Farewell to Paddington war hero
FAMILY, friends and comrades have paid their last respects to a first grade soldier from Paddington who was killed in Afghanistan. Hundreds of mourners attended Lance Corporal Tom Keogh s funeral at the Church of Our Lady the Rosary last Thurs
FAMILY, friends and comrades have paid their last respects to a "first grade" soldier from Paddington who was killed in Afghanistan.
Hundreds of mourners attended Lance Corporal Tom Keogh's funeral at the Church of Our Lady the Rosary last Thursday.
The 24-year-old, from 4th Battalion the Rifles, died from a gunshot wound when his battalion came under fire from insurgents in Sangin, Helmand Province, on March 7.
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Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Jones, his commanding officer said: "He was a warrior. A genuine legend and I do not use that word lightly.
"He was a fantastic man and a real character. As a soldier he was one of the finest.
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"There are some people who are born with more talent than the rest of us and he was one of those. He was one of the very best of his generation."
Traffic was stopped and soldiers presented arms as the cortege arrived at the church by police escort. The coffin, draped in the union flag, was surrounded by flowers reading Tom, Son and Brother.
Lt Col Jones painted a picture of a charismatic man who was able to combine bringing humour to his battalion with a determination to succeed.
"He would keep others amused for hours. His charisma left a lasting mark on everyone he touched," he said.
"The battalion has lost one of its real characters.
"If things went wrong, he would remain cool. Whatever 'it' is, Lance Corporal Keogh had it in abundance.
"On a form he had to fill in before signing up he was asked what he hoped to achieve as a soldier. He wrote he wanted a statue erected for him in Trafalgar Square.
"I'm not sure we'll be able to arrange that but I know his name will live on as an inspiration to young riflemen."
L/Cpl Keogh enlisted in 2003 and served until 2008, including a tour in Iraq, before taking a year's break. He rejoined in 2009 and was due to deploy alongside his own platoon only to be injured in pre-deployment training, an injury which left him "devastated".
He excelled himself while on leave though, returning as top student of 130 men when a guest on another battalion's promotion course.
Once recovered from injury he was able to deploy to Afghanistan with a different battalion and had been in the country for a month before his death.
Corporal Daniel Ord, who had known L/Cpl Keogh for nine years and served alongside him in Iraq, said: "You get people who are meant to be soldiers and he was one of those - a natural.
"He was a legend. We're a close-knit family and he was one of us."
L/Cpl Keogh, who lived on the Hallfield Estate, leaves behind his mother and father, Marion and Lawrence, and his two brothers, Christopher and Michael.