Suicide-blast soldier named
A British soldier killed in a suicide blast while on patrol in Afghanistan has been named as Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Ian Michael Fisher from The 3rd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Staffords).
WO2 Fisher, 42, who worked as a Sergeant Major for a company of Warrior fighting vehicles, died from an explosion during a vehicle-borne suicide attack.
The Ministry of Defence said he was killed on the final day of a two-day operation to disrupt insurgent activity in the vicinity of Kamparak, 25 miles north east of the provincial capital Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province.
During a meeting with Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), his vehicle was struck by what was described as a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.
WO2 Fisher was evacuated by air to the military hospital at Camp Bastion, where it was confirmed that he had been killed in action.
The death takes to 446 the number of UK service members who have lost their lives since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001 and is the eighth this year.
The 42-year-old physics and geology graduate, who was born in Barking in Essex, joined the Territorial Army in February 1993 with B Company, 3 Staffords, based in Stoke-on-Trent.
After completing his degree at Staffordshire University, and following three and a half years' service as a reservist Lance Corporal, he volunteered to go to Hong Kong in August 1996 as a Regular Private with B Company, 1st Battalion The Staffordshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's).
He completed four previous operational tours from 1999 - once to Northern Ireland, twice to Iraq and a previous tour of Afghanistan in 2011.
WO2 Fisher leaves his wife, Emma, two sons, James, seven, and William, five, and his parents, Simon and Helen.
Paying tribute, Emma said: "Ian will always be the centre of my life, he will be remembered as a doting father, loving husband and a true professional soldier.
"He loved being a soldier, that's what he lived for. We are all so proud and always will be."
The MoD said WO2 Fisher's colleagues described him as "the epitome of an Infantry Sergeant Major, straight talking and obsessive in his pursuit of excellence and gaining the most from his subordinates while ensuring their wellbeing".
Lieutenant Colonel Chris Davies, Commanding Officer, The 3rd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Staffords) said: "To lose a soldier in combat is a tragedy that hits any unit hard but to lose a warrant officer of WO2 Ian Fisher's calibre and standing in such a tight knit family regiment is a huge blow that has left the whole battalion numb.
"Qualified in both light role and armoured iInfantry, it was his expertise on Warrior fighting vehicles that set WO2 Fisher apart from his peers and for which he was widely respected as one of the best of his generation across the Army.
"His reputation as a tough-talking, no-nonsense sergeant major belied his quick wit and mischievous sense of humour and his men loved him for it.
"A larger-than-life character, he played a pivotal role in battalion life, always at the forefront where there was fun to be had.
"His nickname of 'the Colonel' epitomised him. He was the consummate professional, never happier than when leading from the front and making things happen. Hugely popular, he is already sorely missed.
"Our thoughts are with his wife Emma, two sons James and William and his parents Helen and Simon at this most difficult of times."
Lieutenant Colonel James Roddis, Commanding Officer, The Highlanders, 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, Manoeuvre Battlegroup, said: "We will remember WO2 Fisher as an exceptional man, soldier and leader.
"4 Scots knew him well, having served with him both in Canada last year and now in Afghanistan.
"An archetypal sergeant major, he inspired those around him with his confidence and professionalism. No matter what the situation, Sergeant Major Fisher's composure was catching and he had a calming influence on all those he served with.
"As the Warrior Sergeant Major, he was a pivotal company figure, he was the Commander's right hand man and his trusted friend - his advice was regularly sought and relied upon.
"He cared deeply for all in the Company and, in turn, they looked up to and respected him. He is a huge loss.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this most difficult of times. Our hurt is nothing compared to their grief but if it is any small consolation he will be sorely missed."
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "It is with great sadness that I learned of the death of Warrant Officer Class 2 Ian Fisher.
"It is clear from the tributes from his colleagues that he was an exemplary soldier who made a huge contribution to the Army over many years, on a number of operational tours.
"My thoughts and deepest condolences are with his family and friends."