At about 6.30pm local time on Thursday, 23rd August 2007 Robert Foster together with Aaron McClure and John Thrumble tragically died in a ‘friendly fire’ incident in southern Afghanistan. The three soldiers, all serving in 7 Platoon B (Suffolk) Company, were killed when the platoon came under accurate fire from a determined Taliban force during a fighting patrol to disrupt enemy activity and reassure the local population north west of Kajaki, in northern Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan.
During the ensuing fire fight air support was requested from two US F15 aircraft to engage the enemy positions and it was then that a bomb tragically struck the compound where the three soldiers and their section were located. An emergency helicopter was tasked to assist, however, sadly Robert Foster, AaronMcClure and John Thrumble were pronounced dead at the scene.
Two other soldiers were also injured in the incident.
Robert Graham Foster was a Private serving with 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment
Private Foster, aged 19, from Harlow, enlisted into the British Army in April 2006 and after completing training as a rifleman at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick, he joined the 1st Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment in October the same year. He had recently participated in exercises in the UK and Kenya.
Private Foster had been serving in Helmand Province in Afghanistan since March 2007 as a rifleman in 7 Platoon B (Suffolk) Company. It was his first operational tour and like Private McClure, he saw significant action during his short time with the Battalion, being involved in numerous, often close quarter, engagements with the Taliban in the most demanding circumstances. In these situations he fought with a strength and courage that belied his relative inexperience, testament to his unswerving commitment to his fellow soldiers.
Private Foster was one of the Company's real characters. An extrovert by nature, his gregarious approach was a refreshing relief from the stresses of combat; unsurprisingly he was hugely popular within his platoon and the wider Company. He had the rare quality to always see the bright side of any situation, irrespective of the severity of events. His confidence and excellent sense of humour shone through at every stage, lifting the morale of all those around him.
An accomplished rifleman who worked hard for his mates, Private Foster clearly enjoyed Army life and being amongst his fellow soldiers. He had a bright future in a career that he loved. His absence will be felt deeply within the Company.
Robert's family said:
"To us Robert was the most wonderful son; he was the life and soul of the party and had a very loving and caring nature. His family and friends now feel a very big gap in their lives. The only consolation is that he died doing the job he loved. We have been overwhelmed by the love and the support we have been shown by everyone since we received this heartbreaking news.His sister Lauren says he was a great brother: He always looked out for me, even though he was younger. I'm so very proud of him and always will be.
"Our thoughts are also with the other families affected by this tragedy and we pray for a full recovery for the two injured soldiers."
Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Carver, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, said:
"As a junior soldier, Private Robert Foster settled in remarkably quickly and was a highly respected Viking. Fiercely loyal to his friends, he had seemingly limitless reserves of courage and strength of character way beyond his years. He had a rare quality of always seeing the bright side of any situation and a mischievous sense of humour which made him hugely popular. Never to be forgotten, our sympathy and prayers are with his family and friends at this very difficult time."
Major Tony Borgnis, Officer Commanding B (Suffolk) Company, said:
"Private Foster joined the Company only six months before deployment to Afghanistan and yet he immediately became an integral part of the team. His consistently high morale was infectious across all ranks with which he served. His apparently unlimited capacity for carrying out courageous acts was an inspiration to the rest of the Company. As a soldier he was utterly dependable and professional even through the darkest of times. As a friend he was compassionate, kind and lifted the spirits of those around him. He will always be remembered by those who were close to him and our deepest sympathy goes out to his family and friends. We will never forget him."
Lieutenant George Seal-Coon, Platoon Commander 7 Platoon B (Suffolk) Company, said:
"Private 'Fozzy' Foster was a beacon for the platoon: his courage, character and sense of humour made him a close friend to those around him. At all times, he carried out his tasks, with the highest professionalism and great personal strength, making him ever steadfast amongst his team. His highest quality was his loyalty, to his platoon, section but above all his friends. He will be sorely missed."
Sergeant 'Woody' Woodrow, Platoon Sergeant, 7 Platoon B (Suffolk) Company, said:
"Private 'Foster Child' was a fun loving, hilariously funny and enthusiastic young soldier. He was one of the true characters within the platoon and a very competent and dependable operator. He was a true team player that was loved and will be truly missed by all."
Lance Corporal Stevie Veal, Section Commander, 7 Platoon B (Suffolk) Company, said:
"Fozzy as he was known by all will be remembered for never turning a dare down. He was up for anything and kept the comedy value of the section up when it was most needed. He was a model for the British Army. It was a privilege to serve with him and we will never forget him."
Private Aaron 'Ronnie' Barker, 7 Platoon B (Suffolk) Company, said:
"Foster was a very funny member of 7 Platoon and will be missed a lot. I remember the first time I met him. It was at the ranges, after a long day shouting, we went to sleep, only to be woken by more shouting. It was Foster sleep-talking. He will be missed a lot by me because he was hard working, down to earth and just a likeable guy who got on with everyone. You will be missed a lot by the whole of 7 Platoon and the Company. Rest in peace mate, my thoughts are with your family."