On Wednesday, 25th February, 2009 Michael ‘Mick’ Laski passed away peacefully with his family beside him at Selly Oak Hospital. Despite displaying true Commando qualities to the very end, Michael died of the wounds he sustained in action on 23 February 2009 to the north of Sangin, Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Michael Laski was serving as a Marine with 45 Commando, Royal Marines.
On the morning of Monday 23 February 2009, Yankee Company was conducting a foot patrol to provide security to the local Afghan community when they were engaged by heavy and accurate enemy fire.
Caught in open ground during this initial exchange, Marine Michael Laski was struck by an enemy bullet whilst the patrol fought back to regain the initiative. In spite of every effort by his colleagues, and his own trademark determination, he never regained consciousness.
Michael Laski, 21, was born in Liverpool on 11 May 1987. After completing Royal Marines Commando recruit training in September 2006, he joined 45 Commando Royal Marines and immediately deployed with the unit on Operation HERRICK 5 to Afghanistan.
Returning to the unit in early 2008 after successfully completing his Royal Marines Signals Specialisation course, his dedication, enthusiasm and professionalism ensured that he immediately stood out from his peers.
The epitome of a Royal Marine, his desire to be right at the heart of Commando unit life manifested itself in his single-minded determination and desire to return to a close combat company. Confident in his abilities, his relentless drive and tenacity and the continual pestering of the Signal Troop Sergeant Major saw him joining Yankee Company in time for operations in the Upper Sangin Valley in Afghanistan on Operation HERRICK 9.
Marine Laski was a dependable, brave and selfless man. He loved his job, and was exceptionally good at it. His spirit and tenacity in the face of adversity and danger were unswerving and his sense of humour and love for life was apparent in everything he did.
He was an exceptional Commando, and he was blessed with a truly engaging personality that endeared him to all. Hugely popular within the company, his natural and infectious sense of humour always meant that he was at the centre of company banter.
Marine Laski was a ferociously loyal Royal Marine, dedicated to his friends and to the Corps, and that is how he will best be remembered. His loss will be felt deeply by all.
Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 45 Commando Group, said:
"Marine Mick Laski was a Royal Marine Commando through and through. Bright, quick-witted, incredibly determined and extremely brave he always sought out every opportunity to operate as close to the front line as possible.
"As a signaller in Yankee Company he was invariably on the shoulder of his Company Commander in the thick of the fighting ensuring communications whatever the circumstance. This was his second operational deployment to Afghanistan, and his commitment and bravery in the face of the enemy has been a continual example to us all.
"His loss is a heavy blow to Signals Troop and 45 Commando, and we will all miss his loyalty, humour and friendship. The whole of 45 Commando Group joins me in sending my deepest condolences to his father and brothers as they begin to come to terms with these devastating events."
Major Rich Parvin Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Yankee Company, 45 Commando Group, said:
"Marine Mick Laski was a signaller with Yankee Company Headquarters and as such I spent a great deal of time with him, both on patrol and in the operations room at FOB [Forward Operating Base] Inkerman. He was a sharp-witted and thoughtful individual with an active mind.
"His 'scouse' wit was always well-timed and he would often break the tension at moments of pressure with his dry sense of humour.
"Brave in combat and always ready to assist others in any task, he was all that a Royal Marine should be. Whether he was providing covering fire to get his comrades out of danger or maintaining communications for the company in his role as a signaller, he was always exactly where he was needed and getting things done.
"He was a professional in every sense and a Commando in the very best of traditions; a thinking man's soldier. He was mortally-wounded whilst fighting alongside his comrades, doing the job that he loved and thrived in, and set the standards for all around him to follow.
"His loss is a tragedy, but his life was a gift to all who knew him. He lived his life with a determination to always succeed against adversity, but he did this with humility, dignity and humanity. He will be an example for those of us that remain and his memory will galvanise our spirits in difficult times ahead. It was a privilege to serve alongside him. He is missed, but never forgotten."
Captain Mick Trafford Royal Marines, Signals Troop Commander, 45 Commando Group, said:
"Marine Mick Laski made an enormous contribution to the Corps; his loss will leave a gaping hole in Yankee Company, and the Commandos' Signals Troop.
"Hugely popular and deeply respected, Marine Mick Laski was mature well beyond his years, offering compassion and understanding to his friends. He was extremely quick-witted, and always looked for any opportunity for some banter, especially with his 'oppos' [friends] in Yankee Company, where his enthusiasm was renowned as second-to-none.
"Our thoughts are with Marine Laski's family at this difficult time. He will never be forgotten in 45 Commando."
Captain Ralph Cottrell Royal Marines, Second-in-Command Yankee Company, 45 Commando Group, said:
"Marine Mick Laski was an excellent soldier and signaller who was a popular member of Yankee Company and will be sorely missed. He was completely reliable both on the ground and in the operations room. On previous company patrols he had been my signaller, on my shoulder, covering my back and making sure all my messages were passed as I commanded the patrol.
"I recall wading chest deep in an irrigation ditch with him to my front. Moments before we had been in contact with the enemy and I remember him calling to Corporal Moore 'this is hoofing, you've gorra get a phot of this!' with a big grin on his face. It was good Commando soldiering and was what he loved to do.
"I will miss his humour, the conversations we had, often late at night or early morning when we were on watch, and his drive and energy to excel in whatever he did."
Warrant Officer Class 2 Dave Irons Royal Marines, Signals Troop Sergeant Major, said:
"When Marine Mick Laski joined 45 Commando from his signals course he took every opportunity he could to remind me how much he wanted to be in a company detachment, to the point were he knew where the gaps were before I did.
"Just before pre-deployment training he got his wish and joined Yankee Company; the smile on his face said it all. Since then I didn't get to see him much as he was fully embedded within Yankee Company, however last time I spoke to him he was 'loving it' at Inkerman and was always keen to go out with Company Tactical Headquarters and be amongst it with the rest of the lads.
"Marine Mick Laski was an exceptional person overflowing with the qualities you would expect of a Royal Marine, dedicated to his friends, 45 Commando and the Corps. His loss will be deeply felt by us all."
Corporal Dan Moore Royal Marines, Yankee Company Signals Detachment, 45 Commando Group, said:
"Mick was a massive part of Yankee Company Signals Detachment, always ready to help me whenever I needed it. He was the most professional bloke I ever knew, never cutting a corner in any aspect of his work.
"If he wasn't working or sorting out his kit, which he never stopped fiddling with and then testing it, he was entertaining the lads with his 'chad' motorbike stories or his embarrassing dancing when he was listening to his music. He will be greatly missed by me and everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him.
"Mick, you were a top friend and an outstanding Marine. I'll never forget you mate."
Marine Mark Goldsbury Royal Marines, Yankee Company Signals Detachment, 45 Commando Group, said:
"I worked with Mick day-in day-out for the last one-and-a-half years; it was a pleasure to have known him, and he was a true inspiration to work with. He was the most professional man I've worked with and there was never a dull moment, whether it be him spinning his run-ashore dits [stories], or giving advice on what car or motorbike to buy. Mick was an asset to the Corps and the Signals Detachment, but also a great friend who I will sorely miss and never forget.
"My thoughts go out to his family at this difficult time. Rest in Peace mate; see you in the Big Man's Bar."
Marine Karl Neave Royal Marines, Signals Troop, a close friend, said:
"It was with great sadness and shock that I heard the news of Marine Laski's tragic death on returning from R&R [rest and recuperation].
"The first thing that came to mind was the time we was on our S3s [signals course] and just before going on exercise one of the S2s gave Laski the name of 'Cow Head', just because of the sheer size of his head compared to his body! He took it quite well, which summed him up, he never took things too seriously always ensuring the lads' morale was high whether down at Signals lines (where it was needed) or whilst out for a drink.
"He was always reminding me how elite all 'Scousers' are compared to the rest of the world! He was a true professional when on the ground getting amongst it with the lads, a job he was proud of and loved doing.
"Laski was a great friend, a great colleague and a great bootneck! He will be sorely missed but never forgotten."