Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2008, Private Joe Whittaker, 4th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, was killed when a mine exploded in the Upper Sangin Valley in Afghanistan.
He had been a member of the Cadet Force at school, and on leaving school he joined 67 Signal Squadron, then 37 Signal Regiment in 2005, and on completion of his basic training he transferred to the Parachute Regiment October of 2007. The following year he volunteered to serve in Afghanistan. Private Whittaker passed Officer Selection and his intention was to attend the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst when he returned home from Afghanistan. He had his heart set on becoming an Apache pilot. He is remembered as enthusiastic, astonishingly fit, of high intellect and good character – and with what was described as “a wicked sense of humour.”
Lieutenant Colonel Ben Baldwin said of him: "Pte Joe Whittaker was 19 years of age when he passed P-Company, allowing him the honour of wearing the maroon beret. Joe had that infectious optimism that goes with all young Paratroopers. Forthright and courageous, he showed great spirit and committed himself wholeheartedly in any task given to him. His slim build belied strength beyond his years. Afghanistan was his first operational tour, and he showed no fear when chosen to be part of the Op BARMA team, a job fraught with danger. In fact, Joe relished the chance to be out on the ground and prove himself to his more experienced comrades. Joe Whittaker died a paratrooper. Even at such a young age he displayed all of the attributes specific to men of The Regiment, and we are proud to have known him and to have stood alongside him. Today, a good soul has left us, and he will be greatly missed. We, his brothers who are left, will never forget him."
Joe, from Stratford, was 20 years old.