Royal Irish Regiment

Ranger Anare Draiva


1 Royal Irish Regiment, died during an incident in Helmand province at 1600 local time on Friday 1 September 2006.

Ranger Draiva, of 1 Royal Irish Regiment, was 27 years old and Fijian. Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment, Lt Col Michael McGovern, paid tribute to Ranger Draiva: "Ranger Draiva was a superb, strong and courageous soldier. He performed brilliantly well in his recent tour of Southern Iraq and was one of the first to volunteer for the tour of Afghanistan.  "His contribution in Helmand province in extremely challenging conditions has been second to none and those that know Draiva will not be surprised that he was killed in action, in the face of the enemy, defending his comrades and base.  "His death has been received with real sadness by his colleagues in Afghanistan and the rest of the battalion at Fort George, near Inverness."

Lance Corporal Paul Muirhead


The death of Lance Corporal Paul Muirhead killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday 6 September 2006.

[ Lance Corporal Muirhead ]

[ Lance Corporal Muirhead ]

Lance Corporal Muirhead, of 1 Royal Irish Regiment, died from wounds sustained during a Taleban attack on his base at Musa Quala in Helmand Province on Friday 1 September 2006. Since the attack, he had been receiving specialist medical care and his parents were with him when he died. Lance Corporal Muirhead, from Bearley, Warwickshire, was single and 29 years of age. 

His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Michael McGovern, paid tribute to him: "Lance Corporal Muirhead was a calm, confident and determined member of the Patrols Platoon. A quiet exterior belied a character who was renowned for looking after the younger less experienced soldiers. He was widely respected across the Battalion.  "Lance Corporal Muirhead was an extremely experienced soldier who had served on Op Telic 1, the liberation of Iraq, in Northern Ireland and most recently a six month tour of Baghdad and Southern Iraq.  "The Battalion is deeply saddened at the loss of two soldiers in this incident, both killed as the result of enemy action. Our thoughts and prayers are of course with their families and friends at this terrible time.  "I have spoken today to our other troops in Afghanistan - their morale remains high and they are determined to 'get on with the job' and ensure that the loss of their friends and comrades will not be in vain."

Both Lance Corporal Muirhead and Ranger Anare Draiva were part of a force of one hundred 1 Royal Irish soldiers currently serving in Helmand Province as part of the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment Battle Group. Both 1 Royal Irish Regiment and the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment are part of 16 Air Assault Brigade which is the lead British Military Formation in Southern Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Luke McCulloch


South Africa Flag

The death of Lance Corporal Luke McCulloch from the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, who was killed in  action following a contact with Taleban forces in Sangin, Helmand province on Wednesday 6 September 2006.

Lance Corporal Luke McCulloch Luke joined the Army in 2001. After completing his basic training he joined a Rifle Company and after a short period joined the Reconnaissance Platoon. He was an enthusiastic soldier, held in high regard by all ranks in the Battalion, who served with distinction on tours of Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.  A very social person, Luke lived life to the full. He enjoyed travel and was known by his comrades as a bit of a character. He was a sincere and honest individual with a bright personality. Luke was a gifted soldier and a first-rate friend to all who knew him. His friendship, open nature and good humour will be deeply missed. The Commanding Officer and all ranks wish to pass on their deepest condolences and sympathy to his family. Lance Corporal McCulloch's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Michael McGovern, said:  "Lance Corporal McCulloch was a single soldier, 21 years of age and, although British, was originally born in Cape Town, South Africa. He was a truly outstanding soldier, very colourful and a real character. Larger than life, Lance Corporal McCulloch was a delight to have around and always the centre of attention.  "Operationally, he was extremely experienced and served on Op TELIC 1, the liberation of Iraq and in Northern Ireland. Most recently, he completed a six-month tour in Baghdad and Southern Iraq. He loved soldiering and was one of the first to volunteer to deploy to Afghanistan just to be with his mates. "The Battalion is deeply saddened at the recent loss of three brother soldiers, all killed as the result of enemy action. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends at this terrible time.  "Morale of our troops here remains high and they are determined more than ever to see the job through and ensure that the recent loss of their three friends and comrades will not be in vain."

[ US Flag ]

Ranger Justin James Cupples of 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment (1 R IRISH) killed on Thursday 4th September 2008 in southern Afghanistan. Ranger Cupples, aged 29, was killed early on Thursday 4th September 2008 while on a foot patrol in Sangin town, northern Helmand. At 0710 hours local time, while moving through the town with 7 Platoon, Ranger Company, 1 R IRISH, an improvised explosive device detonated severely injuring Ranger Cupples. Despite the best efforts of his colleagues who administered medical assistance, Ranger Cupples died as a result of his wounds. His body was swiftly repatriated to Camp Bastion hospital where Father Ian Stevenson administered absolution and anointed his body. Ranger Cupples was born in the United States on 29 July 1979. He served with the US Navy during Operation Iraqi Freedom. His family lived in Miami before moving to County Cavan in the Republic of Ireland, where he met his wife Vilma. He began training in Infantry Training Centre Catterick in February 2007. On completion of his training he joined The 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment and in September 2007 he was posted to 7 Platoon C Company.  Known as 'Cups' to his friends, Ranger Cupples went to Kenya and took part in Exercise Grand Prix where he performed outstandingly from the outset. He immediately showed himself to be a strong soldier. During the Op HERRICK 8 pre-deployment training, Ranger Cupples showed he had a gift for languages and was an obvious choice for the Operational Language Training Course. He developed his skill for Pashtu and used this to great effect on all patrols. Often the platoon was able to deploy without an interpreter as he was more than capable of communicating with the locals.  Ranger Cupples was a quiet but well spoken individual, enthusiastic and very mature. Motivated and showing all the fine characteristics typified of Irish soldiers, Ranger Cupples was a popular member of Ranger Company and impressed his commanders from the start. He was well known to his comrades as a team player who always put others before himself. He was a proud member of Ranger Company and a great friend to us all. Ranger Cupples will be sorely missed by his commanders and comrades alike. Lt Col Ed Freely, Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, said: "Justin Cupples was a character. He stood out as such. He was from Cavan in the Republic of Ireland, but I always thought of him as our 'US Ranger'. He had an eclectic international background having been born in the United States and had grown up in Miami, Florida. He also had some prior service in the US Navy. His parents were based in New York, yet maintained a family home in Virginia, Co Cavan, Ireland. In 2006 Ranger Cupples married Vilma, his Lithuanian wife, after meeting her in Ireland. "He was drawn to the Battalion by the Irish fighting spirit and camaraderie. He joined the Battalion and C Company in Tern Hill, Shropshire in 2007. He was an intelligent, bright soldier. I recall engaging with him on a number of occasions as I say he stood out whether on arduous training in Kenya last year or on Pre Deployment Training for Afghanistan.  "He was never shy to offer an opinion. Ranger Cupples was part of C (Ranger) Company, an element of 1 R IRISH that was detached to support 2 PARA, as Battlegroup North, in Sangin for Op HERRICK 8. He was loyal, strong and determined; a very good soldier. I had last seen him in Sangin several weeks ago, where I recall his professional, relaxed and confident assessment of the situation. For almost six months he and his fellow Rangers have fought hard to rid Sangin of the Taliban and bring security to the town and its troubled people. "Ranger Cupples was a true Irish Ranger tough, committed and dedicated to his comrades. His colleagues, mindful of the ultimate sacrifice made by Justin, and with him to the last, continue with his and their mission - with steadfast courage and reinforced purpose. "Ranger Cupples' death is a great loss to all of us in 1 R IRISH and to his wife and family. We pray for his soul  and for his wife and his family. May his soul rest in peace." Captain Martin, Second in Command C (Ranger) Company, 1 R IRISH said: "Ranger Cupples was a brave and courageous member of Ranger Company. He will always be remembered for the diversity that he brought to the Company. His Irish twang with his American upbringing had been a welcome characteristic since the day and hour he joined C Company 1 R IRISH. He was an extremely  dedicated soldier - always the perfectionist and a shining star of his Platoon. "Ranger Cupples was a highly motivated yet polite man, quiet and one could see he spent most of his time absorbing the situation and the information around him. Due to his high level of intellect he was a natural choice to learn the Pashtu language. From the moment he arrived in Afghanistan, he set about using these skills to try and help the people and keep his comrades safe and out of harms way. I am thankful to have had the privilege of commanding Ranger Cupples. He will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him. He has touched many people in his life time; may the way be clear for him." Warrant Officer Class 2 (CSM) Frankie O'Connor, C (Ranger) Company, Company Sergeant Major, said: "I have come to know Ranger Cupples very well over the past year. From the start I was very impressed with his polite and enthusiastic manner, coming across as a very intelligent person and a pleasure to talk to. Ranger Cupples was as strong as a horse and never let his comrades down in any situation. I will miss him greatly and I am proud to have been his Company Sergeant Major." Second Lieutenant Ward, Officer Commanding 7 Platoon, said:  "In the short time that I have known Ranger Cupples, I have been impressed by his welcoming demeanour, his loyalty and his courage in the face of adversity. Furthermore, Ranger Cupples excelled in his role as the Platoon signaller and linguist, enabling the Platoon to be more flexible - allowing his comrades to function most effectively on the ground. He was a very intelligent man and I will sorely miss his thoughtful conversation and dry wit."  Sergeant Coult MC, 7 Platoon Sergeant, said: "I first meet Ranger Cupples in Tern Hill. He was one of the more mature members of the Platoon with a history in the US Forces. I quickly took a liking to him due to his dry sense of humour. I made him the platoon signaller because he was quick to acquire knowledge and pick up new techniques. I will sadly miss Ranger Cupples being around me and will always remember how much of an asset he was to his Platoon and Company. Ranger Cupples will always be remembered as a soldier who believed change in Afghanistan was possible. May he rest in peace." Ranger Ryan Cardwell, close friend, 7 Platoon, said: "I first met Ranger Cupples when I was posted to 7 Platoon - he was the first person to welcome me in. Upon arriving in theatre we got on like old friends and I was amused by his jokes (he told a lot!) and his sense of humour. Ranger Cupples will be sadly missed by both myself and the boys of the Platoon; he was a breath of fresh air when times were hard. I will especially miss the cups of tea we went for regularly each afternoon to chat. I will also miss having someone to talk to and share my problems with. Ranger Cupples was a true good friend and I will miss you, rest in peace mate and God bless." Ranger Shane Conboy, friend and colleague, 7 Platoon, said: "On meeting "Cups" for the first time we instantly clicked. He was so easy to get along with and you could talk to him about anything. He was polite and friendly at all times even making a special effort to say hello to me on the flight line in Bastion when I arrived in theatre. He was always first to ask how you were after any incident you may have been involved with. He had an amazing sense of humour too and would have the boys in stitches on many occasions. There will be a massive void in the Platoon now he's gone, but never will he be forgotten. We will all miss him terribly."

Ranger Aaron McCormick, from 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, serving as part of Combined Force Nad 'Ali (South), was killed in Helmand, southern Afghanistan, on Sunday 14 November 2010. Ranger McCormick had been helping to clear an area of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during a security patrol in Nad 'Ali when he was killed in an explosion. Rgr McCormick, aged 22, came from Coleraine in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. On completion of his recruit training, he joined 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment (1 R IRISH) at Tern Hill, Shropshire, in January 2008. Rgr McCormick was posted to A Company, where he served with distinction for two-and-a-half years. His professionalism, selflessness and enthusiasm were well known across the Company and the Battalion. Rgr McCormick had served once before in Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 8, and was quickly identified as a quality soldier. Voluntarily, he took on the responsibility as the lead Vallon (mine detection) man. He would be the first man on any patrol, showing the strength of character and courage that he would come to be known for. Faugh-A-Ballagh! ('Clear the way!'), is the Regiment's motto, and Rgr McCormick was a man who truly cleared the way. Despite a relatively short time in the Army he was able to offer guidance and advice to the newest members of his unit, often over a  brew and having a chat about 'Star Wars'; he was a huge fan. Rgr McCormick was very well educated and had aspirations to complete a degree in education in the future, a career to which he would  have been well suited. Always ready with a smile, Rgr McCormick was always at the centre of the 'craic' and he will be sorely missed by all members of The Royal Irish Regiment. He leaves behind his mother, Margaret, his father, Lesley, his sisters, Callie-Ann and Tammy, his brother, Michael, and his girlfriend, Becky. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. Lieutenant Colonel Colin Weir MBE, Commanding Officer, 1 R IRISH, said: "Ranger Aaron McCormick was the epitome of the Irish Infantry soldier: tough; selfless; good-humoured and full of compassion. Today, there is a gap in our ranks which no ordinary man could fill. He was the best of his country and we mourn his loss. Today, we have a heavy heart. Tomorrow, in his honour and because it is right, his brother Rangers will steel themselves once again, will step out on  patrol, and will face down the enemy. This place is already better for Aaron having been here; we will now build on his good work with renewed determination to win. "At 22, Ranger McCormick was something of an Afghan 'old-hand', looked up to by the more junior Rangers and relied upon by his commanders. In his many battles he was unfailingly brave, and perhaps more tellingly, he was brave even when the adrenaline was not flowing. In full knowledge of the danger, he was determined that he would be the front man on every patrol, and the first man out of the gate of the checkpoint. He died as a result of an operation to confirm the presence of an IED; a vital first step to clearing it and protecting the lives of local civilians and soldiers alike. "Ranger Aaron McCormick was a son, brother and companion of whom his heartbroken family and friends can feel intensely proud. This regiment does not forget, and we will continue to pray for him and his loved ones. "Faugh A Ballagh" Major Jamie Humphreys, Commander of A Company, 1 R IRISH, said: "I had the privilege of commanding Ranger Aaron McCormick since May 2010. At only 22 years of age he was already an experienced soldier with a bright future. Very popular within the Company he was very much a soldier's Ranger. He was a shining example of all that is great about commanding Irish soldiers; strong willed, good humoured, faithful and as brave as they come. His experience from his  previous tour in Afghanistan was well known and he was forever passing on his knowledge to the more junior members of the Company. "He had demonstrated throughout our pre-deployment training that he was totally committed to his job as the point Vallon man for his multiple, and it was in fulfilling this role that he was so tragically killed in action. He was a vital member of his rifle platoon, based in a  particularly challenging area of southern Nad 'Ali. "It was typical of Ranger McCormick to have insisted on being the Vallon man, as he believed he was the best man for the task and wanted to ensure that the soldiers with whom he patrolled were as safe as he could possibly make them. A qualified infantry assault pioneer, he was well aware of the dangers he faced. He chose this role when he could have avoided being so close to the action and this was characteristic of the dogged determination he displayed. This willingness to do the hard graft and share danger was his hallmark, and the courage that he displayed on a daily basis will never be forgotten. He was a fine example of a Royal Irish soldier. "The death of Ranger Aaron McCormick is a massive blow to the Company but it can not compare to the grief now felt by his family, girlfriend and friends. He was a credit to his family and a first class Ranger in A Company 1 R IRISH. He will be sorely missed and our thoughts and prayers here in A Company are with his loved ones at this most difficult of times. "Rest in Peace young Ranger, your fellow Rangers in Afghanistan will drive on even harder now, as we know this is what you would want. "Faugh A Ballagh!" Captain Dougie Beattie MC, Battle Captain, A Company, 1 R IRISH, said: "I had the privilege to serve alongside Ranger McCormick in southern Nad 'Ali and it was with a sense of shock that I heard he had been killed. We had worked closely together on many patrols over the last two months and I was very impressed with his professionalism, compassion, humour and above all courage. "He was a larger than life character, a giant amongst men and he sacrificed his life to ensure the safety of his colleagues and the local Afghan population. Although he will be sorely missed by his many friends and colleagues, none of this will compare to the sense of loss felt by his family. Our thoughts are with them as we continue the work Mac was so passionate about and gave his life for. Capt Toby Whitmarsh, Second in Command, A Company, 1 R IRISH, said: "I first met Ranger McCormick when I joined A Company as a new subaltern. Confident, battle-hardened and immensely capable, he was a daily reminder of what a privilege it is to command in this battalion. "From the moment his platoon touched down at the Checkpoint they were effectively under siege. Surrounded by hostile compounds on all sides they took the fight to the insurgents from the start, driving them away from the population and further and further into the shadows. Ranger McCormick was central to this effort and will be sorely missed." Warrant Officer Class 2 Nicky Roberts, Ex Company Sergeant Major, A Company, 1 R IRISH, said: "It was November 2008 when I first met Ranger Aaron McCormick on taking over A Company as the Company Sergeant Major. The Company had just returned from Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 8. He was a quiet young man and a popular member of the Company who had a great confidence and a maturity about him for someone so young. He was extremely experienced from his tour of Afghanistan  having served with 9 Platoon Ranger Company in Sangin in 2008 and was always ready share his experience throughout the Company on return. "Nothing was a chore to Ranger McCormick and he was always keen to help out; whether it be for a duty or to take a place on a patrol. He leaned in to every task put to him with professionalism and a sense of humour. "The death of Ranger McCormick is intensely sad and will be felt Battalion wide. He will be remembered by all and is testament to both A Company's motto 'Spectamur Agendo' (Judge us by our deeds) and the Regimental motto 'Faugh A Ballagh' (Clear the Way). Thoughts go out from the Battlegroup and we are thinking of his family and girlfriend during this testing time." WO2 William Roy, Company Sergeant Major, A Company, 1 R IRISH, said: "I first met Ranger Aaron McCormick in May 2010 as the Company were undergoing pre-deployment training for this deployment . Ranger McCormick had been away attending an assault pioneer course and his return was the first opportunity I had to get to know this promising young soldier. Despite his young age, he demonstrated a maturity beyond his 22 years and this was commented upon by the instructors at the School of Engineering. He was able to utilise these pioneer skills to enhance the remainder of the Company pre-deployment training. "His enthusiasm and dedication for his chosen profession earmarked him for the job of point Vallon man. As such he was responsible for clearing a safe route on patrol for his fellow soldiers, a responsibility he readily accepted. It was during the conduct of these duties that Ranger McCormick tragically fell in action on the morning of 14th November 2010. "The death of Ranger Aaron McCormick leaves a massive void within the Company; the courage he displayed on patrol on a daily basis is an example to us all. He was a credit to both his family and his home town of Coleraine. He will be sorely missed by all who met him and A Company is the better for having known this remarkable young man." Lance Corporal Christopher Griffiths and Rgr Stephen McEntaggart who served alongside Rgr McCormick in A Company, 1 R IRISH, said: "Words cannot describe him - you have to have known him. Good soldier and great friend, he will be a huge loss to A Company. He will be truly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. 'Spectamur Agendo'." LCpl William Hull, who served alongside Rgr McCormick in A Company, 1 R IRISH, said: "I had the honour of knowing Ranger Aaron McCormick and working with him since I arrived in A Company. Me, Aaron and Ranger Graham were told to attend the assault pioneer course and Aaron was looking forward to it. It was something he told me that he always wanted to do and when we went down to the course and you could tell that he wanted to do well. As the course went on, Aaron stood out and he was always stepping to the front to go first on all the tasks. The instructors could tell that he was keen and he was popular among all the people on the course. I will not only remember the good times we had at work, we also had some good nights out that were very memorable. He finished very high on the course and was a credit to all of us in the R IRISH. All my thoughts go out to you, his family and partner at this darkest of times. "Rest In peace mate, you will never be forgotten." Rgr David Callaghan who served alongside Rgr McCormick in A Company, 1 R IRISH, said: "We were in the same section in Kenya for some of our training, and had good times in the desert. In camp we both watched every Star Trek film from the first one to most recent one, even though he preferred Star Wars he would always be willing to watch 'Trek for us! Last time I saw him was in Check Point TANOOR and he had just received fiive parcels. He was ecstatic and showed me pictures of his family and girlfriend, Becky. Aaron was a great friend and someone I could always rely on. He will be greatly missed by all of his friends and family and will never be forgotten." Rgr Daniel Jackson, who served alongside Rgr McCormick in A Company, 1 R IRISH, said: "Aaron went by many names, but to his friends he was 'Jedi'. He was a great friend who will be missed by all close to him. He was always around for you if you had any problems (as long as you provided mug and brew). I, along with his family and friends, will never forget Aaron. My thoughts are with his friends and family." Rgr Neil McClory, who served alongside Rgr McCormick in A Company, 1 R IRISH, said: "I first met Aaron on the first Sunday I arrived at the Battalion in 2008. He had just returned from his leave after his first deployment to Afghanistan, and instantly made all of us new lads feel welcome.  "Over the last two years we have had many good times together, whether it was spending a weekend in camp or heading out to the town and cities around Tern Hill. He will always be remembered within the Company as 'the Jedi' for his love of Star Wars films. "He will be remembered by all of the Company as a close friend that would always stop and take the time to talk to you. He will be sorely  missed by everyone who knew him and I know everyone in the Company is thinking of his family and girlfriend back home during this difficult time. "Rest in peace." Rgr Ian McKergan, who served alongside Rgr McCormick in A Company, 1 R IRISH, said: "I had the privilege of working with Ranger Aaron McCormick in everything he did throughout his army career. He was a good and determined soldier and these qualities showed from a very early stage in basic training which we completed together. His first thought was always about the remainder of the troops and if they were happy he was happy; and this made him a model Rangers' Ranger. "This was not his first tour of Afghanistan, on 25th March 2008 Ranger McCormick and I deployed as part of 9 Platoon Ranger Company. We were the two junior Rangers within this platoon and it didn't take long for Aaron's qualities as a lead Vallon man to shine as he took the whole responsibility of clearing the safe lane solely upon his shoulders. He was the best man for this job and I always felt safe in the knowledge that he cleared the way. "Rest in peace mate." Rgr Thomas Smyth, who served alongside Rgr McCormick in A Company, 1 R IRISH, said: "Aaron was a close friend and it was a privilege to know him and share a room with him. I will never forget his humour and remember his bed-space at Tern Hill being surrounded with pictures of his family and friends. He will be missed by all who knew him and will be fondly remembered." The soldiers who served alongside Rgr McCormick in Checkpoint TANOOR said: "It was a great shock and with great sadness we had to say goodbye to a great friend and colleague. He was a real friend, always professional and a great soldier. He died ensuring the safety of his fellow Rangers. Our hearts go out to his family and friends, their sense of loss must be unimaginable. Mac was a respected and integral part of our call-sign. He will be missed and never forgotten. "May we continue the fight to ensure his death was not in vain and his memory, through us, will live forever as we remember him as a true Irish Ranger and a hero in all our minds."