As I am sure you know, on Wednesday, a member of the Royal Air Force Regiment was killed whilst on patrol in Afghanistan.
Senior Aircraftsman (SAC) Luke Southgate, was due to celebrate his 21st birthday in just a few days, and was killed whilst driving his WMIK Landrover.
I don’t know Luke. I had never met him. But I do know a couple of people on II Sqn RAF Regt, but I haven’t heard if they are ok or if they were even involved in the incident that killed Luke.
Given the jobs that they do, I am hoping that they weren’t.
If you follow me over on Twitter you’ll know that I post an RIP for every serviceman killed out in Afghan (and indeed anywhere else for that matter), but I am aware that sometimes it could appear as just another name being posted on the internet.
It isn’t though, is it?
The reason I have been doing this is twofold. Firstly, in a very small way, it is my way of showing respect to a fellow serviceman who has died, and secondly I hope in some small way it reminds people who follow me on Twitter, who are not connected to the military in anyway other than that, that people are fighting and dying. No matter what the politics of the wars are, servicemen do the bidding of the government of the day and put their lives in danger wherever the government sends us. They put their lives at risk, and unfortunately some of them die doing it.
But the latest death, has made me think again. It’s not just about these two things.
It’s the fact that the person who has died and has been named in the news, for those 15-20 seconds on the TV, is somebody’s son or daughter. It’s somebody’s brother, sister, husband, girlfriend, father or mother. It’s a member of somebody’s family.
It will always leave a hole in somebody’s life…
I was going to write about how it’s closer to home it is being a member of the RAF who has died. And about how we in the RAF consider ourselves to be part of a big RAF family.
But that demeans the deaths of any and all who have died on active service over the past few years, and does a disservice to the families of the soldiers, sailors, marines and airman who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
It doesn’t matter whether the person who died was in the Army, the Navy, was a Marine or was in the RAF. Despite the jokey rivalries that may exist between the services, I think all servicemen are part of a wider family.
But that family is nothing like the families that tonight are grieving for the loss of a loved one.
I would like, then, to offer my deepest condolences to the family of SAC Luke Southall, to Rifleman Martin Kingett (who also was named today) and to the as yet unnamed soldier from 28 Engineers, and to families of ALL the servicemen who have died in the recent conflicts of Iraq and Afghanistan.
If I could then, I would like to direct you to this page, on the BBC website that lists ALL who have been killed on active service. Please, take a moment or two to read the names. If you believe, say a short prayer for them, and then when the next name is released, think not just of the person who has been named, but also think of the family that that name leaves behind.