Tributes have been paid to a ‘talented’ Weeton soldier who died in Iraq.
Lance Corporal Scott Hetherington, known to colleagues as Snowball, lost his life following an incident at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, on Monday, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed last night.
The circumstances surrounding his death have not been confirmed – and an investigation could take months to conclude, it is understood – but it was ‘not the result of enemy activity’, the MoD said.
The 22-year-old, part of the 2nd Battalion the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, based at Weeton since 2011, was in Iraq to help in the fight against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).
He was a member of the Blenheim company and a vehicle commander in the force protection platoon.
Lieutenant Colonel Rob Singleton, the battalion’s commanding officer, said: “Lance Corporal Scott Hetherington was a superb soldier and a first class leader. Utterly professional and talented, he was full of character, fun and his enthusiasm was infectious.
“The Battalion has lost a huge talent and a real character. He will be missed dearly and we will never forget him.
“Our hearts go out to his parents, his siblings, his girlfriend and his young daughter. They are in all of our thoughts.”
The Middleton soldier’s brother wrote online: “I’ll always love you, kid. So proud of you it’s unreal. I’ll never forget you or your stories. You truly are one in a million.
“Sleep tight little bro, look after Nan for us until we meet again. Love you more than I ever let on.”
Around 150 soldiers from the battalion, known as ‘2 LANCS’ flew out on a six-month tour following extensive training. As well as providing protection to other British troopers in the country, they are training Iraqi and Kurdish security forces as part of a larger 500-strong British Army force.
Lance Corporal Lynch, Force Protection Platoon, Blenheim Company, 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, said: “Snowball was a top bloke. You could always count on him to have a laugh, and he always had an answer for everything.
“He was such a big character. He will be greatly missed by the whole Battalion.”
Major General Rupert Jones, Deputy Coalition Commander, said: “The entire international coalition mourns the loss of Lance Corporal Hetherington. He died helping support our Iraqi partners to defeat Daesh and so protect the United Kingdom.”
Taji is home to Camp Cooke, a coalition forces installation 17 miles north of Iraq’s capital Baghdad.
Councillor John Singleton said the news of the soldier’s death has left Weeton’s two ‘close’ communities – the village and camp – shocked.
“My heart goes out to the family,” he said. It’s horrendous. Nobody expects this, even more so when you are part of a training programme.”
As part of the UK’s role in the 68-member Global Coalition committed to defeating ISIS, 2 LANCS is training the local security forces in infantry skills, weapons maintenance, medical, engineering and counter IED (improvised explosive device) measures.