MoD names soldier killed in Helmand

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The Independent Online

A "rising star" of the Army killed in an explosion in Afghanistan was named yesterday as Corporal Joseph Etchells.

Cpl Etchells, 22, from Mossley, Greater Manchester, died on Sunday morning while on foot patrol in Sangin, in northern Helmand province, the Ministry of Defence said.

The engaged father-of-one was serving with The 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and was the 186th UK serviceman to die in Afghanistan.

In an interview given shortly before his death during his third tour in Afghanistan, Cpl Etchells, an Infantry Section Commander responsible for eight men, said: "It's a great job and a big responsibility to have out here but I really enjoy it.

"I can't see myself ever wanting to do anything else."

Tributes today described him as "a born leader" who was looking forward to marrying his fiancee, Julie.

Fusiliers Darren Rushton and James Turnbull, 2 Platoon A Company 2 RRF, described Cpl Etchells as an "outstanding soldier" and "a born leader" who "left a massive gap in the Company which will never be filled".

"He would always talk about his fiancee and how he couldn't wait to get married to the woman of his dreams and watch their daughter grow up," they said in a statement.

Cpl Tariq Malin, Section Commander A Company, 2 RRF, said Cpl Etchells added: "He would always speak about his family back home and how proud he was of his fiancee and daughter who he loved dearly."

Cpl Etchells loved sport, particularly running, during his time at Mossley Hollins High School and chose a career which allowed him to stay fit.

He had represented his Battalion and Garrison at cricket and was an active member of the Battalion cross country team.

Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Calder, Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, described him as "a remarkable young man" who showed a gift for soldiering.

"His enthusiasm, determination, loyalty and professionalism would have seen him progress with ease through the ranks."

Warrant Officer Class 2 Wayne Caffrey, Company Sergeant Major, A Company 2 RRF, 2 Rifles Battle Group said Cpl Etchells was "the complete soldier" and "a rising star".

"There was nothing he was scared of, or incapable of doing.

"It is such a tragic shame that we never got to see him in the Warrant Officers' and Sergeants' mess. He was capable of so much more, but we will never know."

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 Rifles Battle Group, said Cpl Etchells was "one of those heroic men who never made a fuss".

"He has made a real difference for the benefit of the Afghan people here," he added.

Lieutenant Alan Williamson, Platoon Commander, 3 Platoon, A Company, 2RRF, 2 Rifles Battle Group, described Cpl Etchells as "a commander of huge potential".

"It was a real pleasure to work with such an enthusiastic individual who really did love his job, often heard to say 'I live for this stuff'," he added.

"He truly was one in a million."

Bob Ainsworth, Secretary of State for Defence, said: "Cpl Joseph Etchells was clearly a soldier dedicated to his men and put their wellbeing ahead of his own.

"His physical fitness and his ability to soldier was first class and he was clearly held in high regard by his seniors, peers and men under his command.

"His loss will be keenly felt by all who knew him and my thoughts are with his family and his fiancee and daughter."