FOUR servicemen from RAF Odiham who were killed in a helicopter crash have been named by the Ministry of Defence.
Captain Thomas Clarke, Warrant Officer Class 2 Spencer Faulkner, and Corporal James Walters from the Army Air Corps and Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan from the Royal Air Force, who were all based at RAF Odiham, died in a helicopter crash in the Kandahar province in South Afghanistan yesterday.
Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas from the Intelligence Corps, who was based in London, was also killed after their Westland Lynx Mk 9 helicopter crashed.
Described as an ambitious and competent young officer, Captain Thomas Clarke graduated from the Royal Military Academy, in Sandhurst, in 2008 and was then commissioned into the Army Air Corps as a pilot.
The 30-year-old was posted to RAF Odiham in October 2013 and was deployed to take part in numerous occasions to support training exercises.
In a statement released by his family, they said: “We cannot express enough our devastation at the loss of a truly wonderful husband, son, brother and friend.
“Tom brought so much happiness and love to everyone he knew with his sparkling blue eyes and cheeky smile. He had an absolute passion for life and was the best part of us; we are all poorer today without him.”
Warrant Officer 2 Spencer Faulkner has been described as “liked and highly respected by all who worked with him”.
The 39-year-old joined the Army as a Royal Engineer, Geographic Technician in 1992 and after being selected for employment as aircrew in 2005, he completed his conversion training in 2007 and was officially re-mustered to the Army Air Corps as a pilot.
His family paid tribute to the father-of-two, saying: “Spen was a loving husband to Cally and devoted father to Natasha and Jack, and will be greatly missed. A huge gap has been left in our hearts forever. He has been tragically taken away whilst serving his Country, a job he loved. God rest his soul.”
Corporal James Walters has been praised as “an example to all who served with him” after he joined the Army in 1996 as a driver.
After completing additional training at the School of Army Aviation, in Middle Wallop, the 36-year-old was posted to the Army Air Corps, in Northern Ireland before taking part in training to become ground crew on the Apache helicopter in 2001.
His family described him as a loving father, saying: “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.”
Described as a “hugely influential and well respected officer”, Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan commenced officer training in 2008 and served three tours in Afghanistan.
The 30-year-old was deployed to Afghanistan for the third time on February 13 as an Intelligence Officer in support of the UK’s Armed Forces deployed as part of Operation Herrick.
His Commanding Officer said: “Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan was a hugely influential and well respected officer whose enthusiasm and professionalism permeated every aspect of his work.
“Charming, funny and sharp as a tack, he was immensely proud of his role and of his service. An exceptional officer, he clearly had a bright future ahead of him. His loss has devastated the Station and our thoughts and prayers are very much with his family and friends.”
Group Captain at RAF Odiham, Richard Maddison said: “My deepest sympathies are with their families and friends at this most difficult time, and also with the family of Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas, who was not from Royal Air Force Odiham but who was also on the Lynx aircraft.
“As with all losses of personnel in Afghanistan, we mourn the loss of our most capable and dedicated personnel, who served without complaint and in full understanding of the risks associated with their roles. They were fine ambassadors for their Unit and for Defence as a whole, and we shall not forget them.”
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