Remembering Lance Corporal Liam Tasker and Theo

The body of a soldier who died along with his dog in Afghanistan last week has returned home to the UK.

Most days when I’m sitting in front of my PC I tend to drop in on the BBC New website.  Today (last Thursday) was no exception.  However I did not expect to be so moved by a story of the death of a British soldier in Afghanistan together with his sniffer dog.  Here’s how the BBC reported it.

Liam and Theo, RIP

The body of a soldier who died along with his record breaking sniffer dog in Afghanistan last week has returned home to the UK.

Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, from Kirkcaldy in Fife, was shot dead while on patrol in Helmand province.

The ashes of the 26-year-old’s dog Theo were flown home on the same plane.

L/Cpl Tasker, who was called a “rising star” by Army chiefs, was shot by Taliban snipers and Theo died of a seizure shortly after his master.

The soldier and his 22-month-old dog had made 14 finds in five months while on the frontline.

The pair’s successes at uncovering so many explosions and weapons had resulted in their tour of Afghanistan being extended by a month.

Just three weeks ago, springer spaniel Theo was praised as a record breaking Army sniffer dog.

The body of L/Cpl Tasker and the ashes of Theo were flown to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire at lunchtime, before a cortege passed through Wootton Bassett, the Wiltshire town which has built up a tradition of welcoming back fallen heroes.

But what the BBC report doesn’t make clear is that Theo, L/Cpl Tasker’s dog, did not die in the action that killed Liam but of a seizure just three hours later.  Here’s how the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported the sad event.

Hundreds of mourners lined the main street through the Wiltshire town to honour Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, who was shot while on patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan on March 1.

The crowds were swelled by family pets and a dozen police and Prison Service dogs at the repatriation ceremony for the 26-year-old soldier, whose dog Theo died from a seizure three hours after his master was killed.

L/Cpl Tasker’s family said they believe the dog died from a broken heart.

The body of L/Cpl Tasker, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, and the ashes of Theo had earlier been flown back to RAF Lyneham in the same aircraft.

L/Cpl Tasker was the subject of the repatriation ceremony but Theo’s ashes will be presented in private to his family.

So a silent prayer this Sunday for Liam and Theo and for all those who knew them both.  Finally, if anyone wants to share a thought on the UK Forces in Afghanistan Blog then here’s the link to the Post that mentions the death of these two brave soldiers.

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