Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Memory of Welsh Guards' officer lives on in Helmand school
A lasting tribute has been paid to an officer killed in Afghanistan after a new village school which he had vowed to build opened its doors to youngsters in Helmand province.
Major Sean Birchall initiated the renovation project in Basaran earlier this year but died in an improvised explosive device blast before it could be completed.
He led 9 Company, Welsh Guards, into the village near Lashkar Gah in April with the aim of establishing a firm presence and driving insurgents away.
Following the operation's success the area was transformed into a thriving community and Major Birchall and his team soon discovered that the biggest concern for locals was the lack of education for their children.
Villagers explained how the headmaster had been executed by the Taliban and the school had fallen into a state of disrepair.
Major Birchall promised to turn the situation around, but the Guards were rocked by the tragic death of their Company Commander in mid-June.
His troops vowed to complete the officer's work and soldiers from 4th Battalion The Mercian Regiment provided security so local workers could renovate the school, allowing more than 370 pupils to register to attend the new-look facility.
Major Alex Corbet-Burcher, the new Officer Commanding, said:
"The locals were initially cautious about our presence in Basaran, but the atmosphere now is great. I think Sean would be proud of the lads' achievements. It makes us all feel better that some good has come from his sacrifice."