Tributes paid to 'extraordinary soldier'

A Cromer family is mourning the death of their soldier son in an explosion while on duty in Afghanistan.Cpl Stephen Bolger was killed in action on operations in Helmand province on Saturday morning.

A Cromer family is mourning the death of their soldier son in an explosion while on duty in Afghanistan.

Cpl Stephen Bolger was killed in action on operations in Helmand province on Saturday morning.

His father Mike, a businessman in the Cromer area, is well-known for his community work as a former member of the town council where he rose to the rank of deputy mayor, as well as being chairman of governors at Northrepps primary school, and a former president of the Cromer and Sheringham Rotary club.

Cpl Bolger was a member of the 1st Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, but was part of a special forces support unit.


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He joined the Army in 1998 and his other deployments included Sierra Leone and supporting the Royal Ulster Constabulary during the summer marching season in Northern Ireland.

He died alongside L/Cpl Nigel Moffett from Belfast, who was serving with the Light Dragoons, based at Swanton Morley in Norfolk.

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The deaths took the number of British service personnel who have died in Afghanistan since the start of operations in October 2001 to 165.

Defence secretary John Hutton said the pair 'paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan, protecting the security of our nation.

'The comments of their comrades make clear that these two young men were soldiers of unusual determination and ability. This is a terribly sad loss for the armed forces, and I can only express my deepest sympathy to their grieving families.'

Cpl Bolger's commanding officer, whose identity has been kept secret because of the sensitive role of his unit, said: 'Stephen was, quite simply, an extraordinary man doing an extraordinary job.

'He embodied a life based on service to others, duty and self-sacrifice - the life of a soldier. He chose this life and lived it with a passion; he died prematurely, but he died doing what he loved.'

The soldier's family said in a statement: 'Stephen was a wonderful first born son, brother to two and friend to many; he was dearly loved and will be sorely missed. Stephen was always happy, caring and generous and we are sure that those fortunate enough to have known him will share in the loss we are now feeling.

'We can take some comfort knowing that he died amongst friends, doing something he loved and believed in. We are all immensely proud of him.'

Cromer mayor Hilary Thompson said: 'We give our condolences to his family and to the family of the other young lad. It's very difficult to express into words how you feel about something like this. We are all aware that every young man over there is somebody's son, but when it comes to your own home town it's far more poignant.

'Our lives go on but theirs is totally shattered. We offer our deepest sympathy to the family.'

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