'Inspirational' British dead are named

Tribute to troops killed on one of the most lethal days for military in Afghanistan
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The Independent Online

Four British servicemen who died in one of the most lethal days in military operations in Afghanistan were named yesterday by the Ministry of Defence. Rifleman Jamie Gunn, Lance-Corporal Paul Upton and Corporal Tom Gaden were killed in a roadside bomb blast and Marine Michael "Mick" Laski died at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham from gunshot injuries he suffered on Monday. That brings the total killed in Afghanistan to 149 service personnel.

Rifleman Gunn, 21, from Monmouth, Monmouthshire; Corporal Upton, 31, from Looe in Cornwall, and Corporal Gaden, 24, from Taunton, Somerset, were all in 1st Battalion The Rifles. The battalion has lost eight men in Afghan-istan in just over two months. Lieutenant-Colonel Ian Blewett, regimental colonel of The Rifles, said the three were "outstanding soldiers", and added that morale remained high among their comrades.

Corporal Upton's brother Leon is also serving in Afghanistan. Their mother, Tina, said: "Paul had his life cut short doing a job he loved and he will be greatly missed by family and friends."

Corporal Gaden had served in Iraq before Afghanistan. His mother, Judy, father, Nick, fiancée, Amanda, sister, Ruth, and brother, Sam, also issued a statement saying: "Tom was an inspiration to the whole family. He was a soldier through and through and the rock that kept our family together. He was very loving, never judged anyone and was always very supportive, nothing was ever too much trouble for him."

Rifleman Gunn's mother, Janet, father, Mervyn, and sister, Jessica, said in a statement: "Jamie's proudest desire was that he wanted to shine in life. He was a funny, popular lad who loved his mates and the girls but most of all we are so proud of our son, brother and grandson who will always shine in our hearts forever."

Marine Laski from Liverpool was on his second tour of Afghanistan when he was wounded in intense action north of Sangin. His patrol had been caught under fire on open ground. He had joined 45 Commando Royal Marines in September 2006 and had taken a specialist signals course. A comrade and friend, Marine Mark Goldsworthy, said: "I worked with Mick day in day out for the past one-and-a-half years and he was a true inspiration to be with. He was a great friend I will sorely miss and never forget. Rest in peace mate: see you in the Big Man's Bar."

Marine Laski's commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Morris said "Bright, quick-witted, incredibly determined and extremely brave he always sought out every opportunity to operate as close to the front line as possible. As a signaller, he was invariably on the shoulder of the company commander in the thick of the fighting, ensuring communications whatever the circumstances."

Gulab Mangal, governor of Helmand province, on a visit to the UK, spoke of the "courage and sacrifice" of British troops. He said: "This is not only for Afghanistan but for the whole world. If Helmand is not secure then Britain is not secure, [and] neither are other parts of the world. If terrorists are based in Helmand they can go to other places."

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