With deep regret, the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Captain Mark Hale and Rifleman Daniel Wild of the 2nd Battalion The Rifles (2 Rifles) and Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton of 40th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Lowland Gunners) were killed in Afghanistan on Thursday 13 August 2009.
Captain Mark Hale
Captain Mark Hale was born on 9 April 1967 in Bournemouth. He joined the Army in 1983, aged 16, as a Junior Leader and embarked on an exceptional career with the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment that took him on operations to Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and then, with 2nd Battalion The Rifles, to Afghanistan.
One of the outstanding soldiers of his generation, he found his calling in the Reconnaissance Platoon, where he spent much of his career.
He was promoted to Company Serjeant Major in London on ceremonial duties and then had a brief spell as Regimental Serjeant Major.
Selected for a commission, he managed the careers of almost 1000 soldiers in the 1st Battalion The Rifles as four regiments merged to form The Rifles in 2007.
He then moved to the 2nd Battalion as the Motor Transport Officer and then became the Battle Group Logistics Officer for operations in Afghanistan this summer.
Capt Hale was fiercely fit; he loved cycling, rowing and rugby. He was a genuine thinker, had studied at the Open University for a degree and then took a Masters in Psychology.
He was a devoted husband adored by his wife Brenda and a loving and exceptional father to his 2 daughters. He died in hospital at Camp Bastion on 13 August 2009after being caught in an IED explosion while helping an injured soldier to safety whilst on patrol near Sangin.
Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battle Group said:
"It is almost impossible to know where to start when writing a tribute to a man as brave, huge and full-on as Mark Hale. He oozed quality, humanity and had a tremendous and mischievous sense of fun, which frequently lightened the load of this extraordinary tour.
"He was 'undentable' and we in 2 Rifles have invented this new word in honour of Mark. Nothing phased him, however demanding the situation, and his ability to absorb work, pressure and other people's worries was genuinely legendary. That is what 'undentable' now means.
"As the Battle Group's Logistics Officer, Mark has been supreme on this complex, intense and dangerous tour. He sorted out big issues easily and with no fuss and he dealt with a host of annoying, CO type questions of detail, with enviable patience.
"I knew when a task had his name ascribed to it that that task was as good as done already. I kept giving him more work and he kept on delivering. He has been superb counsel to me and, much more importantly, to countless Riflemen who have hunted him out for a chat.
"On the ground, he breathed courage into the platoons he served alongside. Mark was an outstanding Rifleman - fiercely intelligent, always creating novel options, often well outside his logistic lane, and committed like no other.
"It is entirely typical of this man that he died whilst helping to evacuate wounded soldiers. Mark understood the importance and the urgency of the work in this place in spades - one could see that from the amount he crammed into each day.
"But he was more than just an extraordinary professional, he was a truly great man, a devoted husband and an adored father. He had a strong Christian faith, even standing in as the Padre for one of our church services here in Sangin.
"Mark wasn't a fifth gear man, he was a sixth gear merchant. Us mortals could rarely keep up. When we rowed on ergo machines from Sangin to Pegasus Bridge in April, May and June to raise money for wounded soldiers, he led the way; on one inhuman session, he rowed 42,000 metres. To him, it was just another challenge but it gives you a feel for the mark of the man.
"The hole he has left in our lives is enormous but we know that our grief is nothing compared to what his dear, beloved family is going through.
"But this should be some comfort. Mark Hale, a man of true Christian faith, died doing a job he loved and was embarked on a mission that has national levels of importance and urgency. Our hearts go out to his family - we are holding them very close in our prayers.
"Mark, I promise you that your baton here has not been dropped - it is held high.
Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton
Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton was killed in action on Thursday 13 August 2009, when he was caught in an Improvised Explosive Device blast whilst on foot patrol as part of Op GHARTSE KERS 4, providing security for a pre-election shura in the Sangin area of Helmand province.
He had suffered injury in an initial blast which had sadly killed Rifleman Wild and, whilst trying to clear an extraction route to the Helicopter Landing Site, was caught in a second blast in which he was fatally wounded.
Lance Bombardier Hatton was born on 15 June 1986 and was from Easingwold in North Yorkshire. He joined 40th Regiment Royal Artillery (the Lowland Gunners) on 21 January 2004 after completion of his Basic Training at the Army Foundation College Harrogate and Phase 2 Training at Larkhill, Wiltshire.
After an initial tour in 49 (Inkerman) Headquarters Battery, he was posted to 6/36 (Arcot 1751) Battery, immediately establishing himself as a highly popular character within a very close knit Tactical Group. Having previously completed operational tours in Iraq and Cyprus, he completed Pre-Deployment Training for Afghanistan and subsequently deployed with the 2 RIFLES Battle Group in March 2009 as an Observation Post Assistant, initially to the Kajaki area of operations and subsequently south, to Sangin where he was bolstering the in place Fire Support Team (FST) when he was tragically killed.
The role of an Observation Post Assistant is a demanding one and requires a special breed of soldier. The job requires initiative, foresight, composure under extreme pressure, clarity of thought, physical and mental robustness and tactical awareness.
LBdr Hatton epitomised these qualities and possessed an enthusiasm for his work which was clear for all to see. He was often to be found in his room at night reading his Operational Procedures (OP) cribs in order to better understand the technical aspects of his profession, much to the amusement of his friends in the Battery, or in the Gym working hard on his fitness in order to ensure that he would be ready in all respects when the time came.
He had begun his career in 40th Regiment Royal Artillery as a Battlefield Meteorological System (BMETS) operator, responsible for providing the meteorological data that a Light Gun requires in order to fire accurately.
However, it was indicative of his character and desire to be at the forefront of the action so he sought a posting to a Fire Support Team. He was a man who thrived on being at the forefront of everything that his Battery and Regiment were involved in and it was in this spirit that he deployed to Kajaki with his FST and his comrades from the 2 RIFLES Battle Group.
In perhaps the most austere and kinetic corner of Helmand Province, his orchestration of Joint Fires was truly exceptional. On his return from Helmand province, it was his wish to attempt the arduous patrols course and become a member of 4/73 Battery Royal Artillery; further testament to the sheer enjoyment and satisfaction he derived from soldiering, and soldiering well.
A young man with a winning smile and a heart of gold LBdr Matthew Hatton was one of the best of us. The distress of the Regiment is second only to that of his mother Jill, father Philip and his girlfriend Tasha Chehab. Our thoughts are with them.
Rifleman Daniel Wild
Rifleman Daniel Wild of the 2nd Battalion The Rifles (2 Rifles) was killed near Forward Operating Base Jackson, in Sangin in Afganistan on Thursday 13th August 2009.
Rifleman Daniel Wild was born on 18 July 1990 in Hartlepool. He joined the Army in 2007 conducting his phase one training at ATR Bassingbourne and completing his Phase 2 training at the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick.
He joined 2nd Battalion The Rifles in May 2008. Too young to deploy to Kosovo last summer, he seized the opportunity to deploy on exercise to Canada with 5 RIFLES instead. He excelled there despite his apparent lack of experience, receiving outstanding reports from all he worked with.
On his return to the Battalion he threw himself wholeheartedly into pre-deployment training, determined to excel when he finally got his chance on operations. He passed many courses with distinction including the Team Medic Cadre qualifying him to administer life saving first aid whilst patrolling in Helmand.
He was an exceptional shot, both with the Rifle and machine gun. He died in an IED explosion on 13th August 2009 whilst helping another soldier to safety in Sangin. Rifleman Wild leaves behind his loving mother, his sister, Megan, and his brothers, Dale and Christopher.
Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said:
"Rifleman Wild was an epic Rifleman who has been right at the very front of our fight here in Sangin. He has been fearless and his Platoon adored him for it. He was smaller than most (smaller than everyone, if I am being honest) and, when laden, appeared to disappear under the extraordinary burden the boys all carry here.
"But Rifleman Wild carried his load lightly and was in no sense a 'small man'. In a land of metaphorical giants here in Sangin, he was as tall as any of them, perhaps more so.
"He was always the lead man in his patrol; he got on with facing that risk every day without any complaint. He was selfless to a fault, everyone else, whatever their rank, came first and his nature was to hunt out the funny side of life.
"He has saved life here because, as point man, he was always on the look out for IEDs and it is tragic but typical that he died helping to carry a wounded friend to a helicopter landing site for evacuation. He had so much to offer - his next target was to be a PT buster in my gym and he had the lungs and legs for it. Few could keep up with him.
"Rifleman Wild will be sorely, sorely missed but we will never forget his sacrifice. He has given his life for his comrades, for our nation and for the people of Afghanistan. And we will celebrate the richness of his life.
"Our first prayers and thoughts must now be with his adored family and friends. We pray that somehow they can find strength in this desperately awful time."