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Roll of honour

We have been privileged to have served with these men who gave their lives whilst engaged in operations. They shall always be in our thoughts, and may they inspire us to strive to be the best we can.

Lance Corporal Stephen McKee

Lance Corporal Stephen McKee 9 March 2011

Lance Corporal Stephen McKee, serving as part of Combined Force Nad 'Ali (South). was killed in Helmand, southern Afghanistan, on Wednesday 9th March 2011. He had been operating close to Patrol Base PIMON when the vehicle he was travelling in was struck by an explosive device.

Lieutenant Colonel Colin Weir, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, said:

"The death of Lance Corporal Stephen McKee has sent a wave of shock and sadness through this Battlegroup. Everyone knows the McKees. Everyone respects the McKees. The McKees are in the First Battalion and the McKees are in the Second Battalion."

"It is families like the McKees that make this Regiment what it is; they are the fibre that runs through us and what gives us our fighting spirit. It is because of families like the McKees that we are the winners in this fight."

"Stephen McKee was the finest of men; he was irrepressible, he was utterly reliable and he was a fearsome warrior. As part of the Operations Company he fought the long battle to drive the enemy out of the Nad-e'Ali Canal zone and into the desert."

"And it was into the desert that Stephen and his comrades followed, in pursuit of the enemy. When he died, he was attacking the insurgent in his bases there, harassing him, capturing his weapons and destroying his explosives."

"Not only was he the finest of Irish soldiers, he was a man with great depths of resilience. I had the privilege of spending a little while with him and his wife Carley after their baby daughter passed away unexpectedly last year."

"His parents and his brothers and sisters had closed around the grieving couple. Their strength and the unshakeable of bonds of this wonderful family were truly humbling. Please God be with them all now. Faugh A Ballagh."

Ranger David Dalzell

Ranger David Dalzell4 February 2011

Ranger David Dalzell of 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment was killed in Afghanistan in an operational accident on Friday 4 February 2011. He was 20 years old.

Lieutenant Colonel Colin Weir MBE, Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, said:

"Ranger David Dalzell was an extraordinary young man, and despite his relatively short time in the Army he was already much loved by his fellow soldiers."

"He took to the field of battle like a natural; he was perfectly at home in the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances and his bravery never wavered under fire. He cheerfully carried the heaviest kit, over the most difficult terrain, in the most dangerous place in Helmand and when the time would come to fight he was fierce. Day after day he continually faced down the enemy and fought shoulder to shoulder with his brother Rangers; he was fearless."

"David was a bright, cheerful and popular young man with a core of steel. His presence in the most fought-over part of Helmand contributed significantly to the safety of the population and to the success of our mission. This Battlegroup is deeply upset by his death, but we are also intensely proud of him and his many achievements."

"His time with us was too short, but in that time he experienced more, and contributed more than most men do in a lifetime."

"In our quieter moments we will think of him and pray for him and his heartbroken family and friends."

Ranger Aaron McCormick

Ranger Aaron McCormick14 November 2010

Ranger Aaron McCormick, serving as part of Combined Force Nad 'Ali (South), was killed in Helmand, southern Afghanistan, on Sunday 14 November 2010. He had been helping to clear an area of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during a security patrol in Nad 'Ali when he was killed in an explosion. 

Lieutenant Colonel Colin Weir MBE, Commanding Officer, 1 R IRISH, said:

"Ranger Aaron McCormick was the epitome of the Irish Infantry soldier: tough; selfless; good-humoured and full of compassion. Today, there is a gap in our ranks which no ordinary man could fill. He was the best of his country and we mourn his loss. Today, we have a heavy heart. Tomorrow, in his honour and because it is right, his brother Rangers will steel themselves once again, will step out on patrol, and will face down the enemy. This place is already better for Aaron having been here; we will now build on his good work with renewed determination to win."

"At 22, Ranger McCormick was something of an Afghan 'old-hand', looked up to by the more junior Rangers and relied upon by his commanders. In his many battles he was unfailingly brave, and perhaps more tellingly, he was brave even when the adrenaline was not flowing. In full knowledge of the danger, he was determined that he would be the front man on every patrol, and the first man out of the gate of the checkpoint. He died as a result of an operation to confirm the presence of an IED; a vital first step to clearing it and protecting the lives of local civilians and soldiers alike."

"Ranger Aaron McCormick was a son, brother and companion of whom his heartbroken family and friends can feel intensely proud. This regiment does not forget, and we will continue to pray for him and his loved ones."

"Faugh A Ballagh"

Ranger Justin James Cupples

Ranger Justin James Cupples4 September 2008

Ranger Justin Cupples, aged 29, was killed whilst on a foot patrol in Sangin town, northern Helmand. Whilst moving through the town with 7 Platoon, Ranger Company, an improvised explosive device detonated, severely injuring Ranger Cupples rendering him, and an interpreter, unconscious. Despite the best efforts of his colleagues who administered medical assistance, Ranger Cupples died as a result of his wounds.

Lt Col Ed Freely paid tribute to Ranger Cupples:

"Justin Cupples was a character. He stood out as such. He was from Cavan in the Republic of Ireland, but I always thought of him as our 'US Ranger'. He had an eclectic international background having been born in the United States and had grown up in Miami, Florida. He also had some prior service in the US Navy. His parents were based in New York, yet maintained a family home in Virginia, Co Cavan, Ireland. In 2006 Ranger Cupples married Vilma, his Lithuanian wife, after meeting her in Ireland.

"He was drawn to the Battalion by the Irish fighting spirit and camaraderie. He joined the Battalion and C Company in Tern Hill, Shropshire in 2007. He was an intelligent, bright soldier. I recall engaging with him on a number of occasions - as I say he stood out - whether on arduous training in Kenya last year or on Pre Deployment Training for Afghanistan.

"He was never shy to offer an opinion. Ranger Cupples was part of C (Ranger) Company, an element of 1 R IRISH that was detached to support 2 PARA, as Battlegroup North, in Sangin for Operation HERRICK 8. He was loyal, strong and determined; a very good soldier. I had last seen him in Sangin several weeks ago, where I recall his professional, relaxed and confident assessment of the situation."

Lance Corporal Luke McCulloch

*6 September 2006

LCpl Luke McCulloch from the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, who was killed in action following a contact with Taleban forces in Sangin, Helmand province on Wednesday 6 September 2006.

Lance Corporal McCulloch was part of a force of a hundred soldiers from 1 R IRISH serving in Helmand Province as part of the 3 PARA Battle Group.

Lance Corporal McCulloch was posthumously Mentioned in Despatches for his bravery leading his Section during a ferocious ambush by the Taliban in Zumbelay, Helmand Province.

Lieutenant Colonel McGovern, said:

"Lance Corporal McCulloch was a single soldier, 21 years of age and, although British, was originally born in Cape Town, South Africa. He was a truly outstanding soldier, very colourful and a real character. Larger than life, Lance Corporal McCulloch was a delight to have around and always the centre of attention."

"Operationally, he was extremely experienced and served on Operation TELIC 1, the liberation of Iraq and in Northern Ireland. Most recently, he completed a six-month tour in Baghdad and Southern Iraq. He loved soldiering and was one of the first to volunteer to deploy to Afghanistan just to be with his mates."

"The Battalion is deeply saddened at the recent loss of three brother soldiers, all killed as the result of enemy action. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends at this terrible time. Morale of our troops here remains high and they are determined more than ever to see the job through and ensure that the recent loss of their three friends and comrades will not be in vain."

Lance Corporal Paul Muirhead

Lance Corporal Paul Muirhead6 September 2006

Lance Corporal Paul Muirhead died from wounds sustained during a Taliban attack on his base at Musa Quala in Helmand province, Afgahnistan on Friday 1 September 2006. LCpl Muirhead volunteered to go to Afghanistan alongside his fellow Rangers, it was whilst defending his fellows Rangers that he was killed.

After the attack he had been receiving specialist medical care, and his parents were with him when he died.

Ranger Anare Draiva died in the same incident.

Lt Col Michael McGovern paid tribute to him:

"Lance Corporal Muirhead was a calm, confident and determined member of the Patrols Platoon. A quiet exterior belied a character who was renowned for looking after the younger less experienced soldiers. He was widely respected across the Battalion."

"Lance Corporal Muirhead was an extremely experienced soldier who had served on Operation Telic 1, the liberation of Iraq, in Northern Ireland and most recently a six month tour of Baghdad and Southern Iraq."

"The Battalion is deeply saddened at the loss of two soldiers in this incident, both killed as the result of enemy action. Our thoughts and prayers are of course with their families and friends at this terrible time."

Ranger Anare Draiva

Ranger Anare Draiva1 September 2006

Ranger Draiva died during a mortar attack in Musa Qualah on Friday 1 September 2006. He had volunteered to go to Afghanistan to help the fight against the Taliban during Operation HERRICK 4.

The CO, Lt Col McGovern, paid tribute to Ranger Draiva:

"Ranger Draiva was a superb, strong and courageous soldier. He performed brilliantly well in his recent tour of Southern Iraq and was one of the first to volunteer for the tour of Afghanistan."

"His contribution in Helmand province in extremely challenging conditions has been second to none and those that know Draiva will not be surprised that he was killed in action, in the face of the enemy, defending his comrades and base."

"His death has been received with real sadness by his colleagues in Afghanistan and the rest of the battalion at Fort George, near Inverness."

Corporal Trelford Withers

*8 August 1994

Corporal Withers was off duty, and working in his butchers shop on Downpatrick Street, Crossgar, Co. Down when he was shot and murdered. He was the last serving member of the Royal Irish Regiment to be killed by terrorist action in Northern Ireland.

Private Reggie McCollum

*21 May 1994

Reggie McCollum was abducted by the IRA as he walked home from a party. He was found murdered in fields near his home, by the Mullaghcreevie Estate in Co. Armagh. A pathologist said that he had fought his attackers hard. His brother had been killed by the IRA, and his grandmother died when an IRA bomb exploded in her farmyard.

Private Chris Wren

*31 May 1993

ChrisWren was at home and off duty in Moneymore, Co. Londonderry. A booby trap attached to his car detonated and resulted in his death. He was married with one child.

Lance Corporal Mervyn Johnson

*15 February 1993

Whilst off duty, LCpl Johnson was murdered by the IRA outside his home in Highfern Gardens, Highfield, Belfast as he was wheeling a child's bicycle to his mother in laws house.

He was shot four times from a passing car. Another gunman then fired three more rounds from very close range into his head. He was married with two children and off duty at the time of his death

Ranger Stephen Waller

*30 December 1992

Ranger Waller was off duty at the time of his death, and at home whilst on leave from Cyprus. He was murdered by the IRA as he was watching television with his wife at his home in Westland Crescent, off Cavehill Road, Belfast.

Two gunmen came to the door and asked for his sister. As the door was opened the gunmen pushed past and fired 13 rounds into Stephen. He died a few hours later in hospital. He had been married only 8 months.

Lance Corporal Ian Warnock

*19 November 1992

LCpl Warnock was off duty and was sitting in his car, with his 3 year old son, outside his wife's workplace in Portadown, Co Armagh when he was shot dead in cold blood. Despite being shot 12 times at close range, he still returned fire before he died.

Sergeant Robert James Irvine

*20 October 1992

Sgt Irvine was off duty when he was murdered by an IRA gunman outside his sisters home on the Tamlaght Road, Rasharkin, Co Antrim. He was married with two children and was off duty at the time of his death.

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