Body of Cornish serviceman killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash repatriated to the UK today (From Falmouth Packet)
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Body of Cornish serviceman killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash repatriated to the UK today
Updated 9:08am Tuesday 6th May 2014 in News
The body of a Cornish serviceman killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan will be repatriated to the UK today.
Corporal James "Bungle" Walters from Leedstown, of the Army Air Corps (AAC), was serving as one of the Lynx aircraft's three-man team alongside Captain Thomas Clarke and Warrant Officer Spencer Faulkner.
Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan of the Royal Air Force and Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas of the Intelligence Corps also died.
Their helicopter went down in Kandahar province, 30 miles from the border with Pakistan, on the morning of April 26.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has denied claims by the Taliban that insurgents shot the helicopter down, with initial investigations indicating a "tragic accident" rather than enemy action as the cause of the crash.
The five servicemen will be flown into RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire before a private ceremony takes place at the air base. The cortege will then pass the Memorial Garden in Carterton before heading to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
The MoD and the families of the five men paid tribute to them following their deaths.
Group Captain Richard Maddison, Station Commander at RAF Odiham, where all of five men except L/Cpl Thomas were based, said: "As with all losses of personnel in Afghanistan, we mourn the loss of our most capable and dedicated personnel, who served without complaint and in full understanding of the risks associated with their roles.
"They were fine ambassadors for their unit and for defence as a whole, and we shall not forget them."
Cpl Walters, 36, known as Bungle, was a "highly respected" junior non-commissioned officer who had deployed to Afghanistan on numerous occasions.
Regularly at the centre of any debate, especially when the subject involved rugby or Cornwall, the helicopter's gunner was known to be a "consummate professional".
The helicopter in which the men were travelling is believed to have been from AAC 657 Squadron, a top unit based at RAF Odiham which provides support and transport for special forces troops.
The aircraft went down in the Takhta Pul district of Kandahar, in what was the worst incident involving a British military helicopter in Afghanistan since the war began there in 2001.
The crash caused the third biggest single loss of life of British troops since the conflict in Afghanistan began and brought the total number of service personnel killed there to 453.
The incident equalled the previous worst disaster involving a British helicopter, when a Lynx aircraft crashed in Basra City, Iraq, in May 2006 killing the five service personnel on board.