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  • Christina Drummond

Warrant Officer Class 2 Lee Hopkins, Royal Corps of Signals; Staff Sergeant Sharron Elliott, Intell

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2006, Warrant Officer Class 2 Lee Hopkins, Royal Corps of Signals, Staff Sergeant Sharron Elliott, Intelligence Corps, Corporal Ben Nowak, 45 Commando Royal Marines, and Marine Jason Hylton, 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines, were killed in Iraq. They died in an IED explosion on the eastern edge of Basra City while on a routine boat patrol travelling towards a British Army base on the river. WO2 Hopkins had served in Northern Ireland, Kosovo as well as Iraq. He is remembered as an outstandingly professional soldier, with a strong character, wicked sense of humour, infectious enthusiasm and the ability to thrive on challenge. A colleague said he worked tirelessly for his soldiers, earned respect for his leadership and dedication, and lead from the front with a quiet authority. Lee, from Wellingborough, was 35 years old, married with a three-year-old son. Corporal Nowak joined the Royal Marines at the age of 17, served as a Rifleman and then as Section Second-in-Command at the Fleet Protection Group, during which time he deployed to the Northern Arabian Gulf as part of the Fleet Standby Rifle Troop. In 2003 he became a Physical Training Instructor, was promoted to Corporal, and instructed recruits for two years. He was then attached to 539 Assault Squadron and flew into theatre a few days before his death. He is remembered as being outgoing and gregarious with a keen sense of humour, well-liked, capable and committed. Ben, from Liverpool, was 27 years old. Staff Sergeant Elliott first qualified as an army aircraft technician. She then served with the Intelligence Corps in Germany, Belize, Northern Ireland and Kosovo. She deployed to Iraq to fill a temporary post but volunteered to serve a full tour. Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Park said: “Dedicated and professional, Staff Sergeant Elliott was an inspiration. She took it upon herself to assist the unit's less experienced members, set the highest of standards, and encouraged those around her to strive for the very best. She was a dedicated instructor, exacting in what she expected, always prepared to assist students to develop their full potential.” Sharron, from Ipswich, was 34 years old. Marine Hylton joined the Royal Marines at the age of 30 and joined 42 Commando as a rifleman. Major Nathan Hale said: “Marine Hylton was a bright and enthusiastic man who, although joining the Royal Marines older than most recruits, quickly made his mark. As a specialist in the Landing Craft Branch, his ability and professionalism belied his experience. An intelligent man, he adapted exceptionally well to his duties with a level of aptitude far in excess of his peers. We will best remember him for his infectious smile and the constant cheerfulness that he brought to the Squadron, particularly during the preparations for the Boat Group’s deployment to Iraq. He has epitomised the true Commando Spirit throughout his time with the Squadron and the early deployment to Iraq." Jason, from Burton-on-Trent, was 33 years old and left behind two young sons.

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