On Thursday, 27th November 2008 Georgie Sparks with Tony Evans and others had been conducting a foot patrol to the north-west of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province. Tony Evans and Georgie Sparks had moved on to the roof of a compound when, at around 0900 hours, there was an attack by insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades and they were badly wounded.
Both received immediate medical attention and were moved to a secure location before being put on a helicopter to be transferred back to Camp Bastion. However, both sadly died from their injuries during the flight.
Georgie Sparks was a Marine serving with 42 Commando, Royal Marines in J Company.
Marine Georgie Sparks, aged 19, was born in December 1988 and came from Epping is Essex. He joined the Royal Marines in June 2006 and passed out from training in July 2007, joining 42 Commando a few days later. During his time at 42 Commando he qualified as a sniper.
Georgie's parents, Mr Wayne Sparks and Mrs Toni Sparks, and his sister Miss Katie Sparks, paid the following tribute:
"We have lost our best friend as well as our son. We are deeply saddened and in mourning. We are so very proud of Georgie - he always wanted to be a Royal Marine. Georgie loved the outdoors - fishing, shooting, paintballing - and was very close to his family. We miss him so much."
Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Stickland Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:
"Marine Georgie Sparks was a quiet, understated professional. He lost his life fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with his comrades, covering their actions with his expert sniper skills. His loss has touched the entire Unit but no more so than the tight band of warriors that are the J Company 'Jesters'.
"A man to be relied on, a man who had found his place and a man at the peak of his game - Marine Sparks had found a profession he loved and in which he excelled. He never looked back from winning the Commando Medal in training - an award for one who demonstrates Commando spirit, tenacity and courage in adversity above all others, something he lived by to his dying day.
"The brotherhood of 42 Commando Royal Marines mourn him and remain resolute his loss will not be in vain. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones. The tributes from his colleagues say it all."
Major Reggie Turner Royal Marines, Officer Commanding J Company Group, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:
"Marine Georgie Sparks joined J Company in April. A personable, courteous and hard-working individual, his dedication and professionalism were obvious and it is these high standards which enabled him to qualify as a Sniper prior to deployment to Afghanistan.
"Although young, he demonstrated maturity beyond his years in the field and could be relied upon to tackle all tasks with characteristic enthusiasm and dedication. Naturally quiet, he had a dry sense of humour and was a popular member of 2 Troop.
"He lost his life whilst providing covering fire for his colleagues, selflessly putting himself at risk in order to help others. We will miss his confident but understated manner, his meticulous eye for detail and his evident passion for his specialisation.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Georgie's family and friends at this difficult time."
Lance Corporal Lee Smith – 2 Troop, J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:
"Georgie - one of us forever. He was, quite possibly, one of the neatest; always cleaning something. He was, and always will be, our Troop's 'Baby'. But don't believe for a second that counted against him. Wherever we were, whether on camp, in a compound, or on sentry, this man's smile could light up your darkest day.
"His life revolved around his two passions: his family and his shooting. He was the perfect soldier, the perfect friend. His hand was always up for any task, and he gave everything he had, and more. But the first place and last place he remains is in our hearts and in our minds forever."
"He was the perfect soldier, the perfect friend. His hand was always up for any task, and he gave everything he had, and more. But the first place and last place he remains is in our hearts and in our minds forever."
Marines Josh McGowan and Tom Ellis - J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:
"Georgie Sparks, or 'Sparky' to his mates, came across as a quiet individual but to his friends he was a 'hoofing' bloke with a cracking sense of humour.
"Strong-minded and very determined he showed these qualities on more than one occasion, usually during 'phys' (exercise) but most significantly when successfully completing the arduous RM Sniper course.
"Sparky was an honest lad, a true 'oppo' (mate), very polite and a genuine bloke, a unique individual and you will never come across another guy like Georgie. He will be dearly missed from all his friends in J Company."
Lance Corporal Chris Bedford, J Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:
"Georgie Sparks was one of the few lads that I regarded so highly as a very good young Marine and more importantly one of the best friends I could have known.
"Georgie (or one of the many abusive names we used to call him), told me once how many people told him he would never make it through training. But he proved everyone wrong, not only passing training but becoming a sniper, on his second attempt. He would have hated me for writing that last part!
"He lived in my room; we drank together, ate together and prepared our kit together. Also shooting a lot of rabbits with the rifles he kept at home. I will miss him, the lads will miss him and my thoughts are with his family."
Captain Orlando Rogers Royal Marines, OC Manoeuvre Support Group, 42 Commando Royal Marines, said:
"Marine Georgie Sparks was an immensely proud Royal Marine with an immeasurable passion for life and his chosen career. Out of all the recruits that I instructed, I remembered him the most - for he epitomized the qualities of a Royal Marine. Even in the depths of a freezing Dartmoor, he was always smiling, never giving less than 110 per cent, and with a constant desire to learn more.
"It was during his training I saw him for his true colours and what I saw was an incredibly determined, reliable and most of all selfless man - the type of Marine you would choose to be watching your back in a firefight. He died doing exactly that, putting himself in danger to keep his colleagues safe. When people ask me what instructing Marines was like, I recall Marine Sparks, and how proud I was to see him presented with his Green Beret in front of his family. I knew it meant the world to him to earn it, but it meant even more to him to see his family so happy and proud when he received it."