Burwell Soldier Killed In Afghanistan
PUBLISHED: 11:03 05 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:11 04 May 2010
A SOLDIER from Burwell has become the British Army s first fatality of 2010 after the Ministry of Defence announced this week that he died in an explosion while on patrol in Afghanistan. Private Robert Hayes was on a routine patrol with comrades from th
A SOLDIER from Burwell has become the British Army's first fatality of 2010
after the Ministry of Defence announced this week that he died in an explosion while on patrol in Afghanistan.
Private Robert Hayes was on a routine patrol with comrades from the Royal Anglian Regiment on Sunday (Jan 3) in the Nad e-Ali area of Helmand province when he was hit by an blast caused by an improvised explosive device.
The 19-year-old former Burwell Village College student has become the 246th servicemen killed in the war-torn country since operations began there in 2001 and the first in 2010.
Private Hayes joined the Royal Anglian Regiment after completing his training in North Yorkshire in March 2009 and was described by his family as a 'gentle and caring person'
A statement from his family read: "Trying to express the true measure of our sorrow -- and our sense of loss -- at this time, is impossible. We are still coming to terms with this devastating news. However, we are strengthened by the thought that he was with his comrades, doing the job he so dearly loved, when his life was taken.
"From childhood, Robbie had one ambition, to be a soldier. He fulfilled his dream, last February, passing out from training, at Catterick, where he was described as a man of great determination and a credit to his platoon.
"After training for Afghanistan he deployed to Helmand province last October. There his potential for promotion became noticeable. Robbie sincerely believed his fellow 'Vikings' were his other, military, family. Although he had an enthusiastic and energetic personality, our son could just as easily behave with the manners of a gentle, reflective, caring person."
Private Hayes was also a keen rugby player and played numerous games for Newmarket Rugby Club before leaving to join the army last year. He also excelled at boxing and won his battalion's boxing championships in 2009
Lieutenant Colonel James Woodham MC, Commanding Officer of Private Hayes' battalion said:
"I was shocked and saddened to the core to learn of the death of Private Robert Hayes killed on Sunday in the Nad-e'Ali district.
"Robert's death leaves a huge hole in The Vikings' ranks; he will be remembered as a trusted member of the team, a young man whose energy for life was contagious, for his bravery and sense of humour."
Private Jason Field, a close friend, said:
"Private Robert Hayes was one of my closest friends. He always walked around with a smile on his face
"I'll never forget the fun times we have shared together such as boxing training and our week in Newquay. I shall miss him dearly and never forget his smile."
A Facebook group set up in memory of the Burwell resident attracted messages of condolence from more than 1000 friends and family.