A Soldier and His Dog Leading The Way, Killed in Afghanistan

Posted on March 11, 2011


From "The Telegraph"

The Springer Spaniel, Theo,  was only 22 months old and masterfully trained by his owner/trainer, Lance Corporal Liam Tasker of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps stationed in Afghanistan.

The 26-year-old, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, was on a patrol with Theo in the Nahr-e Saraj district in Helmand province when they were engaged by small arms fire.

L/Cpl Tasker, who was attached to the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, was shot and died from his injuries. Theo was taken back to Camp Bastion but later died due to stress from the shooting, an MoD spokesman said.

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Lieutenant Colonel David Thorpe LANCS, Commanding Officer of 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, said: “He was a strong, reliable soldier and an expert dog man.

“He was one of the highly qualified dog trainers in Afghanistan. The work he did in his 5 months in Afghanistan saved countless lives, of that I have no doubt.”

Major Alexander Turner, Officer Commanding 2 Company, 1st Battalion Irish Guards, added: “A natural with animals, he had an affection for his dog that truly was a window to his soul.

“His fortitude and zeal for that perilous task was humbling: it imbued us all with confidence.

At the most hazardous phase of an advance, he would be at the point of the spear, badgering to get even further forward and work his dog.

“He met his fate in just such a situation – leading the way that we might be safe. That selfless generosity will resonate among us long after his passing – and must serve as a beacon to all.” [Telegraph]

Liam and Theo were flown home together.  In a small Wiltshire town, the streets were lined with people with their dogs to send them off.  Only in England where the headline read:

Dog lovers gather for repatriation of soldier and spaniel from Afghanistan

Dog lovers brought their pets in tow as they lined the streets of Wootton Bassett yesterday to pay their respects to an Army dog handler and his Springer spaniel who died in Afghanistan.

Hundreds of mourners lined the main street through the Wiltshire town to honour Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, who was shot while on patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan on March 1.

The crowds were swelled by family pets and a dozen police and Prison Service dogs at the repatriation ceremony for the 26-year-old soldier, whose dog Theo died from a seizure three hours after his master was killed.

L/Cpl Tasker’s family said they believe the dog died from a broken heart.

The body of L/Cpl Tasker, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, and the ashes of Theo had earlier been flown back to RAF Lyneham in the same aircraft.

L/Cpl Tasker was the subject of the repatriation ceremony but Theo’s ashes will be presented in private to his family [Telegraph]

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