British army bomb disposal expert killed in Afghanistan

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A British soldier has been killed in a bomb explosion in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, according to an announcement from the Ministry of Defence on Wednesday. The soldier, who came from Braintree, in the English county of Essex, has been named as 28-year-old Corporal Loran Owen Christopher Marlton-Thomas. He was an army bomb disposal expert who was from 33 Engineer Regiment. He had joined the British Army in 1998.

Loren was clearing explosive devices in the Gerishk District of the Helmand Province in the country on Sunday when a bomb explosion seriously injured him. He died on Monday. With the death of this soldier, the total number of military personnel that have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001 has increased to 234. Nicola, the wife of the bomb disposal expert, said: "Loren was Army-barmy right back to being a Cadet. He did the job he loved and paid the ultimate price for his friends, comrades and country. We are proud to say we knew and loved him. A true hero in our eyes — you may be gone but you will never ever be forgotten." She married the soldier, who was nicknamed "Loz", in June 2008.

Loren's mother also spoke of her grief. "I'm devastated. I just can't take in what has happened. All his photos are around the house and I don't want to think that I won't see him again," she commented. "Loren was due home at the end of this month for two weeks and we were planning an early Christmas before he went back. He was coming out of Afghanistan for good in March."

Not long before his death, the soldier himself spoke to BBC News about his occupation. "Each time we go out, we see a broad spectrum of devices, so it can be from the rudimentary devices all the way to quite well put together component parts," said Loren. "For the lads who are doing the searching, the colour has drained from their faces quite a few times. For myself, I'm a little further back but still I'm worrying about the guys on the ground so for me it is nerve-wracking as well."

Lieutenant Colonel David Southall is the Commanding Office of 33 Engineer Regiment. He spoke of Loren: "[He] was a man of great courage and commitment, a gifted Junior NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) who was truly passionate about his profession. He revelled in his Search Team Commander role, with skills honed on operations in both Northern Ireland and Iraq. 'Loz' was one of life's optimists who always led from the front; whatever the challenge, you would always find him right in the thick of it. His role, in leading teams to find Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), was undeniably amongst the toughest in Helmand province. Despite this, Loz was one of the most irrepressible and positive Junior Commanders I have met. With a smile on his face, his natural charm, confidence and soldiering skill meant men followed him instinctively. Loz made the ultimate sacrifice whilst striving to rid Afghanistan of IEDs and make the country a safer place for both our troops and the Afghan people. Our thoughts are with his wife, Nicola, and family; we share their grief. Loz will not be forgotten."