The five British servicemen killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan are named by the Ministry of Defence, which said the crash was the result of a “tragic accident” – not a Taliban attack.
Photo: Corporal James Walters (top left), Warrant Officer Spencer Faulkner (top right), Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas (bottom right) and Captain Thomas Clarke (bottom left). A photo of Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan has not been released.
The families of five “dedicated” British servicemen killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan have paid emotional tributes to their loved ones as they were named by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Captain Thomas Clarke, Warrant Officer Spencer Faulkner and Corporal James Walters, all of the Army Air Corps (AAC) were serving as the Lynx aircraft’s three-man team when they died.
They lost their lives together with Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan of the Royal Air Force and Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas of the Intelligence Corps, who were believed to have been passengers on the flight.
Their helicopter went down in Kandahar province, 30 miles from the border with Pakistan, on Saturday morning.
The MoD has denied claims by the Taliban that insurgents shot the helicopter down, and said that initial investigations indicated a “tragic accident” rather than enemy action as the cause of the crash.
Group Captain Richard Maddison, Station Commander at RAF Odiham, where all of five men except L/Cpl Thomas were based, said: “As with all losses of personnel in Afghanistan, we mourn the loss of our most capable and dedicated personnel, who served without complaint and in full understanding of the risks associated with their roles.
“They were fine ambassadors for their unit and for defence as a whole, and we shall not forget them.”
Capt Clarke, 30, from Cowbridge, south Wales, was a pilot and “rising star” in the AAC who was “full of life and immensely committed to his soldiers and friends”.
WO Faulkner, 38, was an “experienced aviator, loving husband and hugely dedicated father to two children” who had been deployed to Afghanistan on numerous occasions.
Cpl Walters, 36, known as Bungle, was a “highly respected” junior non-commissioned officer who had deployed to Afghanistan on numerous occasions.
Flt Lt Chauhan, 29, from Birmingham, was on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan as an intelligence officer when he died. Known as Rak to his comrades, he was said to be “charming, funny and sharp as a tack”.
L/Cpl Thomas, 26, from Brecon in Powys, Mid Wales, had volunteered for deployment to Afghanistan and arrived there in December last year. His family described him as a “truly amazing person, living his life to the full, while fulfilling some of his many dreams and adventures”.