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Cornish Airman Repatriated

Corporal James Walters
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9:16am 6th May 2014
(Updated 9:16am 6th May 2014)

Army soldiers on a training exercise in Cyprus remember the Cornish airman killed when his helicopter crashed in Afghanistan.

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.

A repatriation ceremony will be held at RAF Brize Norton on Tuesday afternoon.

Pirate FM is the only Cornish radio station on a training exercise with 6 Rifles in Cyprus, where reserves and regulars have been remembering to the man known to his friends as "Bungle."

The Padre for 6th Battalion The Rifles, the Reverend Gary Birch, held a Drumhead service in the field: "For any of these guys who could have been on tour it could have been them and there's a close community from the military and when you lose one, you lose a family member."

Service for soldiers in the field 

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".

9:16am 6th May 2014

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