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Sergeant Stuart 'Gus' Millar
The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence has confirmed the death of Sergeant Stuart Millar of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
He was killed as a result of an explosion believed to have been caused by a rocket-propelled grenade when he was attacked by insurgents whilst patrolling on foot in Babaji District, Helmand Province on the morning of Monday 31 August 2009.
Sgt Stuart 'Gus' Millar, aged 40 from Inverness, joined the British Army in November 2000, after service in the Territorial Army.
Following training he joined the Mortar Platoon of 1st Battalion The Royal Highland Fusiliers. He served in Northern Ireland, Falkland Islands, Cyprus and Iraq. He moved to The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS) as a mortar fire controller in Belfast in July 2007 and deployed to Afghanistan in April 2009.
Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Cartwright, Commanding Officer of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland said:
"I have been fortunate to know Sgt Gus Millar for many years and we have shared many happy moments, not least dragging ourselves over the Aonach Eagach Ridge in Glencoe some eight years ago. He was one of a very select few characters in the Battalion that I could sound out for 'ground truth', due to his friendship, honesty, integrity and humour.
"Sgt Gus Millar was a dedicated and professional Senior Non-Commissioned Officer. A career mortarman, he loved his job and during this tour had been able to put all his experience and years of training to the ultimate test in the most demanding of environments. He was a wonderfully kind and dependable man: the solid rock amongst the shingle. He had a remarkable sense of duty and has been the continuity in the development of the mortar platoon over the years.
"In his role as a mortar fire controller, he was at the very front of the action throughout the summer, famously being caught on the ITN news on the first day of Op Panther's Claw, complaining that a long fire fight with the insurgents had delayed his 'morning brew'. It was typical of the man: in the thick of the action, professional expertise to the fore, combined with his wonderfully positive and humorous style. But he had a bite when required, and the Jocks knew not to cross the line.
"He had a truly wonderful sense of humour and it is this facet of this great man that we will all miss the most.
"He has given his life in the service of his comrades, for the Royal Regiment of Scotland, his country and the people of Afghanistan. We all consider ourselves truly privileged to have known him, to have served with him.
"He was 40 years young and married his wife Jillian last year. They have a very young and beautiful daughter, Grace. He showed a recent picture of them to the Padre, beamed with pride and tucked it into his notebook, minutes before he deployed on this operation. All our deepest thoughts and prayers are with Jillian and Grace as well as Gus' family and friends at this most tragic time.
"Whilst the pain of this loss to them is unimaginable I hope they will draw considerable strength from the fact that we all will cherish some wonderful memories of the humourous rock that Gus was. We will all miss him terribly."
Major Matt Munro, Officer Commanding Alpha (Grenadier) Company said:
"Sgt Gus Millar will be remembered by his brother soldiers in Alpha (Grenadier) Company as an outstanding soldier and also as a caring friend and a devoted family man. He was great company; we loved his Glaswegian patter as it was guaranteed to raise a smile in even the most trying of circumstances. Gus was an awesome soldier; brave, technically capable, energetic and self-disciplined. He was quite simply a wonderful example to us all.
"Though we will mourn him and miss him terribly our loss is nothing compared to that which his family is suffering; they are in our thoughts and prayers.
"Rest in Peace. Nemo me impune lacessit."
Major Jez Sharpe, Battery Commander, 38 (Seringapatam) Battery said:
"Sgt Gus Millar was as key a figure in the Battery Tac Group as he was in the Battalion. Sergeant Millar had worked with us consistently over the last year and a half and is ready his exceptionally dry sense of humour and willingness to pass on his vast experience made him hugely liked and respected by everyone in the Battery - he will be greatly missed. All our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and daughter."
Captain David Mack, Officer Commanding the Mortar Platoon said:
"Sergeant Gus Millar was renowned throughout the Battalion as an irrepressible, jovial and proud character. Through time spent in Fort George and numerous exercises in Otterburn, Kenya and Salisbury Plain it has been my joy to come to know this great and wonderful man.
"Gus was a professional soldier whose judgment could be trusted without hesitation. An accomplished and inspiring man, Gus possessed remarkable potential. Moreover, he was a courageous man who volunteered for any opportunity to go onto the ground. Once deployed, more often than not, Gus would manoeuvre himself to the forefront of a fight.
"He was confident and proud of himself and the men of the Mortar Platoon. Keen to prove the effectiveness of the men he had trained, Gus was the first mortar fire controller of the Battalion to engage a target.
"Ever enthusiastic to launch his beloved mortars, his booming voice monopolised the net as he took any and every opportunity to call in fire; his tempestuous personality only occasionally requiring reigning in.
"Gus was a genuine man who was honest and forthright. He was an outspoken and opinionated individual for whom subtlety was a skill yet to be mastered – if he did not like something he would make it clear to any and all. Blunt and to the point, Gus was never frightened to air his thoughts regardless of the company. He wore his heart on his sleeve such that one was never in doubt of where he stood with Gus.
"Despite his often strong and uncompromising stance, Gus was also a charming, outgoing, and charismatic figure. He was a natural leader whose welcoming nature drew others into his company. He set the standard for the Jocks, but had the ability to empathise with those under his command – often taking the role of a big brother.
"Renowned for his sense of humour Gus could be relied on to offer a smile or comic relief even in the most demanding situations. His presence alone brought morale and strength to all.
"Although he was in his element in the Army and serving in Afghanistan, he nonetheless possessed those qualities that define a man – he could be gentle and loving, and his heart was squarely focussed on his wife, Jillian, and daughter, Grace, at home.
"It has been my honour to serve with Gus and to consider him my friend. I will deeply treasure the time I spent with him and will sorely miss him."
Captain James Banks, Fire Support Team Commander Alpha (Grenadier) Company said:
"Gus Millar was a soldier of the highest calibre. Not only was he a technically superb mortar fire controller but also a hard working and dedicated Senior NCO.
"He was an extremely grounded gentleman happy at engaging the enemy with devastating effect or taking pride in the design and construction of ablutions for his fellow soldiers. Gus had the presence of a fearsome soldier but the heart of a caring father.
"His ever present smile and sense of humour will be greatly missed. Whether it was complaining about missing his Tea on the News at Ten, whilst under contact, or making fun of everybody, his wit was legendary. Sgt Gus Millar was a one-off, he will be sorely missed. He will never be forgotten."
Captain Ben Collis, Adjutant and a former Mortar Platoon Commander said:
"Sgt Gus Millar joined us in July 2007 when we were reforming the Mortar Platoon following a Northern Ireland tour. We badly needed experienced mortarmen and Gus Millar arrived, like a tidal wave – he was passionate about his job. He enthused a generation of young Jocks in the Platoon and was trusted absolutely by everyone.
"He made a point of mentoring his Junior NCOs, though he would not hesitate to step in if he thought grip was required. It was impossible not to like the man; he had a dry, sophisticated wit and was in every way a gentle giant. Working with him was enormous fun; he will be hugely missed."
Sergeant Syd Masson, longtime friend, comrade and Mortar Section Commander:
"Anyone that ever met Gus Millar will always remember him, he was a larger than life character that filled a room with his presence, he was an individual of overwhelming ability, as a soldier, he graced the lives of everyone who encountered him.
"A loyal and trusted comrade but above all a true friend, he leaves behind a hole that can never be filled. My heart goes out to Jillian and little Gracie whose loss far outweighs anything that we may be experiencing at this devastating time."
Captain Samuel Newson, Second in Command Alpha (Grenadier) Company said:
"Gus was the oldest man in the Company and it sometimes felt as if someone had brought their Granddad along, albeit a Granddad who could move around the battlefield at alarming pace and co-ordinate fire missions at the same time.
"The paternal aspect to Gus was in reality due to his irrepressible good humour and the reassuring calm with which he brought to any situation.
"He took great pride in his job and revelled in a fire mission successfully executed but always in a professional and understated manner. He had been with the Company since Kenya and contributed so much on so many levels, as irreplaceable as he was irrepressible he leaves a huge void in the Company."
Warrant Officer Class Two Callum Scott, Second in Command of the Mortar Platoon said:
"Sgt Gus Millar was a larger than life character in the Mortar Platoon and within the Battlegroup as a whole. He had a strong personality and inspired others with his diligent approach to any task. He will be remembered for his honesty, integrity, knowledge and courage.
"He was always the first to volunteer and inspired others to follow suit. If he felt something was amiss or needed rectifying he was not afraid to raise his concerns regardless of who he was addressing. He could always be relied upon to carry out any task to the highest standards never taking the easy option.
"His knowledge of mortaring was second to none which allowed him to provide effective support to whoever required it.
"He was always to be found where the action was. He understood that in order to provide the best support to the troops he had to be in a position to observe what was going on. This meant that he was always to be found in the heart of the battle doing what he did best calling in mortar fire. He was an inspiration to others as they knew that if they were in trouble they could rely on Gus to help."
Sergeant Gordon Porter, Mortar Fire Controller said:
"To all who knew Gus he was a larger than life character and his passing will leave a huge void in those who were closest to him. He was a friend to all and never let anyone pass him by. He was always chatting to someone, usually at great length, regardless of who they were."
"He was a diligent, professional, and enthusiastic soldier. He had immense moral courage and would always fight his corner regardless of who the disagreement was with. His enthusiasm would rub off on his soldiers as well and he would often push them beyond the limits they believed they were capable of. He always gave 100% and expected no less from his subordinates and indeed his peers."
Sergeant Ross McBride, Forward Air Controller Alpha (Grenadier) Company said:
"Gus was a popular member of the team a professional at every level who loved doing his job and loved his family fiercely, he was often the first person to make light of a bad situation and then call in accurate mortar fire when required, a high calibre SNCO who will be sorely missed by all, my thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.
"EMERALD 51A end of mission rest!"
Corporal Dave Muirhead, Mortar Command Post Operator said:
"Gus was a fun loving character with a witty sense of humour. He was very much a soldier in every sense of the word and always strived to be the best at whatever he did. He was regarded as a strong leader, certainly amongst the soldiers within the platoon. Not only was he a pleasure to work with he was perfect role model who never suffered fools gladly.
"During his time in Afghanistan he excelled doing a job he loved. His enthusiasm reflected on all who had the privilege of serving alongside him. Gus had a real love of his previous battalion the Royal High Fusiliers of which we were often reminded. However, he also demonstrated a great passion and love for the Black Watch Battalion. Although most believed he just had a real passion for soldiering.
"It is with deep regret and sorrow that we have to say goodbye to one of the finest to have served within the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and closest friends at this sad and difficult time, more so with his wife Jillian and his young daughter Grace who he adored with all his heart.
"NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT."