A KIRKCALDY-born soldier who was gunned down by Taliban forces in Afghanistan last week returned home today (Thursday).
Lance Corporal Liam Tasker (26) from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, was killed in action last Tuesday after saving countless lives in Afghanistan through his role as an arms and explosives search dog handler.
The soldier was taking part in a patrol with his dog Theo when they were engaged by small arms fire, during which he was struck.
On returning to Camp Bastion, Theo suffered a seizure and died.
The 22 month old springer spaniel was said to have died of a broken heart after his master was killed. Today both L Cpl Tasker and Theo will return to Wootton Bassett side by side, with his family hoping he will be buried in Tayport, where his mother Jane Duffy is from, with a full military funeral.
His family – mother Jane, father Ian Tasker, brother Ian and sisters Laura and Nicola – said he will be sorely missed.
They said: “There are three words that best describe Liam, larger than life.
‘‘He lit up every room he walked into with his cheeky smile.
‘‘He was the best son, grandson, brother and friend you could ever wish to meet.
‘‘He died a hero doing a job he was immensely passionate about.
‘‘We are so proud of him and everything he’s achieved. Words can’t describe how sorely he will be missed. Sleep well Liam, you are forever in our hearts.”
The Ministry of Defence said L Cpl Tasker had an instant and natural empathy with dogs when he joined the Dog Training Group, becoming a rising star within the 104 Military Working Dog Squadron he joined in 2010.
Together, L Cpl Tasker and Theo uncovered 14 home-made bombs and hoards of weapons in just five months on tour – more than any other handler and dog in the conflict.
A spokesman said: “From the onset of his operational tour in Afghanistan, he provided strong search and clearance capability for units across Helmand province.
‘‘In a short period of time he had significant success locating improvised explosive devices, weapons and bomb-making equipment.
‘‘His success undoubtedly saved many lives.
“L Cpl Tasker was an outgoing, jovial and friendly character.
‘‘He was extremely popular within his squadron.
‘‘His easy-going, confident approach belied a consummate professional.
‘‘He always strived to be the best, and within the squadron he was one of the best.
‘‘He will be sorely missed by all in the squadron.”
Although born in Kirkcaldy, L Cpl Tasker moved around the UK while growing up, with both of his parents in the RAF.
His girlfriend Leah Walters said: “LT never met anyone without touching their lives in some way. The amount of support both I and his family have received in the last day alone pays testament to this.
“I am the proudest girlfriend there could ever be and there will be an LT-sized hole in my life forever.
‘‘Sleep well my darling, my soul mate, my best friend.”