TRIBUTES have been paid to a soldier based at St George’s Barracks in North Luffenham who was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday.
L/Cpl Liam Tasker, 26, a dog handler with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, was shot while on patrol with his dog Theo near Camp Bastion.
He trained with the 104 Military Working Dog Squadron, part of the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment based at North Luffenham and was deployed to Afghanistan last September. Last month he began working alongside the 1st Battalion Irish Guards.
Theo, a springer spaniel cross, suffered a seizure and died after he was taken back to camp the same day.
L/Cpl Tasker was the second soldier from North Luffenham to die in the current conflict. L/Cpl Kenneth Rowe, of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, attached to 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, died on July 24, 2008.
In their tributes to him, L/Cpl Tasker’s family, friends and colleagues described him as a character who was “larger than life”.
Major Caroline Emmett, Officer Commanding 104 Military Working Dog Squadron, said: “L/Cpl Liam Tasker was a joy to be around. His enthusiasm was infectious and I always enjoyed our frequent talks together. He and his dog Theo were made for each other.
“L/Cpl Tasker was one of the best people I have ever known. Kind, with a good heart, he always put others before himself. His professional excellence and positive
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attitude to life is something that I and others looked up to.
“L/Cpl Tasker was an arms explosive search dog handler and trainer of the highest calibre. He and his dog had more operational finds than any individual team has had in Afghanistan to date and he saved many lives as a result of this.
“He was so proud of his achievements and I was so proud of him.
“He died a hero, doing a job he loved and he will be very sadly missed. My thoughts and heartfelt condolences and those of the squadron go out to his family and friends at this sad time. He will always have a place in our hearts and will never be forgotten.”
L/Cpl Tasker’s mother Jane Duffy, father Ian Tasker, brother Ian and sisters Laura and Nicola, who live in Fife, paid tribute to the man they said “lit up every room he walked into with his cheeky smile”.
In a statement they said: “He was the best son, grandson, brother and friend you could ever wish to meet.
“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.
“Sleep well Liam, you are forever in our hearts.”
His girlfriend Leah Walters said: “LT never met anyone without touching their lives in some way.
“The amount of support both I and his family have received in the last day alone pays testament to this.
“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 soul mate, my best friend.”