WEARSIDE soldier Richard Reginald Walker has been named as the British soldier killed in Afghanistan on Monday.
The 23-year-old dad, of Washington, was shot in an apparent ‘insider attack’ by a member of the Afghan National Army (ANA) at Patrol Base Hazrat in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province.
The sapper, who had a young daughter, Lilly-Faith, was a former Washington School pupil and also briefly attended Pennywell School in Sunderland.
In a statement, his family said: “Richard held two things close to his heart – his daughter and his colleagues in the Army.
“A proud, patriotic man, he died doing a job he loved, supporting his friends.”
Sapper Walker, from 28 Engineer Regiment, was attached to 21 Engineer Regiment as part of the Task Force Helmand Engineer Group.
He was working on a construction task with other military engineers from his Troop, as part of the preparations to hand the camp over to Afghan security forces, when the Afghan soldier turned his weapon on ANA and ISAF soldiers at the base.
The incident resulted in a number of casualties, all of whom were extracted to the Bastion Role 3 medical facility where Sapper Walker was pronounced dead.
Lieutenant Colonel Chas Story RE, commanding officer of 28 Engineer Regiment, said: “Sapper Walker was the epitome of a true Sapper, one who would roll up his sleeves and get on with the task in hand no matter what, but importantly he would do it with great humour.
“He made sure that he made the most of every opportunity, both in the Army and at home; it is without doubt that he had a lot to offer and a bright future.
“He was hugely respected as a fit, professional soldier with a massive character. This was his first tour of Afghanistan but anyone would have thought he was a seasoned expert, such was his ability and professionalism.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, including his young daughter Lilly-Faith, at this very difficult time.”
Lieutenant Colonel Jack Nicholson RE, commanding officer of 21 Engineer Regiment, added: “In the short time that Sapper Walker served with my Regiment he struck me as being a driven young man, full of ambition and oozing with professional pride and confidence.
“An outstanding soldier in the best traditions of The Corps of Royal Engineers, he made an immediate impact on all those who had the privilege of serving alongside him.
“Although on his first operational tour, he acted like a veteran of many years’ experience and clearly relished the challenges he faced with his Troop in Afghanistan.
“Hard working and utterly loyal to his mates, he was a real character who had established himself as a man of action within his adopted Squadron.”
Promising career of ‘valued’ and ‘likeable’ soldier
Sapper Walker worked as a technician for Vauxhall before joining the Army in July 2008. Upon joining the Royal Engineers, he completed his basic training at the Army Training Regiment Bassingbourn before moving on to Gibraltar Barracks, Minley, where he completed his Phase Two Combat Engineer Training.
He then moved to the Defence School of Transport Leconfield where he completed his trade training to become a driver.
He joined his first unit, 28 Engineer Regiment in Hameln, Germany, in September 2009, deploying with them to Canada and then Kenya on major exercises.
His Troop, from 42 Field Squadron, was attached to 73 Armoured Engineer Squadron (73 AES) based in Ripon, North Yorkshire for Operation Herrick 17. His Troop joined 73 AES in August 2012 and deployed with the Squadron to Afghanistan at the start of September as part of the Task Force Helmand Engineer Group.
The Ministry of Defence said Sapper Walker was a valued member of 73 AES and deployed on every single Troop task.
A spokesman said: “He was a popular and well respected member of his Troop and upon joining the Squadron he quickly gained friends across the spectrum of ranks; a testament to his likeable character and willingness to join in
“An avid football fan, Sapper Walker represented his Regiment at football and spent endless hours in the gym. He even managed to spend some time trying to learn to play the guitar albeit one chord at a time.
“Above all he was a devoted father and would talk for hours on end about his love for his daughter Lilly-Faith who sadly he only knew for 18 months before his deployment.
He added: “Sapper Walker was destined to go on to greater things – his willingness to learn, unswerving sense of duty and personal motivation to pursue a successful career would have seen him progress far.
“Above all he will be remembered for his charisma and team spirit; a true all rounder, his loss will be felt for years to come.”