Bournemouth Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

Tributes have been paid to two British servicemen shot dead while on patrol in Afghanistan.

Private Conrad Lewis from Bournemouth served with 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment. He was described by his family as someone who "made you feel good about life''.

Private Lewis Hendry, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, was said by his parents to have had a "true heart of gold'' and a smile which "lit up every room he walked into''.

The Ministry of Defence said the men were shot while on patrol in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand Province on Wednesday.

Pte Hendry and Pte Lewis were on a foot patrol designed to reassure the local population and gather census information in a small village north of the Nahr-e Bughra Canal.

The patrol came under fire and, during the ensuing firefight, Pte Hendry suffered a serious gunshot wound.

He was given medical attention at the scene and then moved by helicopter but died of his wounds.

Pte Hendry, who would have celebrated his 21st birthday on February 12th, was born in Norwich and was educated at Northgate High School in Dereham.

He joined the Army in May 2008 and was deployed to Afghanistan in October.

The MoD said he was an intelligence specialist who used "his considerable charm and sense of humour'' to build relationships with the Afghan people.

In a statement, his family said:

"Lewis lived life to the full - and more! Words can't describe how much he will be missed.

"He was not only a soldier, a son, brother and grandson but a friend to all.

"He was proud to be a member of the 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment.

"Loved by so many and will never be forgotten.''

His parents, who the Mod said did not want to be named, added:

"So proud of him, his smile lit up every room he walked into. A true heart of gold and such a lovely boy to be around!''

Pte Hendry's brother, Jamie, said:

"He was not only a brother but my best friend. Our childhood memories will never be forgotten.''

Pte Hendry's sister, Stacey, said:

"You are my rock, you were always there to protect me. We have so many memories that will never be forgotten, I love you so much.''

Pte Lewis also deployed to Afghanistan in October last year.

The MoD said the patrol came under fire at 9.47am on Wednesday, 800 metres north-east of the checkpoint.

During the ensuing firefight, Pte Lewis suffered a serious gunshot wound, the MoD said.

He died later despite receiving medical attention at the scene and being moved by helicopter.

Pte Lewis, 22, was born in Bournemouth and started his military career when he joined the Territorial Army in August 2008.

Originally serving in 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment, the Territorial Army Battalion, he was accepted for a full-time reserve service appointment in 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment in July 2009.

The MoD said he volunteered for the crucial but highly dangerous role of lead scout for his section, at the front of every patrol.

Pte Lewis's family said in a statement:

"Conrad was an outstanding young man, with a character the depth of which you only truly find out in these sad circumstances.

"He was a warm-hearted, funny, kind, loving, handsome and clearly a brave young man.

"It is a cliche to say that everyone loved him, but they did - from people of his own generation to adults of all generations.

"If you met Conrad, you were touched by him and he made you feel good about life. He had a smile that literally could light up a room, change your mood for the day and a hug that made you feel loved and safe, which he never shied away from giving, regardless of the time, place or audience.

"He wanted to be a soldier, he wanted to be a Para and he served the regiment and his nation with the spirit and vigour that he approached everything in life, full-on and without fear or restraint.

"He had joined the Parachute Regiment on a military gap year in 2008, but signed on for two more years to ensure he could serve with his new comrades in Afghanistan.

"He wanted to carry on a military career and had aspirations to join the Special Forces, something we all believe he would have achieved.

"He always considered others before himself, which made him the most fantastic and loving son, brother, boyfriend, friend and colleague. He carried this trait into his work in Afghanistan and he knew that, together with his unit, he was making a big difference.''

The statement went on:

"He is remembered by many as an outstanding sportsman - semi-professional footballer, club swimmer, biathlon champion at a young age and county sprinter. Never one to miss a moment at the gym, he was an incredible athlete.

"We have received incredible support from our family and his friends, and tributes have poured on to a Facebook group set up by them.

"We thank all those supporting us, it is so good to know that someone can be around for such a short amount of time and touch so many people. He loved you all and you should be so proud of the man you made him.

"He had the obligatory military tattoo - but typical of the lad his was script and it read 'God gave me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference'. Conrad did change things. We are all incredibly proud of him. 'Until the reorg son'.

"With love, the whole family.''

Pte Lewis's girlfriend, Georgina, known as George, said:

"Con, you are leaving an enormous gap in mine and all our friends' lives.

"Words cannot even explain how much I will miss my best friend and my soul mate.

"To me you are amazing and there will never be a day that goes by that I will not be thinking of you and missing you.

"I feel so blessed to have had you in my life, you have made these last three years truly unforgettable. I am so proud of you Con.

"Better to have loved you and lost you, than to never have had the chance to love you at all.''

Lieutenant Colonel John Boyd, Commanding Officer, 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:

"Private Conrad Lewis demonstrated the very finest of British society. He was a man who volunteered to serve both his country and his fiercely proud regiment.

"It takes a special sort of individual to join the Parachute Regiment, it takes an exceptional individual to deploy on operations, and for that he will always be remembered within the 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment.

"Our reservists are doing an outstanding job alongside their regular counterparts and, although Conrad died doing the job he loved, amongst his brothers in arms he will never be forgotten.''

Lieutenant Colonel James Coates, Commanding Officer, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said Pte Lewis was

"a supremely popular soldier who faced danger time and again but always put his comrades first''.

"As a reservist soldier, he might have chosen the easy option in life and remained a part-time soldier at home rather than deploying to Afghanistan. However, he aspired to serve with 3 Para on operations and he fulfilled this ambition in spades.''

Maj Todd said Pte Lewis had been

"a true inspiration to his fellow soldiers'' and was "always at the front, without fear and eager to get to grips with the enemy''.

"Conrad died along side Private Lewis Hendry in the same manner in which he had lived - looking out for his friends.''

Private Luke Flanagan, Fire Support Group 1, attached to A Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said Pte Lewis was "probably the loudest bloke in the checkpoint'', adding:  "I probably owe you my life and I will remember you for the rest of it.''

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said:

"Private Lewis Hendry and Private Conrad Lewis have both made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives to bring security to the Nad-Ali district, denying the area to the enemy and protecting the safety of our country.

"Private Lewis Hendry was clearly an exemplary soldier who was courageous, professional and a trusted member of Patrols Platoon.

"Those who served alongside Private Conrad Lewis speak of an individual with boundless enthusiasm, a brave volunteer soldier who was committed to his fellow paratroopers and to military life.

"My thoughts are with their families, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.''