life and was married with children

"He was a beloved husband, father, son and brother whose tragic death will be deeply mourned by his family, friends and colleagues."

Cpl Sean Reeve, 28, Royal Signals, serving on attachment to 23 SAS

"A dearly loved son, brother, godparent, uncle, grandson and friend who was loving, loyal, honourable, selfless and gentle. A pillar of strength... taken from us, but not forgotten."

Trooper Paul Stout, 31, who was married with children, was serving with 23 SAS

"Paul was a loving father and devoted husband. He was a wonderful son and brother and will be greatly missed by all his family and friends. Our lives will be changed forever by this loss."