Friday, March 4, 2011

United in life and death: Bomb-sniffing UK Army dog and his master will be repatriated together at Wootton Bassett

My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am. ~Author Unknown

I feel British Lance Corporal Liam Tasker didn't have to worry about that as his beloved companion Theo thought the world of him....They were a team and I salute them both for their bravery, courage and commitment to their shared mission....God Bless them both.

United in life and death: Bomb-sniffing Army dog and his master will be repatriated together at Wootton Bassett
By Daily Mail Reporter
4th March 2011

Bravely they faced the enemy side-by-side and tragically they both died at war.

Now man and dog have one final journey to make - and they will make it as a team.

Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, who was killed in a firefight with the Taliban, and his devoted Army search dog Theo, who died soon after, are to be repatriated together next week.

Tragic loss: Liam Tasker was on patrol with his dog Theo at the time of the attack in Nahr-e-Saraj, Afghanistan. Theo died shortly after his master, earlier this week
The pair, hailed for their tireless work saving countless British soldiers in Afghanistan, are expected to be flown back to Britain on Thursday, the Ministry of Defence said.

As has become tradition, they will be driven through the Wiltshire town of Wootton Bassett, where hundreds come to pay their respects as flag-draped coffins are brought from RAF Lyneham nearby.

The cortege will then continue to Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital.
L/Cpl Tasker, 26, this week became the 358th British serviceman to die in the ten-year conflict. Theo, a springer spaniel cross, suffered a seizure very soon after.
He was only 22-months-old.

Only last month, L/Cpl Tasker described his joy at the close bond he had developed with the dog.

‘I love my job and working together with Theo. He has a great character and never tires,’ he said in an interview on the Ministry of Defence website.

‘He can’t wait to get out and do his job and will stop at nothing.’

Theo and L/Cpl Tasker, an Arms and Explosives Search dog handler of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, were part of the Theatre Military Working Dogs Support Unit based at Camp Bastion.

The pair had uncovered 14 home-made bombs and hoards of weapons in just five months – a record for a dog and his handler in the conflict.

On Tuesday they took part in a mission in the Nahr-e Saraj district in Helmand, a hotbed of the insurgency.

Theo’s task was to be the ‘front man’, sniffing out any hidden IEDs, weapons and bomb-making equipment.

But a firefight broke out with the Taliban and L/Cpl Tasker was shot dead.
After his body was flown back to Camp Bastion, his beloved Theo is thought to have died of a broken heart.

The soldier, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, leaves behind mother Jane Duffy, father Ian Tasker, brother Ian, sisters Laura and Nicola and girlfriend Leah Walters.
Dog handler: Lance Corporal Tasker was a member of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps.

He and Theo will be repatriated to Britain together, next week

In a statement, his family said: ‘There are three words that best describe Liam: larger than life. He lit up every room he walked into with his cheeky smile.
‘He died a hero doing a job he was immensely passionate about. We are so proud of him and everything he’s achieved. Words can’t describe how sorely he will be missed.’
Miss Walters added: ‘LT never met anyone without touching their lives in some way. I am the proudest girlfriend there could ever be and there will be an LT-sized hole in my life forever. Sleep well, my darling, my soulmate, my best friend.’

Lieutenant Colonel David Thorpe, commanding officer 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, also paid tribute to L/Cpl Tasker, saying: ‘He genuinely loved the dogs he worked with and was always able to get the best out of them.

‘Epitomising the hard-working, determined and ambitious nature of our very best soldiers, he wanted to go to Afghanistan. He wanted to ply his trade in the harshest of environments, to be outside of his comfort zone and he wanted to be successful. He was.

‘The work he did in his five months in Afghanistan saved countless lives, of that I have no doubt.’

L/Cpl Tasker joined the Army in 2001 as a vehicle mechanic in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. But his passion for animals led to a transfer to the Royal Army Veterinary Corps in 2007.

He only learned about the dog unit when a friend showed him videos of them in action. He spent 15 weeks on a handlers’ course with Theo, where they learned to work as a team and developed their bond.

Once in Afghanistan, Theo was so successful at detecting explosives that his tour of duty was due to be extended by a month.
Major Caroline Emmett, Officer Commanding 104 Military Working Dog Squadron, said: ‘L/Cpl Tasker was one of the best people I have ever known. Kind, with a good heart, he always put others before himself. He and his dog Theo were made for each other.’

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said he was ‘deeply saddened’ by the news.
‘It is clear that L/Cpl Tasker was a dedicated and highly capable soldier whose skills in handling dogs were second to none,’ he said.

‘He and his dog Theo had saved many lives and we will be eternally grateful for this

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