ARMY bosses have paid glowing tributes to Cpl Jake Hartley who was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday saying he was an inspirational man.
Corporal Hartley, from Dewsbury, joined the Battalion in December 2008 and his potential was immediately recognised.
This morning the Army said Cpl Hartley had a very bright future in the Army and he was already promoting well ahead of his years, which was testament to his soldiering ability.
Perhaps more importantly, it added, Cpl Hartley had an innate ability to inspire those around him and make them achieve more than they ever imagined was possible.
Cpl Hartley was very popular within in the Army and will be remembered as the life and soul of the party, a generous outgoing young man with an exceptionally bright future. He will be sorely missed.
He leaves behind him his mother and stepfather, Nathalie and Mark, brother Ethan and uncle and best friend, Luke.
A family statement said: “We are devastated at the loss of our son and best friend. Jake was always in the limelight and a larger than life character. He loved Army life and was very determined to do well and achieve his goals. He was kind and generous, a heart of gold with a wicked sense of humour. Above all, he loved his family and friends.”
Cpl Hartley was one of six killed in the Lashkar Gah Durai region on the border of Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
They were on a patrol to dominate the area and maintain freedom of movement when their Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device resulting in the death of all six personnel.
Many of Cpl Hartley’s colleagues have praised his bravery, dedication and selflessness.
Lieutenant Colonel Zac Stenning MBE, Commanding Officer, 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington’s), said Cpl Hartley was a star.
He added: “Cpl Jake Hartley was the ultimate infantry soldier and naturally stood out from his peers. Fit, motivated, yet always understated, he was one of the best.
“His rise through the ranks had been swift and rightly so; he was a natural leader as exemplified by his top position on the gruelling Infantry Section Commanders Battle Course.”
Lt Col Ian Mortimer, Commanding Officer, Combined Force Lashkar Gah (The Queen’s Royal Hussars Battle Group) said Cpl Hartley was a leading light of his generation and was professional to the end.
“We have lost an exemplary soldier and an inspirational young leader,” he said.
Many senior members of the Army said Cpl Hartley was simply one of the best they’d worked with. They praised his hard work, strength, boundless energy and enthusiasm and said he would have quickly risen up the ranks thanks to his charismatic personality and strong leadership qualities.
Officer Commanding Corunna Company Major Edward Colver 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington’s), added:
“From the moment I met him on exercise on the prairies of Canada I knew he was a star of the future.
“His knowledge of his profession, application and enthusiasm were first class. Corporal Hartley did not only excel as a soldier, he also won Army Cup medals in both Football and Rugby League. He was the Company’s Physical Training Instructor, as well as being an active member of the Corporals’ Mess. He was a true all rounder.”
Cpl Hartley was also described as the ‘biggest asset’ in his Platoon by Sergeant Stewart Watts, 7 Platoon Sergeant, Corunna Company, 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington’s).
Soldiers in the Army said Cpl Hartley was more than a colleague, he was a friend and like a brother to them.
Lance Corporal Jonasa Sikivou said: “JJ mate, buddy, brother in arms. You said, ‘see you later buddy,’ I didn’t know you were saying goodbye, for we will not meet again in this world. You were a source of inspiration and I will miss and always remember you.”
One of Cpl Hartley’s school friends who served with him said he could not believe what had happened.
Private Lewis Dixon said: “I just want to say thanks for all the laughs and great times we had. You were a proper top lad. We go back 12 years, all the way back to Earlsheaton High School playing push penny for our dinner money.
“I can’t believe it was just yesterday that we were talking, laughing and acting like kids. Then just like that you’re taken away from me and the boys. Jake ‘Alley’ Hartley, I’ll never forget you and you will always be in my heart, bro. I love you like my own brother and I always will. Rest well best friend.”