April 19 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
A dedicated soldier is looking forward to reuniting with his wife who he married just one day before a six-month deployment to Afghanistan.
Private Matthew Cockroft, from Ipswich, is close to completing his tour in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, where he is currently deployed with other Army Reservists from 158 Transport Regiment.
Pte Cockroft, who works at the Port of Felixstowe, has served in blistering summer heat and freezing winter weather alongside regular troops in Camp Bastion and with the mammoth task of redeploying equipment home to Britain.
He swapped operating a gantry crane at Felixstowe for driving and maintaining an armoured military equivalent of a commercial flatbed lorry.
Pte Cockroft, 38, who married Caz last May, said: “It’s good getting out on the ops and doing the job we trained for.
“There’s a massive job to do here and I’m playing my part.”
He deployed along with 23 other Reservists from 158 Transport Regiment and was amalgamated with regular soldiers to form a single troop of 30 in May in preparation for operations in September.
The troops went to Germany to join 2 Close Support Logistic Regiment (CSLR) before heading to Bastion to prepare vehicles to be returned to the UK.
The vehicles must be completely free of dirt and grease and Pte Cockroft’s high performance and hard work has earned him the admiration and respect of his chain of command as well as his fellow troops.
2 CSLR recently appeared on Top Gear and presenter James May joined a combat logistic patrol in Afghanistan with Pte Cockroft and his colleagues.
The former Stoke High School student said: “James May was a funny bloke, and he spent a lot of time with the guys chatting before the patrol.
“He was really interested in the trucks and the blokes that drive them, and I enjoyed that. He’s a really genuine, down to earth kind of guy. That was good for morale.”
Pte Cockroft had to balance preparing for his wedding at the same time as he readied for Afghanistan.
“Getting my call up papers and planning a wedding at the same time got a little emotional,” he added.
With less than a month left to serve, he is looking forward to his return home to see his wife and their five children.
He said: “I’m looking forward to going home now and getting back to normality, being a father and a husband full time again and getting back to work.”