Families pay tribute to Wiltshire soldiers killed by rogue Afghan policeman
The families of two Wiltshire soldiers killed by a rogue Afghan policeman have today paid tribute to their loves ones.
Married father-of-two Sergeant Gareth Thursby, 29, and Private Thomas Wroe, 18, were shot dead in the south of Nahr-e Saraj district, Helmand province, on Saturday by a man dressed as a local Afghan policeman.
The soldiers were serving with the Warminster-based 3rd Yorkshire Regiment and are the latest victims of a so-called “green-on-blue” incident where insurgents infiltrate the local police or army ranks and then turn on Nato troops.
Reports said the men were killed at a checkpoint when a man dressed as a local Afghan policeman pretended to be injured so they would help him.
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Sgt Thursby from Skipton, North Yorkshire, had two children, Joshua and Ruby.
His wife Louise 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."
Pte Wroe from Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, was sent to Afghanistan at the beginning of July, shortly after his 18th birthday.
A statement from his parents, Michael and Claire, and sister Demi, said: “Our son Thomas was a brave young soldier, who is loved by his family, girlfriend and friends.
“We can’t believe you have been taken so soon from us. You will always be in our hearts for ever and ever.
“You would light up the room with your smile and bubbly personality. Our world will be a duller place without you. We are so proud of you son, of all you achieved, and we are grateful for every special thing you gave us. We will always love you Tom.”
His company commander, Major Finlay Bibby, said: “His confidence, sense of humour and ever present smile made him hugely popular and fun to be with.
“He was an extremely talented soldier who was fulfilling his dream by serving with the battalion on operations, the same battalion that his father served with.
“I have no doubt that Private Wroe would have achieved great things in the Army.”
Sgt Thursby's commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Zachary Stenning, 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.”
The deaths are another blow to the 3rd Yorkshires, and were met with shock and sadness in Warminster. Just last week, the first company returned home to a muted heroes’ welcome at Battlesbury Barracks, with more homecomings due in the next few weeks as the summer deployment gradually ends.
Corunna Company were the first to leave Warminster for Helmand in February as part of an advance party, but lost six of their men in a massive roadside bomb in early April, even before the bulk of the rest of the “Yorkies” had reached the war-zone.
Their seven-month stint in Afghanistan came to an end last week, but there were tears of joy and sadness when they returned back to Battlebury as they remembered the relatives who would not welcome their men and women home.