Army dog handlers receive campaign medals in Rutland

image captionCol Smith said Army dogs would continue to perform an essential role

About 50 Army dog handlers have received their campaign medals in Rutland after a gruelling tour of Afghanistan.

The 104 Military Working Dog Squadron spent six months sniffing out weapons and explosives. One handler was shot dead on patrol last month.

The soldiers received their medals in a parade at St George's Barracks in North Luffenham.

They were also given a commendation for "distinguished service".

'Not invincible'

On 1 March, L/Cpl Liam Tasker, 26, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, was killed in Helmand Province. His dog, springer spaniel Theo, later suffered a seizure and also died.

Col Neil Smith, head of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, told the soldiers L/Cpl Tasker was a real "star" who exemplified the "character and capability" of the squadron.

"Every one of you can be very, very proud of all you have achieved in the last six months," said Col Smith.

"There are people, soldiers, Afghan security forces and Afghan civilians who owe their lives to what you and your dogs achieved."

He spoke of the importance of dogs in war zones historically, and in the present, and said they would continue to perform an essential role for the armed forces.

Wishing the soldiers a good leave period, he added: "Please take care - you may be brilliant but you are not invincible."

The squadron is part of the first Military Working Dog Regiment.

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