Glowing tributes to young soldier

IAN CLARKE A young Norfolk servicemen killed in Afghanistan has been described as “one of the most promising soldiers of his generation.”

IAN CLARKE

A young Norfolk servicemen killed in Afghanistan has been described as “one of the most promising soldiers of his generation.”

L/Cpl Alex Hawkins, 22, of Dereham, dreamed of being a sniper from when he was a young boy and after joining Army cadets in his home town, realised his ambition of joining the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment in 2003.

He died on Wednesday in southern Afghanistan “doing the job he loved.”

L/Cpl Hawkins was with two other soldiers - who were injured - when they were caught in an explosion at around 5.50am while taking part in a routine patrol.

The Ministry of Defence said L/Cpl Hawkins was very highly thought of by his fellow soldiers and had a bright future ahead of him.

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Colleagues said he was “modest by nature and let his actions speak louder than words. He had all the key attributes of a soldier and showed courage, determination and leadership skills in abundance.”

The sports-mad soldier leaves behind his parents, his elder sister, and his younger brother who has recently joined the Army.

The MoD released a statement from L/Cpl Hawkins' family - which said: "Alex died doing the job he loved. He dreamed of joining the Army and becoming a sniper. This he achieved within his first year and was the top student on his course.

"He was an excellent cadet and an excellent soldier, a kind, loving son, brother and boyfriend, always thinking of others before himself. He was the light of our life and the world will be a duller place without him.”

His commanding officer Lt Col Stuart Carver said: "L/Cpl Alex Hawkins was one of the most promising soldiers of his generation. A natural leader and trained sniper he was a superb example to others and highly respected throughout the Vikings. He leaves behind some fond memories and a lasting legacy that we will all strive to live up to. Never to be forgotten, he will go down in regimental history as a true professional and close friend who we feel privileged to have served and fought with."

Major Charles Calder, the officer commanding L/Cpl Hawkins' company, said: "He was a truly professional soldier and will be sorely missed, but not forgotten, by all ranks in the company."

Captain Ollie Ormiston, who knew him, said: "L/Cpl Hawkins epitomised the British infantry soldier. Whatever role he was deployed in, he always displayed the utmost professionalism and the other men in the platoon always looked up to him. He was one of the boys and no-one had a bad word to say about him. We will miss him as a soldier, and more importantly as a friend."

L/Cpl Hawkins' friend, L/Cpl Craig “Chicken” Rouse, added: "Any soldier in the British Army would have been honoured to have him fight by his side. He will be sorely missed. Recruits passing out of training should model themselves on him. He was a model soldier."

L/Cpl John “Elvis” King said: "He was a soldier, a friend. He's gone but not forgotten. His name will always live on in Sniper platoon."

Private Harrison “Ford” McCabe said: "He'd always help you out, no matter how stupid or trivial the question. I could always go to him."

Defence Secretary Des Browne said: "The death of such a talented and popular soldier as L/Cpl Hawkins is a dreadful loss. He died defending our country and helping to bring stability to Afghanistan. His contribution will be remembered with honour."

After Wednesday's explosion an emergency response helicopter was requested and L/Cpl Hawkins was flown to the ISAF medical facility at Camp Bastion, but did not survive.

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