Paul Joszko together with Scott Kennedy and James Kerr (both of the Black Watch) were tragically killed in a Basra Roadside Bomb attack on Thursday, 28th June 2007 when they had dismounted from a Warrior armoured vehicle in the Al Amtaiya district of Basra City. A fourth soldier was badly wounded.
Paul Joszko, aged 28 from Mountain Ash, Wales, was a Corporal in the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh (The Royal Regiment of Wales),
Lieutenant Colonel James Swift MBE, Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh paid the following tribute to him:
"The death of any soldier, whether on operations or by accident is a tragic loss, but when three young men are killed in the same incident it amplifies the impact. Yesterday Corporal Paul Joszko, aged 28, from Mountain Ash in Wales, and two of his soldiers were killed by an insurgent's explosive device in the Mutashfa district of Basra. They were all professional soldiers doing their duty in the dangerous conditions that pervade in Iraq. They will be very sorely missed.
"Paul's company, B (Rorke's Drift) Company of the 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh, was assisting with the security for the move of a sustainment convoy from Basra Palace to the main British base in southern Iraq. These convoys are essential to maintain the force and they are by their very nature large and ponderous. Thus they require protection in depth and B Company was clearing the route ahead of the convoy when the bomb struck. Paul had dismounted with his men, leading from the front as normal. He was killed instantly.
"Paul was an excellent soldier; he was amongst the best of his generation. He was particularly strong in the field even as a private soldier, and he passed the Section Commanders Battle Course with ease. He had recently returned from training recruits in Catterick and was a very strong contender for promotion to sergeant. He had a cheerful, warm character and was loved by his men and respected by all those he met. He always looked scruffy, had a cheeky smile and a cigarette in his hand, but he never failed to deliver the goods.
"He had a wicked sense of humour and was always in the heart of any practical jokes. He was doggedly loyal, acutely professional and led his men firmly but also with style and enormous compassion. There was nothing complicated about him; he loved soldiering, looked after his men, and led by example. Being such a character and future star he was very well known across the Battalion and throughout his Battle Group in Iraq, 4th Battalion The Rifles, and he leaves behind a huge hole.
"Whilst in Iraq, Paul played a full part in the Company's tasks. He has successfully provided security for several sustainment convoys, he has been part of the cordon for strike operations, and he has helped to defend his base in the heart of Basra. On all these tasks he has been outstanding. He led his section superbly and they were always ready for what was asked of them.
"He anticipated both their needs and the intent of his superiors. His subordinates looked up to him, his peers sought his advice and his superiors respected his knowledge, professionalism and determination; they all liked him. He was a truly excellent Junior Non-Commissioned Officer; if only all soldiers were as good as he was and such a genuine pleasure to know.
"We were very lucky to share in Paul's life, his energy, his dynamism and his positive spirit, but at this terrible time our thoughts and prayers are with his family, especially his parents Linda and David and his sister Maria. Tragically his son Dylan is nearly 11 months old, and his girlfriend Kayleigh is carrying their second child. Paul was a loving son and was, I am sure, an exceptional partner and father. He loved his job and he died serving his country. We are all devastated by his death and will miss him enormously.
Corporal Joszko's Company Commander, Major Steve Webb, said:
"Corporal Paul David Joszko, 'Josk', was one of the most professional soldiers and junior commanders I have had the privilege of serving with. He had a dedication to his role both as a soldier and as a leader of men that inspired confidence and he was deeply respected throughout the Company. It was this dedication that motivated him to volunteer to deploy early to Iraq in order that he could gain a deeper understanding of operations in time for the Company's deployment. He loved his job and was the epitome of what a Section Commander should be.
"It is difficult to fully understand the 'X' factor that Corporal Joszko brought to his Platoon and the Company. He was part of the glue that bonds any tight-knit organisation together, right at the heart of all things good, whether it be adapting and learning new skills or simply providing a positive outlook in difficult situations. He was a soldier's soldier. There was no 'other' side to him and he was acutely aware of the privilege of command and the burden of responsibility that came with it.
"He welcomed new soldiers into his platoon and ensured that they were fully integrated. It was because of this that he took it upon himself to train all new soldiers into theatre to make sure that they were prepared to deploy onto the streets. This training, as with all things he did, was calm, assured and infused confidence in those around him. He was also always cheerful and constructive. He was just like that. He didn't complain or whinge, he adapted and overcame, always bringing those for whom he bore responsibility with him. He coupled all this with a great sense of humour. He was genuinely funny with plenty of practical jokes – and yet it was always done in a positive, constructive way.
"Paul Joszko was also a family man, deeply committed to his girlfriend and son and keenly anticipating the next arrival to the Joszko clan. He often spoke of how much he was looking forward to the birth of his second child and he was clearly besotted with the family he already has.
"Corporal Paul Joszko was a valued member of his platoon and the Company. In addition to losing a fine soldier, the Company has lost one of the most genuine, honest and affable people I have met. His loss is tragic and deeply felt."
His Company Sergeant-Major, Mark Kretzschmar, said:
"Corporal Joszko was truly an outstanding soldier and Junior Non-Commissioned Officer. He always led from the front and was everything you would look for in a Junior Commander. He had few airs and graces and what you saw was what you got. He was loved and respected by all those who served with him. I had the honour to serve with him as a Platoon Sergeant and Company Sergeant-Major and you would not want a better man by your side."
Captain Ed Wilcox, a former platoon commander, said:
"Paul was a streetwise and robust individual who genuinely enjoyed infantry soldiering in its most low-level form. Soldiering for him was all bund lines and fire positions; the Warrior Platoon really just being the means of delivery for him and his Section. He was a Warrior driver once upon a time but was loathe to admit it, as if that knowledge somehow diluted his dismounted expertise. He was at his happiest on exercise in Canada I think; endless Section attacks and a month of the camaraderie of his Section in the back of the Warrior. He was a talented soldier who led by example – and who was very happy when posted to depot to have the opportunity to train the next generation of dismounts in his own mould."
Private Rhys Thomas said:
"A professional team commander and also one of the boys. All the boys respected him and he always looked after the younger lads when they needed help."
Lance-Corporal John 'Jock' Fowler (3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, attached to 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh) said:
"His communication skills were second to none. He was a favourite among the boys from 6 Platoon not just because he was a magic ambassador for his Regiment but also because he was just very funny. My thoughts are with his girlfriend, son and family."
Lance-Corporal Michael 'Patsy' Palmer said:
"He always had such a positive attitude. He was a friend, brother and father to me when I first joined the Battalion."