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Memorial tributes paid to soldier
A memorial service was held today for a "rising star" soldier killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas, 26, of the Intelligence Corps, was one of five British servicemen killed when the Lynx aircraft went down in Kandahar province on April 26.
He died with Captain Thomas Clarke, Warrant Officer Spencer Faulkner and Corporal James Walters, of the Army Air Corps and Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan of the Intelligence Corps.
Hundreds of residents lined the streets of Kington on Friday to pay tribute to L/Cpl Thomas, before a private funeral service at Hereford Crematorium.
A service of thanksgiving was also held at St Mary's Church in Kington, Herefordshire, this afternoon.
In a military eulogy issued following the service, L/Cpl Thomas was described as having a "natural affinity" for those around him.
"The Corps has lost a rising star, a real talent and an irresistible character," it said.
"Today we should remember what he has given us all; and on behalf of the Corps we will all miss him."
An anonymous tribute, written in Afghanistan, said L/Cpl Thomas was "an Intelligence Corps soldier of the highest calibre.
"An intuitive analyst, outstanding tradesman and maestro with words, he was unflinching under pressure and passionate about his work," it said.
"A true gentleman, he was a shining example to every Intelligence Corps soldier and officer. His mischievous sense of humour, quick wit and likeable personality was contagious, quickly bonding with the team and always willing to lend a hand wherever needed.
"His cheeky smile, heart of gold and cheerful character never failed to raise a smile or lift team spirit, no matter how tired or distant from home you felt."
On May 6, hundreds of people gathered in Carterton, Oxon, to pay their respects to the fallen personnel as they were repatriated.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has denied claims by the Taliban that insurgents shot the helicopter down, with initial investigations indicating a "tragic accident" as the cause of the crash.
Following the deaths of the five men, the MoD and their families issued touching tributes.
Group Captain Richard Maddison, Station Commander at RAF Odiham, where all of the five men except L/Cpl Thomas were based, said: "As with all losses of personnel in Afghanistan, we mourn the loss of our most capable and dedicated personnel, who served without complaint and in full understanding of the risks associated with their roles.
"They were fine ambassadors for their unit and for defence as a whole, and we shall not forget them."
L/Cpl Thomas, from Brecon in Powys, Mid Wales, had volunteered for deployment to Afghanistan and arrived there in December last year.
He graduated from the University of Reading in 2009 with a BA in War, Peace and International Relations and was a member of the University's Officer Training Corps.
After moving to London, L/Cpl Thomas worked as a researcher for Liberal Democrat MP Roger Williams and became an Army reservist in 2011.
In a statement, his family said: " Oliver was a truly amazing person, living his life to the full, while fulfilling some of his many dreams and adventures.
"He was very much loved and will be greatly missed by his grieving family and friends."
Roger Williams, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, said he would miss L/Cpl Thomas "dearly".
"Not only was it a pleasure to work alongside Oli for many years, but I consider it a privilege to have been able to call him a friend," Mr Williams said.
"Oli's family have so much to be proud of in their son. Our thoughts are with them at this particularly difficult time. We will all miss him dearly."
The helicopter in which the men were travelling is believed to have been from AAC 657 Squadron, a top unit based at RAF Odiham which provides support and transport for special forces troops.
The aircraft went down in the Takhta Pul district of Kandahar, in what was the worst incident involving a British military helicopter in Afghanistan since the war began there in 2001.
The crash caused the third biggest single loss of life of British troops since the conflict in Afghanistan began and brought the total number of service personnel killed there to 453.
The incident equalled the previous worst disaster involving a British helicopter, when a Lynx aircraft crashed in Basra City, Iraq, in May 2006 killing the five service personnel on board.