Monday 28 May 2018

UK bomb-disposal expert dies after Afghan explosion

John Fahey in London

A YOUNG British bomb-disposal expert who died after defusing a bomb in Afghanistan was last night named as Captain Lisa Jade Head.

Capt Head had disabled one homemade bomb when another one exploded in an alleyway in Nahr-e-Saraj, Helmand Province on Monday.

The 29-year-old, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, was flown back to the UK, where she died yesterday.

In June 2008, Sarah Bryant became the first female British soldier to be killed in Afghanistan. The 26-year-old, a member of the Intelligence Corps, died along with three SAS men in a roadside bomb attack in Lashkar Gah.

Yesterday, Capt Head's family issued a statement saying: "We wish to say that we are extremely proud of Lisa.

"Lisa always said that she had the best job in the world and she loved every second of it.

"Lisa had two families -- us and the army.

The officer of 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, the Royal Logistic Corps, had only deployed to the Afghan badlands on March 27.

She had cleared one improvised explosive device (IED) in the alleyway used by nationals and troops alike when the second bomb she was defusing detonated.

Capt Head studied human biology at Huddersfield University before attending the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, from 2004 to 2005.

Commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Harrison, said her loss was a "tragedy at every level".

"Having just arrived in our area, she immediately took on the task of clearing devices from one of the most dangerous areas in Helmand Province," he said.

"Lisa had been dealing with a device just before she was fatally wounded and her fortitude in returning to task demonstrates the cool, considered valour that defined her nature.

"Lisa's sacrifice has further deepened 2 Para Battlegroup's admiration for the breathtaking courage these very special bomb disposal officers routinely display.

"Lisa died to make this world a safer place for all. Our thoughts and prayers lie with all her family and friends at this impossibly difficult time."

Major Matt Middleditch, commanding officer of the regiment's 321 EOD Squadron, said: "Lisa was quite simply a joy to have known and a privilege to have commanded.

"Professionally she was the very best; a natural leader who commanded respect, she led from the front both at work and at play.

"Her determination and drive to succeed in everything that she did made her stand out from the crowd and it was no surprise to me that she had been selected to assume the appointment of regimental operations officer following her tour in Afghanistan.

Dedicated

"Lisa was the life and soul of any social event and was really the centre of gravity for life in the squadron and amongst her much wider circle of friends.

"Anyone who met her will remember her keen wit and sense of fun which would light up any occasion and would know that the world was a better place when she was with you."

Major Al Brown, commanding officer of the Joint Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group, said: "Forged in the brief but fiercely burning star of Lisa's time here with us, the strength of that team spirit endures and the Counter-IED Task Force will be stronger in this tour because of her work.

"The British army and the people of Afghanistan have lost an extremely skilled and courageous soldier today, someone dedicated to protecting the lives of others and the world is a poorer place for it.

"Within the EOD community, we are left hollow and saddened by the loss of our friend and comrade."

Lance Corporal Michelle Arnott, of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squadron, paid tribute to the officer as "the best boss I have worked under" and someone to turn to.

"She had a fantastic sense of humour and drive," she said.

"You could always go straight to her for anything, whether it be work related or not," her army colleague added.

Irish Independent

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