The brave and the true
Capt Hale and Rfn Wild went to the aid of LBdr Hatton, who had been injured by an IED. They were carrying him to a medical helicopter near Sangin in Afghanistaqn when a second IED was detonated. Captain Mark Hale, 2 RIFLES (left), Rifleman Daniel Wild of 2nd Battalion The Rifles (right) and Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton of 40th Regiment Royal Artillery (center) died on August 13th.
These three men have been on our mind. Capt Hale, Rfn Wild and LBdr Hatton joined the Armed Forces and went out to fight in Afghanistan at the command of their Parliament and their democratically elected leaders.
We voters have the luxury of demanding that elected leaders truthfully tell us what they are doing and why and we have a responsibility to voice our concerns and hold our government accountable.
The soldiers of the Armed Forces defend the actions of our representative governments with their lives. They cannot say, prefer not to, rather not, you haven't really thought that through, have you, old chap?
They cannot draw a veil between their lives and the idiocies of elected representatives, as we may try to do. Their lives are lived on the perilous edge where Parliament's decision-making meets explosive reality.
We are not attempting to second-guess the response of the British government to terrorism in Afghanistan. Simply consider these men, and when you have reached the end, answer, if you would, our question.
Captain Mark Hale
One of those men was Captain Mark Hale. Born on April 9th 1967 in Bournemouth, Captain Hale was a father figure to his men. Fellow soldiers said -
"He sorted out big issues easily and with no fuss. . .he breathed courage into the platoons he served alongside". He worked hard and "developed novel options in response to problems . His philosophy was 'I don't have worries and I don't believe in crises'".
He was "a complete rock when the chips were down".
"Fiercely fit", Captain Hale loved cycling, rowing and rugby. He was "a genuine thinker" who had a Masters in Psychology.
He was "a giant of a man in every sense of the word. Honourable, intelligent, utterly professional and loyal. He has touched the lives of so many people over his 20 plus years' service and there will be so very many people in the West Country and way beyond who will be absolutely devastated that a man of such stature has fallen".
"He wouldn’t ask anyone to do a task he wasn’t willing to do himself, a fact widely acknowledged by all who knew him and, as such, sought to live out the example of Christ".
". . .we loved the way he put his arms around those having a harder time of it".
Mark Hale was "a devoted husband, adored by his wife Brenda", and "a loving and exceptional father to his two daughters".
With him on patrol on August 13th was young Rifleman Daniel Wild of 2nd Battalion.
Rifleman Daniel WildRifleman Wild was born on July 18th 1990 in Easington. Volunteering to serve, he left behind his mother, step-father, sister, brothers and girlfriend.
His commanding officer wrote -
"He has been fearless and his platoon adored him for it. He was smaller than most (smaller than everyone, if I am being honest) and, when laden, appeared to disappear under the extraordinary burden the boys all carry here.
"But Rifleman Wild carried his load lightly and was in no sense a 'small man'. In a land of metaphorical giants here in Sangin, he was as tall as any of them, perhaps more so".
He was "an exceptional shot", and had passed courses so he could administer life-saving first aid whilst patrolling. "A brother to all", 'Wildy' was always the first man to volunteer for a mission. "He died helping to carry a wounded friend to a helicopter landing site for evacuation."
The wounded friend was Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton, a fellow soldier who was caught in an improvised explosive device blast whilst on foot patrol providing security for elders prior to the Afghanistan elections.
Lance Bombardier Matthew Hatton
Lance Bombardier Hatton was born on June 15th 1986 and was from Haxby in North Yorkshire.
He was "a highly popular character within a very close-knit Tactical Group". He deployed with the 2 RIFLES Battle Group as an Observation Post Assistant, a demanding role that required "initiative, foresight, composure under extreme pressure, clarity of thought, physical and mental robustness, and tactical awareness".
Matt Hatton revelled in the camaraderie of soldiers. As a member of the Fire Support Team, he was "a master of his art - he has dug my Riflemen out of some very hairy moments", observed a commanding officer in 2 RIFLES.
"Unfailingly cheerful, with "a heart of gold", 'Hatts' wanted to make a difference in Sangin. He leaves behind his mother, father, sisters and girlfriend.
You can read more tributes to these three brave, true men here.
Ave atque Vale.
We look for their equals in Parliament, among our recent Prime Ministers - and fail to find them.
Can you find their equals among your elected representatives?