Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Friday, May 30, 2003

Private Andrew Kelly, of the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, aged 18 is the youngest soldier to be killed in Iraq.

He was posted to Iraq just days after his 18th birthday, but became the youngest casualty when he died as the result of a shooting accident on May 6.

While Westcountry forces continued to return from Iraq yesterday, Andrew's father Rob Kelly paid an emotional tribute to the son he remembers as a "real young gentleman".

Just hours before he learned of his son Andrew's death, Mr Kelly had received what was to be the last letter sent by the teenager.

"In that last letter I could feel his excitement. He was asking me to get his gran, uncle and step-sister to write to him," said Mr Kelly, who has another son, aged ten, and a daughter, 27.

"I went straight over to the post office to get the blueys - the letters which are sent to the forces - but when I came back, my ex-wife rang to tell me Andrew had died. I didn't know where to put myself."

Mr Kelly, from Saltash, served in the Royal Navy for 24 years and is a veteran of the Falklands war. He now owns a restaurant and two takeaways in Callington, South East Cornwall.

He used to own two food businesses in Saltash, but sold them.

Recalling how Andrew had set out for Iraq full of the excitement of a young soldier out on his first deployment, Mr Kelly said: "He worked so hard to get his wings. There couldn't be a prouder Paratrooper.

"He wanted to get in the SAS and he would have made it. He had already proved himself to be one of the best.

"Andrew phoned me up the day before he went to Iraq and we talked about him going away. I told him what my father told me: 'Use your training, listen to your superiors and don't be a hero - use your common sense and do your duty'.

"I told him he would be a changed person when he came back."

< email | 5/30/2003 10:35:00 AM | link

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