It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Ranger Aaron McCormick, from 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, serving as part of Combined Force Nad 'Ali (South), was killed in Helmand, southern Afghanistan, on Sunday 14 November 2010.
Ranger Aaron McCormick [Picture: via MOD]
Ranger McCormick had been helping to clear an area of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during a security patrol in Nad 'Ali when he was killed in an explosion.
Ranger Aaron McCormick
Rgr McCormick, aged 22, came from Coleraine in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. On completion of his recruit training, he joined 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment (1 R IRISH) at Tern Hill, Shropshire, in January 2008.
Rgr McCormick was posted to A Company, where he served with distinction for two-and-a-half years. His professionalism, selflessness and enthusiasm were well known across the Company and the Battalion. Rgr McCormick had served once before in Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 8, and was quickly identified as a quality soldier. Voluntarily, he took on the responsibility as the lead Vallon (mine detection) man. He would be the first man on any patrol, showing the strength of character and courage that he would come to be known for.
Faugh-A-Ballagh! ('Clear the way!'), is the Regiment's motto, and Rgr McCormick was a man who truly cleared the way.
Despite a relatively short time in the Army he was able to offer guidance and advice to the newest members of his unit, often over a brew and having a chat about 'Star Wars'; he was a huge fan.
Rgr McCormick was very well educated and had aspirations to complete a degree in education in the future, a career to which he would have been well suited.
Always ready with a smile, Rgr McCormick was always at the centre of the 'craic' and he will be sorely missed by all members of The Royal Irish Regiment. He leaves behind his mother, Margaret, his father, Lesley, his sisters, Callie-Ann and Tammy, his brother, Michael, and his girlfriend, Becky. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.
Lieutenant Colonel Colin Weir MBE, Commanding Officer, 1 R IRISH, said:
"Ranger Aaron McCormick was the epitome of the Irish Infantry soldier: tough; selfless; good-humoured and full of compassion. Today, there is a gap in our ranks which no ordinary man could fill. He was the best of his country and we mourn his loss. Today, we have a heavy heart. Tomorrow, in his honour and because it is right, his brother Rangers will steel themselves once again, will step out on patrol, and will face down the enemy. This place is already better for Aaron having been here; we will now build on his good work with renewed determination to win. (More here at MoD)
Ranger McCormick gave his all on Remembrance Day, as people across Britain paid tribute to all who have served so honourably in the British forces:
Reverend Mike Roemmele said he had visited his family, who were only just back from a holiday.
"They are obviously completely devastated by the news," he said.
"He has sadly only had a couple of months there and he is the first of the regiment who has died on active service since he and his friends were sent out."
Mr Roemmele said Aaron was "a lad who was full of life, had a great deal of fun and had a number of interests but his primary interest was his service and being with his friends in the Army". (more at the Beeb here)
From the Belfast Telegraph:
Ranger McCormick was a Star Wars fan, his fellow soldiers said.
His friend Ranger Daniel Jackson, who served alongside him in A Company, 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, explained: "Aaron went by many names, but to his friends he was "Jedi". (more here)
Ranger McCormick attended Coleraine Academical Institution, and a special assembly was held to honour him:
Staff and pupils remembered a student who always dreamed of being a soldier.
Special assembly School principal Dr David Carruthers said: "He's remembered as polite, he always got on very well with teachers and pupils.
"It was clear through his time at school that what he always wanted to do was join the forces and shortly after leaving school he joined up and he was very proud to be a member of the Royal Irish Regiment."It was absolutely Aaron's intention to make a career of being a soldier...
[...] Lt Col Colin Weir, commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Irish Regiment, said: "Ranger Aaron McCormick was the epitome of the Irish infantry soldier - tough, selfless, good-humoured and full of compassion."
The War on Terror has a tribute up to this fine young man:
Rgr McCormick was very well educated and had aspirations to complete a degree in education in the future, a career to which he would have been well suited. Always ready with a smile, Rgr McCormick was always at the centre of the 'craic' and he will be sorely missed by all members of The Royal Irish Regiment. He leaves behind his mother, Margaret, his father, Lesley, his sisters, Callie-Ann and Tammy, his brother, Michael, and his girlfriend, Becky...
Lieutenant Colonel Colin Weir MBE, Commanding Officer, 1 R IRISH, said: [...]
"At 22, Ranger McCormick was something of an Afghan 'old-hand', looked up to by the more junior Rangers and relied upon by his commanders. In his many battles he was unfailingly brave, and perhaps more tellingly, he was brave even when the adrenaline was not flowing.
In full knowledge of the danger, he was determined that he would be the front man on every patrol, and the first man out of the gate of the checkpoint. He died as a result of an operation to confirm the presence of an IED; a vital first step to clearing it and protecting the lives of local civilians and soldiers alike.
"Ranger Aaron McCormick was a son, brother and companion of whom his heartbroken family and friends can feel intensely proud. This regiment does not forget, and we will continue to pray for him and his loved ones.
"Faugh A Ballagh"
Major Jamie Humphreys, Commander of A Company, 1 R IRISH, said:
"I had the privilege of commanding Ranger Aaron McCormick since May 2010. At only 22 years of age he was already an experienced soldier with a bright future. Very popular within the Company he was very much a soldier's Ranger.
He was a shining example of all that is great about commanding Irish soldiers; strong willed, good humoured, faithful and as brave as they come. His experience from his previous tour in Afghanistan was well known and he was forever passing on his knowledge to the more junior members of the Company.
"He had demonstrated throughout our pre-deployment training that he was totally committed to his job as the point Vallon man for his multiple, and it was in fulfilling this role that he was so tragically killed in action. He was a vital member of his rifle platoon, based in a particularly challenging area of southern Nad 'Ali.
"It was typical of Ranger McCormick to have insisted on being the Vallon man, as he believed he was the best man for the task and wanted to ensure that the soldiers with whom he patrolled were as safe as he could possibly make them.
A qualified infantry assault pioneer, he was well aware of the dangers he faced. He chose this role when he could have avoided being so close to the action and this was characteristic of the dogged determination he displayed. This willingness to do the hard graft and share danger was his hallmark, and the courage that he displayed on a daily basis will never be forgotten. He was a fine example of a Royal Irish soldier.[...]
Lance Corporal Christopher Griffiths and Rgr Stephen McEntaggart who served alongside Rgr McCormick in A Company, 1 R IRISH, said:
"Words cannot describe him - you have to have known him. Good soldier and great friend, he will be a huge loss to A Company. He will be truly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. 'Spectamur Agendo'."
LCpl William Hull, who served alongside Rgr McCormick in A Company, 1 R IRISH, said:
"I had the honour of knowing Ranger Aaron McCormick and working with him since I arrived in A Company. Me, Aaron and Ranger Graham were told to attend the assault pioneer course and Aaron was looking forward to it. It was something he told me that he always wanted to do and when we went down to the course and you could tell that he wanted to do well.
As the course went on, Aaron stood out and he was always stepping to the front to go first on all the tasks. The instructors could tell that he was keen and he was popular among all the people on the course. I will not only remember the good times we had at work, we also had some good nights out that were very memorable. He finished very high on the course and was a credit to all of us in the R IRISH. All my thoughts go out to you, his family and partner at this darkest of times.
"Rest In peace mate, you will never be forgotten."
Rgr David Callaghan who served alongside Rgr McCormick in A Company, 1 R IRISH, said:
"We were in the same section in Kenya for some of our training, and had good times in the desert. In camp we both watched every Star Trek film from the first one to most recent one, even though he preferred Star Wars he would always be willing to watch 'Trek for us!
Last time I saw him was in Check Point TANOOR and he had just received fiive parcels. He was ecstatic and showed me pictures of his family and girlfriend, Becky. Aaron was a great friend and someone I could always rely on. He will be greatly missed by all of his friends and family and will never be forgotten."
Rgr Daniel Jackson, who served alongside Rgr McCormick in A Company, 1 R IRISH, said:
"Aaron went by many names, but to his friends he was 'Jedi'. He was a great friend who will be missed by all close to him. He was always around for you if you had any problems (as long as you provided mug and brew). I, along with his family and friends, will never forget Aaron. My thoughts are with his friends and family."
Rgr Neil McClory, who served alongside Rgr McCormick in A Company, 1 R IRISH, said:
"Over the last two years we have had many good times together, whether it was spending a weekend in camp or heading out to the town and cities around Tern Hill. He will always be remembered within the Company as 'the Jedi' for his love of Star Wars films. "He will be remembered by all of the Company as a close friend that would always stop and take the time to talk to you.
"Rest in peace." [...]
Rgr Thomas Smyth, who served alongside Rgr McCormick in A Company, 1 R IRISH, said:
"Aaron was a close friend and it was a privilege to know him and share a room with him. I will never forget his humour and remember his bed-space at Tern Hill being surrounded with pictures of his family and friends. He will be missed by all who knew him and will be fondly remembered."
There are many more tributes over - from those who knew Ranger McCormick best - at War on Terror News. Go here and read about this great fallen hero, son, brother, boyfriend.
"...Even if you cannot hear my voice, I'll be right beside you..."
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