Saturday, August 22, 2009
Picture - 2 Royal Welsh soldiers boarding a UK Chinook
THOUSANDS of people lined the streets of the Welsh capital today to welcome home troops from their latest tour of Afghanistan.
Soldiers from Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh, marched from Cardiff’s City Hall to the grounds of Cardiff Castle where a ceremony is being held in their honour.
The soldiers have recently returned from six months of fighting in Afghanistan and took part in Operation Panther’s Claw during a bloody tour that claimed the life of one of their comrades.
Lance Corporal Christopher Harkett, 22, from Pontardawe, Swansea, was killed in a blast near Musa Qala, in Northern Helmand, on March 14.
L/Cpl Harkett, whose family are at today’s ceremony, was deployed to Afghanistan as a sniper after two tours in Iraq.
At the time of his death, fellow soldiers described how he died after moving ahead to allow colleagues to advance.
This afternoon, a commemorative service was followed by the presentation of the Elizabeth Cross and Victoria Scroll to LCpl Harkett’s family.
Speaking at the event early this afternoon, First Minister Rhodri Morgan said: “It is an incredible honour for me to welcome back C Company the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh on behalf of the people of Wales.
“Behind every soldier is a family, behind every family is a village and behind every village is Wales.
“We thank you.”
Commanding officer Major Nigel Crewe-Read said: “I think the overriding feeling we’ve had is success, and not without sacrifices and L/Cpl Christopher Harkett and his family are at the forefront of our minds.”
C-Company helped secure territory in Helmand province ahead of this week’s elections as part of 19 Light Brigade.
Maj Crewe-Read added: “We’ve defeated the Taliban whenever we’ve come across them and then seen the Afghan population get back up and running, re-establish schools, have power supplies, and we’ve ensured the Afghan security forces take ownership of the situation.
“We can reflect on a job well done.”