Saturday, August 22, 2009

Serjeant Paul McAleese and Private Jonathon Young killed in Afghanistan

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Serjeant Paul McAleese, of 2nd Battalion the Rifles, and Private Jonathon Young, of The 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington's), were killed in Afghanistan on Thursday 20 August 2009.

The two soldiers were killed following two explosions that happened while they were on a foot patrol taking place in Sangin District, Helmand Province on Thursday morning.

Serjeant Paul McAleese

Serjeant Paul McAleese was born in Hereford on 18 October 1979. He began his Army training in March 1997 and joined the 1st Battalion, The Royal Green Jackets in August. A natural soldier, he rose through the ranks quickly and found his calling in the Sniper Platoon.

As a Rifleman he completed the demanding Close Observation Platoon course before going on to complete the Infantry's gruelling Section Commanders' and Platoon Sergeants' Battle Courses with distinction.

A keen boxer and rugby player, Serjeant McAleese was fit and unbelievably tough. After tours of Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Kosovo, he had relished life in Afghanistan and had been outstanding as a Sniper Team Commander in Kajaki.

Recently moved to take over as a Rifle Platoon Serjeant following the injury of a colleague, he had excelled on the streets of Wishtan, Sangin and had been at the centre of so many of the incidents of the last few weeks.

One of the best of his generation, Serjeant McAleese was destined for truly great things. He died in an IED explosion on 20 August 2009 whilst helping to secure a key thoroughfare in the Sangin area as part of providing security for the elections.

Serjeant McAleese leaves his wife, Jo, and his adored young son, Charley, born just a week before he deployed to Afghanistan.

His wife Jo said:

"Mac, my husband, my best friend, my hero. You were an amazing Daddy to Charley and the best husband I could have ever asked for. We will love you and miss you for ever. We will always be so proud of what you achieved in your life and I am so, so proud to be your wife."

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battle Group said:

"Serjeant McAleese was one of the 'big men' in 2 Rifles whose military prowess was the envy of the rest of the Battalion. He had a huge rucksack full of talents - everyone looked up to him and wanted to be in his team. Militarily, there was nothing that he wasn't good at. He was fearsomely fit, a talented shot and a man who saw this campaign in its wider perspective.

"He had been superb in Iraq, our last encounter with the Queen's enemies, and he had stood very tall. Here in Afghanistan he has fought in Kajaki and in Sangin and died as a Platoon Serjeant, the job of all jobs, on election day, helping to give democracy a chance in Sangin.

"He had so much yet to give - he was on the track to greatness and was one of those men who was destined to promote first time, every time. The rest of us mortals could not keep up.

"His energy levels were unrivalled and he extracted the best out of my Riflemen, especially when sat behind his favourite sniper rifle. In the Serjeants' Mess, he was nothing but delightful and full of appropriately insubordinate mischief - always trying to photograph his fellow Serjeants talking to me.

"It was immensely satisfying to out-manoeuvre him once (I only did manage it once) and ensure he was 'snapped' with me.

"We will miss him dreadfully. There is a huge hole in this Battalion now that Mac has gone. And tonight, after a mad day in Sangin, it is taking time to come to terms with his loss. But, Mac, we are back in the fight. In fact we have been in the fight all day - for you as well as for the people of Sangin.

"Our first prayers now are for Joanne, his adored wife, and Charley, his precious boy of only 4 months, whom he talked about constantly. Be assured, little man, your father was a hero and we will never forget him. We will tell you all about him one day and you will be so proud."

Private Jonathon Young

Private Jonathon Andrew Young was born in Hull on 19 September 1990. He joined the Army on 24th February 2008 and completed his training at Catterick, North Yorkshire, in September 2008 before joining the 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington's) based in Warminster, Wiltshire.

Private Young made an immediate impression for his easy going nature, good humour and faultless manners. In the short time he was in Burma Company he was recognised by all as a popular, capable soldier with great potential.

Burma Company Group were tasked to provide Battle Casualty Replacements for 19 Light Brigade in July 2009 and Private Young was quick to volunteer. He deployed with the rest of his platoon, 6 Platoon, to 2nd Battalion the Rifles on 2nd August 2009.

Since arriving in Sangin, where he and his section reinforced a Platoon still suffering from losses earlier in the tour, he demonstrated all the tenacity and no-nonsense bravery that one would expect from a Yorkshire soldier. Private Young was killed on the Afghan Election Day, 20th August 2009, on patrol near Forward Operating Base Wishtan whilst trying to secure a vital thoroughfare for the people of Sangin.

He leaves behind his mother, Angela; his brother, Carl; his sister, Leah; and his girlfriend Nicola.

His mother and family said:

"John was so handsome. He was a good son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin and boyfriend. He will be loved and missed by all who knew him. We were so proud of our John, he was our brave heart, our Johnny Bravo. Night night Johnny Bravo."

Lieutenant Colonel Tom Vallings, Commanding Officer 3 YORKS said.

"Private Jonathon Young joined us at the 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment in October 2008 just after his 18th birthday. He had already set his mark as a robust and determined soldier who always put his friends first. He had a strength of character that forced him to be at the very centre of events and it was no surprise that he volunteered to deploy at Afghanistan at short notice.

"Private Young had only been in Afghanistan for three weeks when he was tragically killed on patrol in Sangin. Once again, he was selfishly at the forefront of the action a true Yorkshireman: proud, tough and honest. In his 18 years he has made a big impact on those who knew him and served with him. His loss is felt by us all, but none more so than by his family."


  1. A Good soldier, hard working and keen to learn. For the short time i knew you, i could tell you had all the qualities to evolve into a junior commander.
    You came and told me you were afraid to go on Ops and i said you will do well out there. You did just that.
    Good night Johnny, you will leave a scar on the Dukes history and be missed.

    Have a good sleep. Sgt G J Winchurch ( 3 Yorks)

  2. I was reading the letters sent into the "comments" section of the Daily Mail. Some of those comments are unbelievably cruel, ignorant and/or downright insulting. Mac (Senior) participated in Operation Nimrod, risking his life to deal with terrorists who had already killed, and were threatening more murder. At that time, Mac (Junior) was a small baby. This time Mac (Junior) risked, and lost, his life, attempting to save the life of a young soldier. At that time, his own son was a young child.
    Father and son; men among men, committed to a career of professionalism, committed to risking their lives fighting terrorists. They put themselves through all manner of challenges to make "The Regiment", including all types of beastings. For what ? The take home pay isn't that good. They, and all our service people, but especially "they", the men among men, they do it to risk life and limb every day. The people who wrote those letters should be ashamed: they are able to express their opinions only because of men like the two Macs. Two men who stood with their fellows, fighting the very threat to western democracy and the right to be free. We owe them; we owe every one of these men our grateful thanks; we owe them for our very existence. The Government is sending our very best to fight this evil foe, and it is time that we brought them back to a heroes reception. Mac (Senior); thank you for all that you have done, may you soon be able to find some peace on earth after your loss. Mac (Junior) Rest in Peace in Heaven. You, and others like you, have earned our gratitude.