Helicopter crash servicemen to be repatriated

Helicopter crash servicemen to be repatriated

Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas - "an amazing person."

The bodies of the men will be flown into RAF Brize Norton.

First published in News

THE bodies of five British servicemen killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan - among them Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas who grew up in Kington -  will be repatriated to the UK today.

Oliver - a former head boy at Lady Hawkins School lost his life with fellow passenger  Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan of the Royal Air Force and the three man team on the Lynx aircraft -  Captain Thomas Clarke, Warrant Officer Spencer Faulkner and Corporal James Walters, all of the Army Air Corps (AAC).

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg paid tribute to Oliver last week - before his deployment to Afghanistan, the 26-year-old intelligence specialist had spent some time as a researcher in Parliament for Liberal Democrat MP for Brecon and Radnorshire Roger Williams.

His family released a statement saluting him as a "truly amazing person who lived his life to the full, while fulfilling some of his many dreams and adventures."

Their helicopter went down in Kandahar province, 30 miles from the border with Pakistan, on the morning of April 26.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has denied claims by the Taliban that insurgents shot the helicopter down, with initial investigations indicating a "tragic accident" rather than enemy action as the cause of the crash.

The five servicemen will be flown into RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire before a private ceremony takes place at the air base. The cortege will then pass the Memorial Garden in Carterton before heading to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

The helicopter in which the men were travelling is believed to have been from AAC 657 Squadron, a top unit based at RAF Odiham which provides support and transport for special forces troops.

The aircraft went down in the Takhta Pul district of Kandahar, in what was the worst incident involving a British military helicopter in Afghanistan since the war began there in 2001.

The crash caused the third biggest single loss of life of British troops since the conflict in Afghanistan began and brought the total number of service personnel killed there to 453.

The incident equalled the previous worst disaster involving a British helicopter, when a Lynx aircraft crashed in Basra City, Iraq, in May 2006 killing the five service personnel on board.

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