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Tribute paid to Afghanistan war victim Sgt Gareth Thursby
10:07am Thursday 20th September 2012 in Keighley
Shocked villagers have paid tribute to a soldier killed in a so-called “green on blue” attack in Afghanistan.
Sergeant Gareth Thursby and a colleague were shot dead when they went to the aid of a rogue Afghan policeman, who had pretended to be injured.
This week residents in Cross Hills, where Sgt Thursby went to school and which was his wife Louise’s home village, voiced their disbelief.
South Craven county councillor Philip Barrett, who lives in the area, said: “It's tragic that this brave young soldier has paid the ultimate price while serving his country. My heart goes out to his family and friends at this very difficult time.”
South Craven School – which Sgt Thursby attended – said it hoped to organise its own tribute and would contact his family, to whom it sent sincere condolences.
Head teacher Dr Andrew Cummings said Sgt Thursby was remembered by staff as a very talented sportsman.
“He was always in the thick of it and enjoyed the competitive side of life,” he said.
“He was a fearless sportsman, but also had a strong instinct to help others.
“The army was always his passion. During his school career he was also a member of the Skipton Army Cadet Force and joined the army upon leaving school.”
Sgt Thursby – a father to Joshua and Ruby – was killed in the south of Nahr-e Saraj district in Helmand province on Saturday, just six days before his 30th birthday.
He died alongside Private Thomas Wroe, 18, from Holmfirth, a fellow member of the 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington’s).
Mrs Thursby said: “Gareth was the love of my life. He was an amazing husband and father, happy, full of life and kind-hearted, with a passion for his work and family. He was brave, hard- working, a loving husband who was a devoted father to his children – our hero.”
And tribute has been paid to Sgt Thursby, who had previously completed tours of duty in Kosovo and Iraq, by his commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Zachary Stenning.
He said: “He was admired and deeply respected by his soldiers and peers for his soldiering skills, physical strength and forthright honesty. Utterly professional, his standards were legendary.
"I heard just a few weeks ago that he had told his platoon to call him Dad during the tour. That is how he saw himself; a father figure for 30 men and women involved in gruelling operations in Helmand."
South Craven MP Julian Smith said his thoughts were with the sergeant’s family.
“The work that Sergeant Thursby was undertaking in Afghanistan was vital in ensuring our national security and his sacrifice will never be forgotten,” he added.