Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 2011, Rifleman Sheldon Lee Jordan Steel, 5th Battalion, the Rifles, was killed in Afghanistan. He had been on foot patrol when he was caught up in an IED explosion, and although airlifted to hospital at Camp Bastion, could not be saved.
Rifleman Steel had joined the army in November of 2009 and loved his job, having wanted to join up since being with the army cadets. He showed early promise during training, where he was quick to learn, intelligent, mature and ambitious. Rifleman Steel excelled on the sharpshooters’ course, proving himself to be focused, calm and professional. A superior officer said that he was “destined for the Corporals’ Mess” following his time in Afghanistan, due to his diligence, hard work and dedication.
Lieutenant Colonel Tom Copinger-Symes said of him: Rifleman Steel was the essence of a ‘Delta Dog’, as the members of D Company, 5 RIFLES, are known…the Delta Dogs have a particularly special identity in our battalion and Rifleman Steel was immensely proud of that identity. And so he should have been, because he was, and will remain until next year, the ‘Top Dog’ - the winner of D Company’s annual competition to find their best Rifleman. Rifleman Steel won this accolade in the last few weeks before deploying to Helmand in an arduous and hard-fought contest that fully stretched the Riflemen’s mental and physical capacities. As a result he was afforded the honour of sitting at the centre of the top table at the formal ‘Dog’s Dinner’ - a full-on regimental dinner for all members of the company, surrounded with regimental silver from the Officers’ and Serjeants’ Messes and entertained by the battalion’s buglers. None of us will ever forget his humble and self-effacing delight that night, mingled with a touch of embarrassment, at finding himself at the centre of such attention. He truly was a special blend of physical robustness, sharp intellect, old-fashioned politeness, and natural leadership flair - all underscored by a quiet confidence and understated ambition.”
Sheldon, from Leeds, was 20 years old.