On New Year’s Day, Thursday, 1st January 2009, Chris Reed was killed by an improvised explosive device whilst conducting a vehicle patrol alongside the ANA in the desert of of the Garmsir district of Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Chris Reed was a Sergeant serving with 6th Battalion (TA), The Rifles. Sergeant Reed was attached to C Company of the 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES) Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) Battle Group and was Second in Command of his team of 8 Riflemen working alongside their Afghan National Army (ANA) counterparts. The OMLTs assist and teach the ANA in all aspects of military operations.
Sergeant Christopher John Reed was a Territorial Army (TA) soldier from Plymouth, who in his civilian career built luxury super-yachts. Although only 25 years of age, he was a highly experienced Territorial soldier, having joined the Rifle Volunteers in his beloved Plymouth in 2001.
He completed a busy and testing operational tour of Iraq with the Battalion in 2005. In early 2008 he passed the tough and demanding Platoon Sergeants’ Battle Course at the Infantry Battle School in Brecon, earning praise from the instructing staff for his ability and obvious leadership skills. He was an incredibly capable, intelligent and loyal Rifleman who was both popular and very well respected by all those who served alongside him.
As a TA volunteer, or S.W.A.T. soldier ('Some Weekends And Tuesdays' as 'Reedy' would put it) he dedicated much of his spare time to the Army getting involved where and whenever he could, always with a beaming smile on his face. He first volunteered to deploy to the Falkland Islands and quickly formed a very tight bond with his fellow Riflemen, and his many qualities became abundantly clear to his superiors.
The Regimental Sergeant Major for 1 RIFLES said after his first meeting with 'Reedy' that it would be his "main effort to persuade him to become a full time Rifleman in my Battalion", a real testament to his character and competence.
He had made a strong impression on the tour dealing with the challenges he and his team faced with energy and humour. During a recent fire fight, his Team Commander and three ANA soldiers were injured by shrapnel from a rocket propelled grenade blast. Without pause, Chris took control of the situation, overseeing the evacuation of the casualties and then continuing with the patrol.
His Company Commander, Major Andy Watkins said of him, "Sergeant Chris Reed was one of those individuals who saw the best in everything and this outlook was infectious. His team was richer for him."
His relaxed but professional manner never failed to bring out the best qualities in those around him. He took the time to form an excellent working relationship with his ANA colleagues; one of his peers Sergeant Leon Upton noted: "Reedy was conscientious and enthusiastic, taking the time to understand what made the Afghan soldier tick and they really responded to him as a result."
'Reedy' was born and bred in Plymouth and could always be heard talking about home, “The Muff”, with many of the Riflemen he had grown up with. Sergeant Chris Reed was due to marry his fiancée Heather on return from Afghanistan and the number of “Blueys” passing through the post bag between Reedy and Heather was a constant source of wonder to his fellow Riflemen.
He will be sorely missed by all members of The Rifles, especially the 1st and 6th Battalions, and his team. Our thoughts are with all those who were close to him and whom he left behind. Once a Rifleman always a Rifleman, SWIFT AND BOLD.
Sgt Reed's family, friends and colleagues have paid the following tributes:
Brian and Joy Reed, Sergeant Christopher Reed’s parents:
"Christopher was in the Territorial Army and doing a job he believed in. He did that job with pride and honour and with people he respected. He was selected to train the Afghanistan National Army and worked in a Forward Operating Base. He believed he was making a difference.
"Christopher became engaged to Heather on the day he left for Afghanistan and was planning on a wedding when he got home. He touched the hearts of all he came into contact with. Christopher will be sadly missed by his mother, father and brother Andrew, his fiancée Heather, all of his family and friends and all who knew him.
"We are very proud of what he has achieved and what he was trying to achieve."
Lieutenant Colonel Joe Cavanagh, Commanding Officer OMLT (1 RIFLES) Battlegroup:
"Sergeant Chris Reed was one of a very few 6 RIFLES Riflemen serving alongside his 1 RIFLES colleagues in the demanding OMLT role. That he was so successful is testament to his notable talent and dedication.
"Chris was assured in his dealings with the Afghan National Army – deftly applying the wider skills and experience he picked up in his civilian career – and also a great leader of his Riflemen in the most dangerous of circumstances. He was much admired for his professionalism and enthusiasm.
"On our most recent visit to his Patrol Base the Regimental Sergeant Major and I were greeted by Chris warmly before being treated to a confident, perceptive, incisive and memorable brief of his OMLT team’s experiences and requirements – typical of the man.
"He represented and commanded his team of Riflemen superbly; we are all very proud to have served alongside him."
Lieutenant Colonel Tom Mereweather, Commanding Officer 6 RIFLES:
"The death of Sergeant Christopher 'Reedy' Reed is a hammer blow to the Battalion. He was a talented, committed and highly professional Non Commissioned Officer who engendered trust and respect from all who came into contact with him. I regarded him as one of my very best Section Commanders. He was undoubtedly a Company Sergeant Major of the future.
"I last spoke with him during pre deployment training but my particular memory is visiting the Platoon Sergeant’s Course on which he was a student in February this year. It was typical Welsh winter weather: cold, windy and very wet. Reedy’s platoon was hidden in a wood and he appeared from the gloom, big smile lighting up his blackened face. Ever cheerful and enthusiastic despite being cold, tired and under pressure to produce a patrol plan, we discussed how he was doing and what the future might hold for him and the Battalion.
"Once mobilised I was not surprised to learn that he had been selected to join one of the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams with the 1st Battalion. His competence, previous military experience and natural easy going authority made him an obvious choice. A natural leader he relished the opportunity to train and mentor his Afghan Army colleagues.
"A wonderful West Country soldier - calm, modest, easy going but with a sense of purpose and obvious steel, he will be greatly missed. All ranks of the 6th Battalion are mourning the loss of a brother Rifleman."
Major Paul Miller OC Corunna Company, 6 RIFLES:
"I did not know Christopher Reed but I did know Sergeant Reed. The ever professional Rifleman, it was his dedication to the Territorial Army, his `can do` attitude, the everlasting smile and his loyalty to all those around him that he will be remembered for by all of Corunna Company.
"Throughout the company's Pre-deployment Training it was the high standards that the instructor Sergeant Reed expected and extracted from the riflemen that prepared Corunna Company so well for its up and coming operational tour; we will forever be in his debt. Ever thinking of his loved ones our thoughts are with his family and fiancée.
"Reedy we will all miss you."
Warrant Officer Class 1 Rod Poulter MC, Regimental Sergeant Major 1 RIFLES:
"Sergeant Chris Reed was a charismatic, diligent Senior Non Commissioned Officer who always put the Riflemen’s welfare before his own. Chris knew his team inside and out, not only as soldiers, he knew them as men. He displayed great, natural leadership – something obvious to me when I visited him recently in his Patrol Base in Garmsir; his team had the utmost confidence in him – just as I did.
"To say that he had a bright future is an understatement. Once a Rifleman, always a Rifleman. He will be remembered."
Rifleman Haron Onderi, serving in C Coy 1 RIFLES:
"For the days I have worked with 'Reedy', I have come to know him as a top bloke. A Non Commissioned Officer who is committed and works for everyone in the same way: right from the lowest Rifleman to the highest.
"Reedy, a kind bloke who is ever smiling made sure everybody else was on his list before himself. His leadership qualities were outstanding and this was clearly shown by him whilst fighting the Taliban, when the Boss had to leave ground because of his injuries, he took over. A boat maker by profession, he kept on saying how he loved both his civvy job and the Army as well."
Rifleman Marc Luscombe, 6 RIFLES:
"Since the time I first walked through the doors of Millbay TA Centre in Plymouth and Chris Reed (then Lance Corporal) was on his tour of Iraq, he had already built up a reputation as a knowledgeable, capable and professional soldier.
"He was a true 'Plymothian' putting in long hours with his civilian employment in the dockyard and then volunteering many hours preparing training for his TA platoon. When it came to pre-deployment training for Op HERRICK 9, Reedy (now Sergeant) carried on his fearsome reputation and because of his exceptional ability was chosen for attachment to the 1 RIFLES OMLT.
"Although after his attachment our paths were not to cross again I understand that Sjt Reed remained faultless at his work. A true soldier; a true friend. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him."
Rifleman Andrew Pooley, 6 RIFLES:
"Cheers mate! You were an inspiration to us all. Your drive, enthusiasm and humour for everything you tackled never failed to amaze me. All of us at Plymouth will strive to maintain the high standards you set us and maintained yourself, with such effortless charisma.
"You were the glue that held us all together and will always be in my thoughts. Take it easy Number One....!"
Colour Sergeant Nicholas Beresford, 6 RIFLES:
"I will always remember Chris as the most dependable, cheerful, enthusiastic, friendly, and professional man I have ever had the fortune to call my friend. He will be missed as a soldier by all those who were lucky enough to serve with him and as a friend lucky enough to laugh with him. See you again Chris!"
Rifleman Warren James, 6 RIFLES:
"I will always consider myself fortunate to have worked with Chris. Never before have I met anyone with the same level of professionalism, knowledge and astute sense of humour that Chris displayed. The world will be a much quieter and sadder place without him. Best of luck mate, we’ll miss you."
WO2 Deano Whitmarsh, 6 RIFLES:
"I first got to know Chris during build-up-training. He was an extremely popular and professional soldier with a great sense of humour, admired by everyone, always friendly and helpful."
Rifleman Alexander Regan, 6 RIFLES:
" 'Reedy' was one of the warmest and kindest men I have met and the most professional soldier I have seen. He will be greatly missed."
"He shone in every aspect of his life"
Rifleman Joseph Petrie, 6 RIFLES
Lance Corporal Kevin (Lucky) Luckett, 6 RIFLES:
"Chris was a good friend, a superb soldier and an example to others. I had some good laughs and jokes throughout training for Operation HERRICK. Chris loved his job; it is a big shame that he is no longer with us.
"It is a huge blow for those of us remaining as we have lost a friend and successful member of our team. It is the worst thing for any family to go through. My thoughts go out to them. I will miss you Chris."
Rifleman Joseph Petrie, 6 RIFLES:
"Chris was a great guy who had something special about him that everyone wanted to be a part of. He shone in every aspect of his life, both in the TA and in Civvy life. He was a good friend to everyone. Our hearts go out to his family. He will be deeply missed."
Lance Corporal Vaughan Condron, Riflemen Graham Allen and Adam Bugden, 6 RIFLES:
"Chris was beloved and respected by all who had the opportunity to work with him. He was universally known throughout the Battalion and beyond. Always keen and at his most professional, he brought out the best in those around him. He was not only a capable soldier but an irreplaceable friend both within the Army he loved and to his family and work friends.
"To those at 'D' Company his passing is a loss which will hit hard and will be difficult to get over. It is the utmost privilege of those left behind to have served with one of the Army’s finest NCOs."
Rifleman David Massey, 6 RIFLES:
"There aren’t enough words to describe Chris. Knowing him as a friend and colleague was a privilege to all who knew him. He was honest, down to earth and always there when you needed him, whether for help, advice or just a chat. His experience, knowledge and professionalism always astounded me for such a young guy.
"Full of life and always up for a beer with the lads at the end of a day’s work. I can honestly say on behalf of all who knew him that he will be missed but never forgotten."
Corporal Tony Friday, 6 RIFLES:
"Chris Reed was a good strong soldier, a very good leader to his men. Always cheerful and willing to help, Chris was admired by all who knew him and inspired confidence. It was a pleasure to have known him and to call him a friend. Chris died doing the job he loved."
Corporal Barry Crane, 6 RIFLES:
"I have known Chris for several years and classed him as a true friend and a good mate. I will truly miss him and remember the laughs and jokes we had together always."
Rifleman George Coffin, 6 RIFLES:
"Well, all I can say about Chris is he was one in a million. He would take time out to just say ‘hello’, just to check if you were OK. He will be sadly missed. He was a bloody good bloke and a top soldier."
Rifleman Charles Addison, 6 RIFLES:
"Chris was utterly professional as a soldier, but he was also good natured and down to earth. He would tell me off regularly for calling him ‘Corporal’.... insisting that we knew him as Chris; as always, he did this with a smile.
"Chris always led by example, you would find him sweeping out the locker room or doing other tasks that some seniors would see as menial.
"I will always remember him as a man quick to laugh and smile who would always go the extra mile so that you did not have to... Chris, you will NEVER be forgotten."