Thursday, March 3, 2011

Some Gave All: Lance Corporal Liam Richard Tasker





On 14th February, 2011, I shared an MoD article about LCpl Liam Tasker's partner Theo. Go here for that..


Now comes this news from the MoD:

Lance Corporal Liam Richard Tasker killed in Afghanistan

A Military Operations news article

2 Mar 11

It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Lance Corporal Liam Richard Tasker, from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday 1 March 2011.

Lance Corporal Liam Tasker and Theo

Lance Corporal Liam Tasker and Theo
[Picture: via MOD]


Lance Corporal Tasker deployed to Afghanistan on 8 September 2010 as part of the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment. Having trained as an Arms and Explosives Search dog handler, he was attached to the 1st Battalion Irish Guards on 19 February 2011.

On 1 March 2011, Lance Corporal Tasker was taking part in a patrol with his dog, Theo, when they were engaged by small arms fire, during which Lance Corporal Tasker was struck and died from the injuries he sustained. Sadly, on returning to Camp Bastion, Theo suffered a seizure and [also] died.

Lance Corporal Liam Richard Tasker

Lance Corporal Tasker was born on 11 December 1984 in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland. He joined the Army in 2001 and was originally a vehicle mechanic in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. His passion though was always dogs which led to his transfer to the Royal Army Veterinary Corps in 2007.

A trainer who had a natural empathy with dogs, he was a rising star within the Dog Training Group. In 2010 he was posted to 104 Military Working Dog Support Unit, St George's Barracks, North Luffenham, Rutland, part of the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment.

From the onset of his operational tour in Afghanistan, he provided strong search and clearance capability for units across Helmand province. In a short period of time he had significant success locating improvised explosive devices, weapons and bomb-making equipment. His success undoubtedly saved many lives.

Lance Corporal Tasker was an outgoing, jovial and friendly character. He was extremely popular within his squadron. His easy-going, confident approach belied a consummate professional. He always strived to be the best, and within the squadron he was one of the best. He will be sorely missed by all in the squadron.

He can never be replaced and will always be remembered. He was a fun, friendly, talkative character who always wanted the best from his dog, his troops, and himself.

He leaves behind his mother Jane Duffy, his father Ian Tasker, his brother Ian, his two sisters Laura and Nicola, and his girlfriend Leah.

Lance Corporal Tasker's family said:

"There are three words that best describe Liam, larger than life. He lit up every room he walked into with his cheeky smile. 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."


Lieutenant Colonel David Thorpe, Commanding Officer, 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, said:

"It is a challenge to put into words what Lance Corporal Liam Tasker meant to those he worked with. To his friends he was a mate who could put a smile on your face; he was that man who you wanted around and who you wanted to spend time with.

"To the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment he was a strong, reliable soldier and an expert 'Dog Man'. He genuinely loved the dogs he worked with and was always able to get the best out of them. He was one of the highly qualified dog trainers in Afghanistan and had spent time at our training establishment making sure that the new soldiers coming out of training had the best possible skills and experience imparted into them.

"Epitomising the hardworking, determined and ambitious nature of our very best soldiers, he wanted to go to Afghanistan. He wanted to ply his trade in the harshest of environments, to be outside of his comfort zone, and he wanted to be successful. He was. The work he did in his five months in Afghanistan saved countless lives, of that I have no doubt. He flew the Royal Army Veterinary Corps' flag high; he led from the front and made us proud.

"Lance Corporal Tasker wanted to go far in the Army and he had all of the attributes needed to be a career soldier, with capacity to spare. His ability to command whilst maintaining his sense of humour had already marked him out as one to watch. His loss has hurt every single one of us today. He will be missed. He will not be forgotten.

"My thoughts and condolences and those of the whole regiment go out to his family and friends."

Major Caroline Emmett, Officer Commanding 104 Military Working Dog Support Unit, said:

"Lance Corporal Liam Tasker was a larger than life character who 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.

"Lance Corporal 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 attitude to life is something that I and others looked up to.

"Lance Corporal Tasker was an Arms and Explosives 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.

[...]

Major Alexander Turner, Officer Commanding 2 Company, 1st Battalion Irish Guards, said:

"Lance Corporal Tasker and his faithful search dog Theo, arrived in Number 2 Company to assist us with the hunt for Improvised Explosive Devices: an unseen, arbitrary and lethal threat. The injustice of his passing has devastated us: Lance Corporal Tasker was here to save life, finding explosive devices that kill more farmers than combatants in our area.

"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. He used to joke that Theo was impossible to restrain but I would say the same about Lance Corporal Tasker.

"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. Greater love hath no man..."

Captain Jay Rowlinson, Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC), Second in Command 104 Military Dog Squadron, said:

"We always looked forward to Lance Corporal Tasker returning from tasking. He would come and brief on his task and how he provided significant assurance to the teams he was working with. He was always hugely animated when he was talking about his dog and the finds that they had whilst forward.

"A fun character but professional in every way, I have never seen such dedication in a search handler. Extremely popular, with an innate ability to make all around him feel at ease, it is difficult to place into words how much we will miss him."

Warrant Officer Class 2 Adrian Davies RAVC, Sergeant Major 104 Military Working Dog Squadron, said:

"I first met Lance Corporal Liam Tasker in 2007 just after he had transferred into the RAVC. Even then he was a confident individual as he proved on more than one occasion on the rugby pitch, shame the same could not be said in the bar afterwards.

"Liam was posted to 104 MWD Squadron just as we started pre-deployment training. Despite being new to the Squadron his natural talent and enthusiasm as a dog handler shone through. In barracks or on operations, Liam soon found himself as my 'go to' man; if I needed something doing he was there, unless the Squadron was on Physical Training.

Corporal Roy Brown

"Lance Corporal Liam Tasker was an inspiration to us and all who met him. From the youngest soldier, to the ageing Airman, you could not help but be impressed by his constant drive to get things done. He was a man to be relied upon. He was never afraid to speak his mind, but never lacked respect for those around him.

"He was an exceptional dog trainer, who showed natural talent from the beginning of his RAVC career, of which he was incredibly proud. We should all learn from this man - his ambition, his drive and his sense of pride. A good friend and colleague, he will be greatly missed."

Sergeant Matt Jones RAVC, Training Sergeant 104 Military Working Dog Squadron, said:

"Lance Corporal Liam Tasker came to 104 Military Working Dog Squadron as we started our pre-deployment training. He quickly showed an abundance of enthusiasm for the job in hand, and a love for training and handling dogs.

"A gifted and well motivated soldier, Liam displayed all the qualities of an outstanding RAVC soldier both in barracks and on operations. Liam, a veteran of many searches before had undoubtedly saved lives with his Arms Explosive Search dog, Theo. He died doing what he did best; saving lives, denying the insurgents of their IEDs and weapons and letting everyone know this.

"A talented rugby player and passionate man, Liam will leave us with a massive void that will not ever be filled or replaced. Rest easy bud."

Corporal Roy Brown, RAF Police, said:

"Lance Corporal Liam Tasker was an inspiration to us and all who met him. From the youngest soldier, to the ageing Airman, you could not help but be impressed by his constant drive to get things done. He was a man to be relied upon. He was never afraid to speak his mind, but never lacked respect for those around him.

"He was an exceptional dog trainer, who showed natural talent from the beginning of his RAVC career, of which he was incredibly proud. We should all learn from this man - his ambition, his drive and his sense of pride. A good friend and colleague, he will be greatly missed."

Lance Corporal Natasha Mooney, RAVC, said:

"Liam Tasker was a larger than life character and will be sorely missed. He was an outstanding dog trainer and an even better handler. Theo truly was man's best friend and they rest in peace together."

Private Steve Smith, RAVC, said:

"Many things come to me when I think of Lance Corporal Liam Tasker. He was always there when anyone needed help. One of the easiest blokes to talk to, very professional in all he did, although he took everything he did very seriously. He was one of the boys, a true friend to me in the short time I knew him.

"You will never be forgotten my friend BLT. Rest in peace brother."

Private Monique Reynolds, RAVC, said:

"Lance Corporal Liam Tasker was a big part of our unit. He was an amazing dog man and he inspired a lot of other dog handlers. Theo and LCpl Tasker did a brave job together in Afghanistan and he saved a lot of lives. I'll miss his laugh and banter, especially when it was about himself.

"Liam, you will be sorely missed. Rest in Peace."

Private Andrew Duffy, RAVC, said:

"Lance Corporal Liam Tasker was always fun to be around. You were always keen to work the dogs and you were going to be chief dog trainer. You taught me a lot mate, I'm going to miss you Liam. I can't believe you are gone."

[...]

Private Rosie Jones, RAVC, said:

"Liam, it was a privilege to have known you. I hope you are looking down at us, when we are working our dogs. You helped me and Private Kirton so much with our dogs. You were going to be the Chief Trainer, we joked about. But I believed that you would have made a great one. All our love to you."...


Go here for more from those who know LCpl Tasker best.


UK Forces Afghanistan also had a piece up two weeks ago about Theo and LCpl Tasker:



[...]

Theo, a Springer Spaniel cross has been earning his keep in Helmand, Afghanistan as an Arms Explosive Search dog and now holds the record as the dog who has the most number of finds of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) and weapons.

Lance Corporal Liam Tasker and Theo

The 22-month old ‘super hero’ spaniel and his handler, Lance Corporal (L/Cpl) Liam Tasker, are part of the Theatre Military Working Dogs Support Unit (TMWDSU) based at Camp Bastion. Theo is on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan. A tour is normally 6 months, with the dogs then returning to their home at 104 Military Working Dog Squadron at MOD North Luffenham, Rutland, but Theo’s tour has been extended by one month due to his amazing success.

Before coming to Afghanistan Theo had to undergo a rigorous period of training to ensure he would meet the highest standards expected of the dogs in the TMWDSU. The first stage is 16 weeks of basic training and assessment before being given to a handler. Theo and Liam then spent 15 weeks on a handler’s course, where man and dog learn to work as a team....


(More here)


Theo was an absolute hero in his own right. LCpl Tasker had this to say of his partnership with Theo:

"I love my job and working together with Theo. He has great character and never tires. He can't wait to get out and do his job."

From a Canadian newspaper, The Daily Gleaner, comes this about this special pair of heroes:

A soldier's best friend

Published Wednesday February 23rd, 2011

Click to Enlarge
Crown Copyright
An Army dog handler is pictured with his military working dog Theo, a springer spaniel, during training in Camp Bastion on Feb. 10. Theo has 14 confirmed Improvised Explosive Device (IED) finds since he's been in Afghanistan.

In the British army, he is known as Theo, the super hero dog.

It's an honour the four-legged wonder has more than earned. In fact, you could say, he has gained his fame the hard way.

Theo smells out improvised explosive devices or IEDs better than any other quadruped in Afghanistan, perhaps even the world.

According to a news release issued earlier this month by the Ministry of Defence in Great Britain, Theo, a springer spaniel cross, holds the record for finding the most IEDs and weapons in Afghanistan.

Theo is so good at what he does that he has had his tour in the war-torn country extended.

The 22-month-old pooch is part of what is known in the British Army as the Theatre Military Working Dog Support Unit (TMWDSU), based at Camp Bastion.

Medium-length, with a flat or wavy coat, and either liver and white, tan and white, or black and white, the dogs are traditionally used to flush game and are known for their ability to retrieve on land and water...


Much more about Theo, and the programme he worked in as LCpl Tasker's faithful partner, go here.

It has been speculated by other soldiers on the patrol that the insurgent was trying to kill Theo to prevent a stash of IEDs being found. Theo's fatal seizure may have been the result of the trauma of the heavy gunfire the patrol came under on that fateful day.

Liam Tasker and Theo are being described as "an inseparable pair," and so they are today, and will always remain.

On a Leicester site, I found this in the comments of an article about this pair:

A fine example to all dog owners of what can be achieved in a true dog/human relationship. Both are true heroes, we should all be very proud of all our service men, women and dogs. They do an amazing job. [...] What a man, what a dog, what an example to us all...(Article and more comments here.)


What a man, what a dog, what an example to us all, indeed!

Rest in peace, Liam and Theo. Together forever, always larger than life.


Always remembered and honoured.


[Update: British soldier killed in Afghanistan flown home alongside remains of his faithful dog]

6 comments:

MsMarti said...

With tears rolling, I thank you for this piece.

You just know they are together still watching over their brothers in arms!

Anonymous said...

Me also tears for such brave and beautiful souls God hold them, love them they can
Play ball now without fear

Anonymous said...

God bless them, hold them, protect them dear beautiful souls
Play ball now without fear.

Leslie said...

Am crying as writing this, my gosh what a bond they had! R.I.P. to one very brave man and dog!

Anonymous said...

Maggie's Mom writes ... I find it almost impossible to see the screen for all the tears. This shows the Power of a Broken Heart. As I saw this story on the news tonight and then again reading it here on the web my heart just breaks. I too share this kind of love with my Maggie and fear the day when the bond she and I share will be tethered ... never broken. I want to send my condolences to Lance Corporal Liam Tasker's family and girlfriend as I know their hearts are breaking. God please place your loving arms around them and guide them through these difficult times. They say animals do not descend to Heaven after death but I myself REFUSE to believe that God would not allow the love that we share with our animals to continue after this Earthyly life. There's got to be beautiful lush green fields that are perfect for playing fetch. (Tennessee)

Brat said...

@MaggiesMom.... I am SURE that Liam and Theo are both together, forever, beyond The Rainbow Bridge.

Such bonds of love never die...

(Bratdog's mum.) <3