Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Corporal Dean Thomas John and Corporal Graeme Stiff killed in Afghanistan


It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the deaths of Corporal Graeme Stiff and Corporal Dean John of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in Helmand province on Sunday 15 March 2009.

Both soldiers were members of the Light Aid Detachment of 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards (QDG).

The men had been conducting a vehicle move to the west of Garmsir in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan. Corporals John and Stiff had been travelling in a Jackal patrol vehicle when, at about 1630 hours local time, it was struck by an explosive device and they were both killed.

Corporal Dean Thomas John

Corporal Dean John, aged 25, was born and bred in Neath, South Wales. His hometown is Port Talbot in Wales. He joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) in August 2000 and after passing out of basic training was posted to 12th Regiment Royal Artillery in Germany. His subsequent postings were also to Germany based units: 1st Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards.

He had served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and was on his second tour of Afghanistan as a Vehicle Mechanic in the Fitter Section of A Squadron, QDG. He was married to Wendy and father to three sons - Ethan, Harvey, and Dylan.

Corporal John was the epitome of a REME soldier: enthusiastic, determined, selfless, hardworking and loyal. He was a happy and loveable rogue who could always be found up to his elbows in the engine compartment of any vehicle that even looked like it needed some work.

He had an enormous appetite for hard work and a tenacity that drove him to extraordinary lengths to fix problems. His inquisitive and active mind would analyse why some component had failed and seek a solution to avoid a reoccurrence. His consummate professionalism and wonderfully fun character made him a universally popular and respected member of the Fitter Section, Squadron and Regiment. He had a very bright future, having won an award for being the joint best Non-Commissioned Officer in the Light Aid Detachment of the Queen's Dragoon Guards and receiving a recommendation for Artificer training.

He was an avid motocross fan and had an addiction to anything mechanical. He loved his job and his mates and was never one to miss a party, but he was also a devoted husband and father. In the quieter moments of the tour he would speak lovingly of Wendy and with immense pride of his three boys. He leaves behind a gap in the Regiment, Squadron and Fitter Section that is irreplaceable and an even greater hole in a young family.

Corporal Graeme Stiff

Corporal Graeme Stiff, aged 24, was born in M√ľnster, Germany and came from a military background. Having accompanied his father across the world on various military postings, he enlisted into the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in 2004. After passing out of training, he was posted to 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards, where he served as an Electronics Technician in A Squadron's Fitter Section. He was on his first operational tour when his life was so tragically cut short.

Graeme 'Stiffy' Stiff excelled in his field. He greatly looked forward to deploying to Afghanistan and quickly proved to be a most reliable driver and craftsman in the demanding environment of southern Helmand. He was a hardworking and happy individual who loved his job and the friendships and camaraderie of his team. He revelled in his Corps' motto of 'Arte et Marte' ('By Skill and by Fighting') and was always found tinkering with his Jackal and ensuring that it was ready for action.

He was a shining example of a REME craftsman, working hard and playing hard, and adding every minute to the morale and happiness of the Squadron. He was exceptionally adaptable and in great demand for his expertise, often volunteering to go out on patrol even when exhausted; yet he was still able to improve the morale of those around him.

'Stiffy' was a keen sportsman and a particularly skilful footballer who represented both the REME and QDG at Football. He also enjoyed his time in the gym – either training by himself or 'spotting' for his friends.

He leaves behind his girlfriend Lauren, with whom he was looking forward to spending more time, a loving family, and a host of friends.

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