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Tributes Paid To Cornish Airman Killed in Afghanistan

Corporal James Walters
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9:50am 28th April 2014
(Updated 9:50am 28th April 2014)

The family of a Cornish airman, killed when his helicopter crashed in Afghanistan, say he has left a "huge hole in all our hearts."

Corporal James Walters from Leedstown near Hayle was among five people who died when it came down near Kandahar.

His commanding officer calls him "a professional soldier, a devoted father and a loving husband."

The victims included Captain Thomas Clarke, Warrant Officer Spencer Faulkner, also from the Army Air Corps.

They were all based at RAF Odiham in Hampshire, along with Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan from the Royal Air Force, who also died, said the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas of the Intelligence Corps was another victim.

An investigation is taking place into why the aircraft crashed on Saturday morning in the Takhta Pul district of Kandahar, 30 miles from the Pakistan border.

The crash site has been cordoned off and the wreckage will be inspected.

The MoD has denied Taliban claims that insurgents shot down the helicopter, and initial investigations indicated a "tragic accident" during the routine flight rather than enemy action.

Born on 11th January 1978, Corporal James Walters joined the Army in March 1996 as a driver. He subsequently moved to 668 Squadron at the School of Army Aviation at Middle Wallop where he completed additional training before being posted to 5 Regiment, Army Air Corps in Northern Ireland in 1998. In April 2001, he moved to 4 Regiment Army Air Corps at Wattisham and undertook training to become ground crew on the Apache helicopter. He subsequently moved to 3 Regiment Army Air Corps completing an operational tour in Kuwait during the conflict in 2003.

Operating with the Lynx helicopter force he proved to be a highly competent crewman, deploying to Afghanistan on numerous occasions in support of UK Armed Forces.

The MoD has called him "A highly respected Junior Non-Commissioned Officer, he was a consummate professional and an example to all who served with him."

His Commanding Officer paid tribute: "Corporal James Walters, or 'Bungle' as he was known, was a hugely committed soldier who had served with distinction throughout the Army Air Corps. Respected and well liked, he was always a mentor and friend to the less experienced members of the Unit.

"Never afraid to face the challenges of operations in Afghanistan, he served with immense skill and bravery. A huge character, the loss of Bungle has devastated the Squadron and our thoughts and prayers are with his young family at this immensely sad time".

The Commander for the deployed Lynx Detachment said of him: "Corporall James Walters was a loyal, dependable and extremely professional aviator who was a privilege to command. His quiet demeanour masked his extremely quick wit and he would regularly be at the centre of any debate; especially when the subject involved rugby or Cornwall.

"I was fortunate enough to have flown with Cpl Walters on numerous occasions back at Royal Air Force Odiham and his professionalism in the aircraft was unsurpassed. He was never found wanting and was always the first to volunteer he was liked and respected by all who knew him. It is fair to say that amongst Lynx aircrew in the Army Air Corps he was known and liked without exception.

"A professional soldier, a devoted father and a loving husband he will be missed by all.  My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Tracey, daughter Lainey and his family and friends at this difficult time".  

His family said: "We cannot begin to comprehend the tragic loss of a beautiful and loving husband, daddy, son, and brother. James has left a huge hole in all our hearts".

James helped Tom Christophers out with his milk round when he was a lad. Tom told Pirate FM: "It's a terrible shock because I was only talking to his mum last week. We were talking about the family and she was saying James was always mentioning the milk round and asking how we were - so it is a shock.

"He's a great representative for the area. He's always carried himself very well and I'm sure he was an excellent soldier. He was well liked by everyone who knew him."

9:50am 28th April 2014

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