Thursday, 31 October 2013


 It commemorates Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, sadly killed in Southern Afghanistan on 1/3/2011. What makes this story evem more heart wrenching is that Liam was a dog handler, and his dog: Theo tragically died of a heart attack shortly after being rescued and brought back to Camp Bastion. We have reproduced a small piece on Liam and Theo taken from The Daily mail, shortly after Liams death. An army dog handler killed in Afghanistan just hours before his springer spaniel died 'from a broken heart' has been described as a hero by his brother at his funeral. Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, 26, of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, was shot dead while on patrol with his dog, Theo, on March 1. The sniffer dog, described as a 'true friend' to the solder, died hours later and his ashes were flown back in the same aircraft as his master. The army dog handler was given a military funeral. It is believed that his family will scatter the ashes of his dog, Theo, at a later date The army dog handler was given a military funeral. It is believed that his family will scatter the ashes of his dog, Theo, at a later date Official reports said that Theo died of a seizure but his family believed that he died of a broken heart. Several hundred people packed into Tayport Parish Church in Fife today and lined the streets to pay their respects to the arms explosive search handler from Kirkaldy. His family is now deciding what to do with the ashes of the bomb detector dog. During the funeral, LCpl Tasker's tearful brother recalled fond memories of the soldier, quaking as he told mourners: 'Liam was the best brother, son, grandson and indeed friend you could ask for.' Among those present at today's service were the dog handler's mother Jane Duffy, who travelled from Belgium for the funeral, and his girlfriend Leah Walters. His sister Laura Tasker was also at the service, as were the soldier's father Ian Tasker and his stepfather Jimmy Duffy. LCpl Tasker had a natural ability with dogs. He formed a special bond with Theo, a springer spaniel that his family believes died from a broken heart. Right, a mourner with his dog In the presence of the coffin draped in the Union Flag and topped with the soldier's cap, belt and medals, the congregation heard a moving tribute from the dog handler's brother Ian. He spoke of the soldier's love for his parents and how he was someone who put the needs of others before his own. Mr Tasker told how he and his brother had grown closer in recent years and would enjoy time talking together and playing music. He told mourners: 'Liam said at the end of one of his letters, "Every day is a gift, not a given right". I'd like to use this day to celebrate his life rather than mourn his death.' Leading the service, Rev Brian Oxburgh said those who knew the soldier described him as "professional, courageous, measured, committed, zealous, thorough, enthusiastic and selfless". He said: 'Liam's life, though brief, was full. He achieved for others more than many do in a lifetime two, three or four times as long.' The soldier's uncle, Major Richard McCord, also spoke at the service to read a passage from the Gospel of St John. Another uncle, William McCord, read a poem written for Liam by one of his colleagues. The congregation also listened to the soldier's favourite song, The Funeral by Band Of Horses before a private burial at Tayport Cemetery. Lieutenant Colonel David Thorrpe, commanding officer of the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment said he was a natural dog man who displayed 'uncanny empathy' with the animals during his training. 'It was obvious to all who encountered him that he would be a rising star in the veterinary corps,' he said. The family of LCpl Tasker look on as his coffin is carried by pallbearers into Tayport Church. The service was packed with mourners and hundreds more lined the streets The family of LCpl Tasker look on as his coffin is carried by pallbearers into Tayport Church. The service was packed with mourners and hundreds more lined the streets 'It was as a AES handler that LCpl Tasker's talent really came to the fore. It is clear that the pride he took in his job came from the love he had for the dogs he worked with. 'He was able to utilise all his skills and lead from the front as an example to us all. He saved the lives of his friends and colleagues on numerous occasions. 'He was a hero. He knew that he could be and he knew that he was, but he would never tell you himself. LCpl joined the army in 2001 as a vehicle mechanic in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. His passion for dogs led to a transfer to the Royal Army Veterinary Corps six years later. Lt Col Thorpe also spoke of the soldier's time in Afghanistan and the special bond he formed with Theo. He said: 'LCpl Tasker was in control of an asset that, when trained and honed and used properly, could quite literally save lives. 'For every enemy bomb and bullet and rifle that is found and then made safe, there is one less bomb, bullet and rifle in enemy hands which can be used to harm not only our own soldiers, but also the ordinary and innocent Afghan people as well. 'L/Cpl Tasker could train and hone and use the military working dog asset very effectively indeed because for him, Theo, his dog, wasn't just a military asset. Theo was a true friend. 'L/Cpl Tasker had a natural affinity with Theo and his ability to form, nurture and create such a strong partnership turned what for many would remain simply an aspiration into a reality.' LCpl Tasker died from injuries sustained in a fight with the Taliban while on patrol with his dog in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province. He became the 358th member of the British armed forces to die since operations in Afghanistan began in 2001. The springer spaniel died after returning to Camp Bastion, the main British military base. Weeks before their deaths, Theo was praised by the Ministry of Defence for making 14 finds of hidden bombs and weapons caches in just five months - a record for a dog and handler. The 22-month-old spaniel, on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan, had uncovered so many roadside bombs that his time in the country was extended by a month. Read more: HERE   R.I.P.