A DAD who suffered the loss of his oldest son in Afghanistan today spoke of his pride as his youngest prepares to go to war.
It was an emotional day for parents Tom and Carla Cuthbertson as they watched son Connan officially became a soldier during his pass out parade – just days before his 18th birthday.
Connan’s military path in life has been inspired by the legacy of his brother Nathan, killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan in 2008. He was 19.
Connan initially signed up for the Army when he was just 16.
After securing a spot at Harrogate Foundation College in September 2010, Connan took the oath of allegiance to Queen and Country before starting his military career.
After months of rigorous training, he is now a member of 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment based in Colchester, Essex.
But the passing out is bittersweet for Connan’s parents after learning he could be sent to Afghanistan later this year.
Former-Para Tom, 42, of Tunstall, said: “We’re so proud of him passing out and he’s done really well at 17 to pass into B Company because that’s hard to do at any age let alone at such a young age.
“Our Nathan did the same and Connan’s followed exactly in his footsteps.
“He’s done the same training, he’s in the same regiment and company and he’s based in the same place Nathan was.
“We are obviously nervous because we believe he’s being sent to Afghanistan this year and that’s frightening, but that’s what he wants to do.”
When Connan originally decided he wanted to join up, his mum had refused to sign the parental consent form that allows under-18s into the Armed Forces.
But Tom, who was also in the Paras, relented when Connan insisted he would sign up himself when old enough.
“Connan wanted to join the Army as well as our Nathan and he wanted to get in the Paras like Nathan so he is really pleased,” Tom said.
“He’s over the moon.”
Nathan also fulfilled his childhood dream by following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a gunner for the Parachute Regiment.
But the 19-year-old private was killed, along with his colleagues Private Daniel Gamble and Private Charles David Murray, when a lone insurgent detonated an explosive device as they returned to base in Helmand Province in 2008.
The Parachute Regiment requires its soldiers to operate with minimal or no support behind enemy lines and against numerically superior forces.