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inmemoriam

RIFLEMAN SHELDON LEE JORDAN STEEL KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN

Rifleman Sheldon Steel, of the 5th Battalion The Rifles waskilled on the 27th November 2011. He was taking part in a foot patrol todisrupt insurgent freedom of movement and to reassure the localpopulation in Babaji in the Lashkah Gah district which is inthe Nahr-e Saraj (S) area of operations. He was airlifted to the fieldhospital at Camp Bastion where he was declared killed in action.

Rifleman Sheldon Lee Jordan Steel (20) from Leeds joined the Army inNovember 2009, and underwent his combat training at the InfantryTraining Centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire. Rifleman Steel passedout of basic training in April 2010 and shortly afterwards joined 5thBattalion The Rifles, based in Paderborn, Germany.

During his time with the Battalion, Rifleman Steel had achieved a greatdeal. He arrived at a busy time in the Battalion's calendar and wasimmediately thrust into further training, learning the intricacies ofthe Warrior armoured fighting vehicle, while developing the closest ofbonds with those whom he would later deploy to Afghanistan with. Thistraining culminated in a six-week, vehicle-mounted exercise in Canada inlate 2010. Throughout this testing period, Rifleman Steel demonstratedthat he was quickly developing into a skilled, robust and intelligentsoldier, in keeping with the Regiment's tradition of the 'thinking,fighting Rifleman'. This early promise was honed through Afghanistanpre-deployment training in the first half of 2011. Rifleman Steel'sskills as a marksman, coupled with his mature approach and calm, focused
demeanour were harnessed on the Sharp Shooters' course, which he passedwith ease. A highly professional soldier he had proven to be one of thestars of his company. He was focused on his career, rightly ambitious,and showed great promise.

He leaves behind his mother Victoria; his sisters Cody and Carys andbrother Kameron. The family said :"Sheldon was loving, caring and affectionate with his family and we allheard from him regularly. He loved being in the Army from when he was inthe Army Cadets to joining 5 Rifles. He was very fit and ran a marathonin June this year. He won prizes for his soldiering both in training andin a Regimental competition. He had a good sense of humour andfrequently joked with us all. He was a big lad - all 6 foot 4 in of him- with a big heart. His Nanas had to stand on the wall outside the houseto kiss him "Goodbye". Words cannot explain how much he will be missedby us all.
We have already received a lot of support from family, friends and workcolleagues and we really appreciate this. "

Tribute from Ashleigh Craig, Adam Thomas, Paul Bone and Sam Hall - allformer Army Cadets with 'C' Company Yorkshire North and West Army CadetForce and friends of Sheldon:"Sheldon was a good mate and we couldn't have wished for a betterfriend. He was always ready for a laugh. He was so keen to betterhimself and be good at his job. He was kind and had a very honestapproach to life. Every time he came back on leave he went mad onfitness and part of him was back with the Regiment. He was so brave andwe are all so proud of him. We will miss him a lot."

Lieutenant Colonel Tom Copinger-Symes, Commanding Officer, 5th Battalionhe Rifles, Combined Force Nahr-e Saraj (South), said:

"Rifleman Sheldon Steel was the essence of a 'Delta Dog', as the membersof D Company 5 RIFLES are known. As a club within a club, the DeltaDogs have a particularly special identity in our Battalion and RiflemanSteel was immensely proud of that identity. And so he should have been,because he was, and will remain until next year, the 'Top Dog' - whichis to say the winner of D Company's annual competition to find theirbest Rifleman.

"Rifleman Steel won this accolade in the last few weeks before deployingto Helmand, in an arduous and hard-fought contest that fully stretchedthe Riflemen's mental and physical capacities. As a result he wasafforded the honour of sitting at the centre of the top table at theformal 'Dog's Dinner' - a full-on Regimental Dinner for all members ofthe Company, surrounded with Regimental Silver from the Officers' andSerjeants' Messes and entertained by the Battalion's Buglers. None ofus will ever forget his humble and self-effacing delight that night,mingled with a touch of embarrassment, at finding himself at the centreof such attention. He truly was a special blend of physical robustness,sharp intellect, old-fashioned politeness, and natural leadership flair- all underscored by a quiet confidence and understated ambition.
Unquestionably a rising star, unsurprisingly excelling on operations inAfghanistan, and clearly destined for the Corporals' Mess following thistour, Rifleman Steel had made his mark across the Battalion in doublequick time.

"His death in an IED blast has taken one of our very best and we will beso much the poorer for his loss. Nevertheless, we have been enriched byhis presence amongst us, his professionalism, and his passion for ourchosen career. He now joins the list of legends who have, by their hardwork and sacrifice, made progress in this part of Afghanistan ever moreattainable. And the manner of his passing reminds us, in the words ofthe Grace spoken at his Dog's Dinner, that 'it is not the size of thedog in the fight; but rather the size of the fight in the dog'. As aRifleman, as a brother-in-arms, he will never be forgotten.

"The thoughts and prayers of every member of 5 RIFLES Battlegroup nowturn to his mother Victoria, his sisters Cody and Carys, and his brotherKameron, as well as his wider family and friends."

Major Matt Baker, Officer Commanding D Company, 5th Battalion TheRifles, said:


"Rifleman Steel was quite genuinely the best Rifleman in my Company andthe one with the greatest potential. He excelled at everything he did.A proud Yorkshireman, he was forthright and independent, a real thinkingRifleman. He won D Company's Top Dog competition (to identify the topRifleman in the Company) back in September and would have attended aJNCO cadre on his return. He will be sadly missed by us all, butespecially his mates in 14 Platoon. Our thoughts are with his mother,his sisters and his brother."

Warrant Officer Class Two Owen Mitchell, Company Serjeant Major, DCompany, 5th Battalion The Rifles, said:

"Rifleman Steel was one of the best Riflemen I have ever served with.He showed great potential and I know would have made a very capableJunior Non-Commissioned Officer. Rifleman Steel took pride in everytask that was given to him. He was diligent, enthusiastic and apleasure to work with. Rifleman Steel was a true Top Dog of Delta
Company, he will be sadly missed by all of D Company and myself."

Second Lieutenant Allan Tuffin, Officer Commanding, 14 Platoon, DCompany, 5th Battalion The Rifles, said:

"Very few Riflemen could match the potential that was so clearly seen inRifleman Steel. He was dedicated to his work and more focused on hiscareer than any Rifleman I know. Despite always setting his sights highI am certain that he had what it would take to achieve all of hisaspirations and I know that he would have gone far.

"He was a strong Rifleman; physically, in his heart and in hischaracter. He was a loyal friend, an exceptional soldier and anintegral member of the platoon. In him could be seen all the qualitiesof a professional thinking Rifleman. I could not have wished for norimagined a better soldier to have had the privilege to command.

"The impact of his passing will be great on the Platoon but I know hismemory will serve to inspire all of us to carry on in the way that healways did. He set an example to those who were privileged enough toever go on patrol with him, and we will remember him in all that we do.He will be greatly missed, but he will always live on in our thoughts."

Serjeant Richard Duggan, 14 Platoon, D Company, 5th Battalion TheRifles, said:

"I have had the privilege of being Rifleman Steel's Platoon Serjeantsince he joined the Battalion, in which time he has proved himself inevery way. Rifleman Steel was truly an outstanding Rifleman. He gave100% in all that he did, and would always achieve to the very beststandard. Rifleman Steel was a soldier who had aspirations of doing
great things and reaching high places. With his determination andability I know that he would have achieved them."

"The Platoon has lost a brother and the Rifles have lost one of theirbest Riflemen. At this time our thoughts are with his family, but hewill remain in the hearts of everyone who was lucky enough to know him.RIP, Top Dog."

Lance Corporal Luke Addyman, 14 Platoon, D Company, 5th Battalion TheRifles, said:

"Sheldon was an amazing soldier. It was a great honour to know him anda privilege to call him a friend. He was born to be a soldier and wasthe best Rifleman in D Company. Losing him has hurt us all within thePlatoon as he was loved by all as a brother.God bless, forever in our hearts. 'Swift and Bold' Steely."

Lance Corporal Adam Booth, 14 Platoon, D Company, 5th Battalion TheRifles, said:

"Steely was an exceptional soldier, fit robust and a true athlete. Asstrong as an ox, with a heart of gold, he always helped the otherRiflemen in the Platoon. We have lost one of, if not the best, Riflemenin the Company. He was a natural soldier and would have made a greatNon-Commissioned Officer.Steely, I hope you rest in peace mate. 'Swift and Bold'."

Rifleman Rikki McCreight, 14 Platoon, D Company, 5th Battalion TheRifles, said:

"Sheldon was a good friend. I always enjoyed spending time with him -swimming, water skiing or just hanging out, talking and watching movies.He was a top soldier, he was fit and he knew all there was to know aboutbeing a soldier. I could always go to him for advice. He was ambitiousand he had his career planned out.He will be missed and I'll always remember him."

Rifleman Tony Glancy, 14 Platoon, D Company, 5th Battalion The Rifles,said:

"He had true grit and determination. He was a friend, a man and asoldier. I will always remember him".

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British military casualties - Editorial policy

In the service of our country.

Eulogies for all personnel killed on UK operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere are posted as soon as they have been released by the UK Ministry of Defence. Each eulogy we publish for men down in operations brings a lump to the throat. We are losing the best of the best. Politicians must ensure that, when the newspaper cuttings have faded, their sacrifice has had some meaning, has helped bring about a good result. Anything else would be a waste for which they will be eternally condemned.

There is invariably at least a 24 hour gap between the official release of news of an event and the naming of the dead. This is to allow families to be informed and proper eulogoies to be produced. Occasionally families request no euologies or comment. We abide by guidance we receive on such sensitive matters. We regret that information on those who sacrifice almost as much through grave injury is seldom released by the MoD for operational reasons, and so we are unable to pay tribute.

 

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