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Swindon soldier killed in Afghanistan
A SOLDIER from Swindon has been killed in action in Afghanistan.
The solider, shot dead in Afghanistan on Friday, has been named as Corporal Michael Thacker.
The serviceman, from 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh, was manning an observation post in the Nahr-e Saraj District of Helmand Province when his patrol came under attack from small arms fire, the ministry of Defence said.
He received immediate medical attention and was evacuated from the scene by helicopter but died of his injuries.
The 27-year-old father-of-one - who was born in Swindon and had served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan - was described as a "soldier's soldier" and "natural leader" by his comrades.
Cpl Thacker's wife Catherine said: "Michael was the love of my life. He was an amazing husband and father who will always be remembered as a funny, loving and kind man. Everyone who met Mike instantly liked him and through time came to love him."
Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Webb MC, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, said: "Corporal Michael Thacker had all the attributes of a superb Royal Welsh junior non-commissioned officer and he was exactly the man that you would want at your side when life got difficult.
"He was a soldier's soldier - a larger than life character, highly competent, fiercely loyal and hugely proud of his family.
"He had a great sense of humour, banter was his speciality and any time spent with him was time well spent."
He added: "No-one ever left him without a smile on their face - he simply loved life. He was mischievous, fun, incredibly amiable and with a grin that would brighten the darkest of days."
Lt Col Webb said the solider, who has a two-year-old daughter named Millie, had a bright future ahead of him after recently being promoted.
He added: "He was a professional soldier and a natural leader. People were drawn to him and he recognised the role that he had to play. He knew exactly what was needed to bring out the best in those around him.
"He never shirked a challenge or took the easy option and this selfless commitment spread through those around him."
Cpl Thacker's younger brother, Lance Corporal Matthew Thacker, also served in the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh.
Describing his older sibling as "the best I could wish for", he said: "We were more than brothers, we were best friends and words cannot express how much he will be missed.
"Michael is one of those people who would help others before helping himself. He could light up a dark room, always making people laugh because of his great personality.
"Devastated cannot come close to how we as a family are feeling. He died doing the job that we Thacker brothers love. He is a true hero. Rest in Peace. You will always be in my thoughts."
The MoD said Cpl Thacker, who lived with his wife and daughter in Coventry, was part of his battalion's fire support group. The unit was manning an observation post in the war zone when they came under attack.
Other comrades also paid tribute to the fallen soldier, know affectionately as "Thacks".
Major Jon Matthews, the officer commanding the battalion's fire support company, described him as "a great man who will be sorely missed by all those who had the pleasure of working with him".
"I am immensely proud to have known him and I am grateful for the zeal and determination with which he approached soldiering in Fire Support Company," he added.
"He was a professional and proud Royal Welshman who was fiercely loyal to his men.
"He was the heart and soul of his team and was always on hand to help when the going got tough. His positive attitude was infectious and his desire to get stuck-in and lead his men was second to none."
Major Matthews added: "Thacks was not only a soldier; he was a family man too. He was a devoted husband and a doting father."
Major Charlie Carver, Officer Commanding A Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, said Cpl Thacker would be remembered "as a highly professional soldier who took enormous pride in his ability as a Fire Support Group Section Commander".
He added: "He was always to be found at the centre of the action, with his defined sense of humour and his unique outlook on life.
"Throughout the tour Corporal Thacker demonstrated courage and resolve working in a very difficult location, leading his men in trying circumstances. Whenever I visited the FSG he was always sat at the centre of the group, ensuring that morale was high, with an infectious smile that immediately lightened any mood."
Warrant Officer Class 2 Keith Mills, Company Sergeant Major, A Company, 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, said: "As a soldier his abilities were second to none. He was highly respected within his Company Group as a soldier and could be trusted to deliver time and time again.
"The Royal Welsh has tragically lost a brave, outstanding 'Royal Welshman' and I will miss his infectious smile.
Colour Sergeant Richard Thomas, Fire Support Group 1, 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, said that Cpl Thacker's passion for his job was only superseded by his passion for his family.
Cpl Thacker's brother Matthew was not in Afghanistan at the time of his death, an MoD spokeswoman said.
His two other siblings, Mark and Ashley, are not in the armed forces, the spokeswoman added.
Cpl Thacker had completed a tour of Iraq and two previous tours of Afghanistan.
He becomes the 416th member of UK forces to have died since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said he was "deeply saddened" to hear of the death.
He added: "It is clear he was a larger than life character. Tributes describe him as a very professional soldier and outstanding leader, who was deeply committed to his role and to his colleagues.
"He was a credit to his regiment, the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, and I extend my deepest sympathies to his family, loved ones and colleagues at this very difficult time."