Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Bomb disposal hero 'was impatient'

Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid was posthumously awarded the George Cross gallantry award

A bomb disposal hero was killed in an Afghanistan blast as he rushed to get his deadly job done after his stepson told him: "Daddy, time to come home".

Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid appeared "impatient" and "frustrated" following a poignant phone call with five-year-old Laird on the eve of his death, an inquest heard.

The 30-year-old, who was posthumously awarded the George Cross for disarming 64 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in five months, was "not his usual jovial self", comrades said.

Angered by delays, he told one fellow soldier to "hurry up" in the hours before he died attempting to disarm his third set of IEDs that day.

Lance Corporal Gary Parsons fought back tears as he recalled the incident. "It was as though he had set himself a timeframe to complete the tasks," L/Cpl Parsons told the hearing in Truro, Cornwall. "We do not set timeframes."

Other comrades paid tribute to their "inspirational" leader but said S/Sgt Schmid had seemed under pressure and had made "some sort of comment about speeding up".

Corporal Thomas Stace said S/Sgt Schmid, of the Royal Logistic Corps, had been "somewhat impatient" on October 31, 2009. But he clarified the pressure was not imposed by Army chiefs.

"I think he was under pressure to deal with them all and that it was a self-imposed pressure," Cpl Stace said in written evidence to the hearing in Truro, Cornwall. Corporal Robert Nealey added: "He was not his usual jovial self. I put that down to last day jitters."

Sapper Craig Butterworth described the bomb disposal expert as "an inspiration to the team and a total professional". But describing the day of his death, Sapper Butterworth added: "It occurred to me that he was slightly rushed. I could only think that this was because it was his last day before going home for rest and recuperation." At one point, while pulling up a suspected IED wire with his hands, he turned to a comrade and said: "Don't look at me, you did not see this."

Cornwall Coroner Dr Emma Carlyon adjourned the hearing for a second day's evidence on Thursday.

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