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  • Christina Drummond

Major Matthew Collins and Lance Sergeant Mark Burgan, 1st Battalion Irish Guards.

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2011 Major Matthew Collins and Lance Sergeant Mark Burgan, 1st Battalion Irish Guards, were killed in Afghanistan when they were caught in the blast of an IED in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand. Major Collins commissioned into the Irish Guards in 1996, serving in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Northern Ireland and Iraq as well as Afghanistan. He was Company Commander of Number 3 Company and had deployed as Commander of the Advisory Team to the 3rd Kandak of the UK’s partnered Afghan Brigade.

His Second in Command said: “Major Collins was an exceptional officer. He was passionate in temperament, and about his job and his men, his experience and wisdom were enormous and worthy of huge respect. As a soldier he was tough and uncompromising, insisting on high standards from himself and those he worked with, and known for his excellent tactical sense and calm approach to even the hardest situations. He espoused the Company values - Loyalty, Excellence and Fortitude. As a commander and friend, Matt was fiercely loyal, he was smart, fit, dependable, intelligent and utterly gentlemanly. I count it an honour to have served as his Second in Command.” Matthew, from Backwell in Somerset, was 38 years old and married with two children.

Lance Sergeant Burgan joined the Irish Guards in 1999, and served on operations in Northern Ireland, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He joined the Battalion Signals Platoon, becoming a Signals Detachment Commander. He is remembered by comrades as an extremely talented and loyal man. The Company Second in Command said: “Lance Sergeant Burgan was recently graded as the best Lance Sergeant in Number 3 Company, and for good reason. He was the quintessential NCO - totally professional and excellent at his job, smart and with extremely high personal standards, with a bright and engaging character.

Lance Sergeant Burgan was a hugely capable soldier, Signals Detachment Commander and junior commander. He was passionately loyal to his friends and family, a big-hearted and tactile man who could talk to anyone with great empathy and kindness. Many times during this operational tour he showed himself to be cool under fire, capable of clear and well executed command, and dependable in all circumstances. His passing has left an enormous hole in his Company, and his warmth and character will be sorely missed.” Mark, from Liverpool, was 28 years old and married.

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