On Wednesday, 5th September 2007 in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan Damian Wright and Ben Ford were taking part in a routine reassurance patrol 17km north of Lashkar Gah when, shortly after 09.15am local time, the Land Rover vehicle they were travelling in was caught in an explosion. Sadly they were both pronounced dead at the scene. Another soldier and an interpreter who were injured in the explosion were flown by helicopter to the ISAF medical facility at Camp Bastion for treatment. The interpreter later died of his injuries.
Damian Wright and Ben Ford, serving as Privates, were the first fatalities from the newly formed 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), formerly known as the 1st Battalion the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (29th/45th of Foot).
Private Damian Wright, aged 23 from Mansfield, joined the Army on 13 November 2002, and completed his training at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick before joining C Company, 1st Battalion the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters on 2 June 2003, whilst it was stationed in Chester. During his time with the Battalion he served in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 1 and Bosnia. He also took part in exercises in Kenya, Belize and Cyprus.
Lieutenant Colonel Simon Banton Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Worcesters & Foresters) said:
"Private Wright was one of the key characters in our Battalion. Full of life, a natural comedian and a man guaranteed to lift the spirits of the most down hearted. He was devoted to his son, Joshua, and our thoughts are with him at this desperate time. Private Wright will not be forgotten by anyone who had the pleasure and privilege of meeting him."
Major Paul "Shove" Gilby Officer Commanding C Company said:
"Private Damian "Wrighty" Wright was a proud Mansfield lad who joined his local Infantry Battalion, The 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment. He joined for adventure, travel and excitement and served in Cyprus, Belize and Kenya. He saw active service in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and was on his second tour in Afghanistan.
"Small in stature but mighty in character, spirit and life, he was never far from the action, jokes or dramas. He embraced all customs of the Assault Pioneer Platoon with delight and was at his best on a Thursday night out! His main love of his life was his 4 year old son Joshua, who our heart goes out to at this hour. His other key passions, which he will always be remembered for are his addiction to his X BOX, PSP, a good smoke and his cars.
"Quick witted, able and professional he had already been selected to attend promotional courses where he would have excelled as usual. He was a true soldier, fit, determined, able and keen. Always ready to stand ‘FIRM’ and be counted, he was a young man who could be relied on in the tightest of situations and will never be forgotten by those who loved him, worked with him and fought with him. God bless."
Second Lieutenant Jack Bellfield, his Platoon Commander said:
"As the senior soldier in my platoon, Wrighty could be trusted to get the job done. His experience occasionally gave him a sarcastic edge which I will miss greatly. As a role model to younger soldiers, a huge gap will be left which will be difficult to replace."
Private Jack Hawksley, his friend said:
"Wright was a loyal friend whose lively nature shone through everything he did. His son Josh was the light of his life and his fatherly role within the platoon will be missed. He was a constant source of advice for all newcomers and his lack of expressed opinion will leave a void for us all."