Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2009, Acting Serjeant* Stuart McGrath, 2nd Battalion, The Rifles, was killed in Afghanistan. He had been on foot patrol in Gereshk district, Helmand province, when he was caught up in an explosion and died before he could be taken to hospital.
At the age of thirteen he had joined the Air Training Corps with which he spent four years; he had wanted the experience although had already decided on an army career. He joined the army in 1999, completed a Junior Non-Commissioned Officer cadre in 2001, and put himself forward to attend the Platoon Serjeants’ Battle Course following his tour in Afghanistan. He is remembered as a bright, determined and fearless soldier, a one-off character who could be both hard and funny depending on the occasion, and one who continued to push himself relentlessly. He had his sights set on the SAS once he had achieved Rifle Platoon Serjeant. *(correct spelling).
Major Sam Plant said: "Serjeant McGrath was an exceptional soldier in all respects. His performance under extreme pressure on Op HERRICK 10 had been first class. His task was to provide patrols in the area of FOB Keenan with indirect mortar fire support and this he did with enormous professionalism and enthusiasm - what Mac did not know about mortars was not worth knowing. He commanded his close-knit team with an abundance of flair and imagination, always putting his men first and leading from the front at every opportunity. Mac displayed a real zest for life beyond the business of soldiering. His love of life, humour and sense of fun pervaded all that he did and this rubbed off on those that had the privilege of working with him. His contribution to the morale of the small, isolated FOB Keenan team was immense and when there was fun and laughter, Mac was never far away."
Stuart, from Buckinghamshire, was 28 years old and married with three sons and a baby daughter.