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'Support our troops': Charity speaks out after Woolwich murder

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WITH the brutal killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich on everybody's mind, it is important to celebrate those men and women who chose to protect their country by serving abroad.

This is the message from the Croydon-based Kent and Sharpshooters Yeomanry Association, a charity in Mitcham Road which supports soldiers based in barracks in the area.

In the week following the murder of Drummer Rigby, it has stressed the importance of supporting serving soldiers, both at home and abroad.

One Croydon soldier is 25-year-old Lance Corporal Jason Grais, an army reservist, currently deployed on a six-month tour of duty to Helmand Province in Afghanistan for the second time.

Jason, a lift engineer back home in Croydon, has been a member of C Squadron, Royal Yeomanry, for six years. He went to Afghanistan for the first time in 2011 with an infantry unit.

Although willing to talk about his experiences of fighting in Helmand, Mr Grais and his regiment are unsurprisingly reluctant to give out details in fear of copycat reprisals against them or their family back at home.

This time in Afghanistan, he is serving with Badger Squadron, 2nd Royal Tank Regiment (2 RTR) in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand, providing support to the Afghan security forces as they take full control of security for their country for the first time.

According to the soldier, much has changed in between his two tours.

He said: "There's a huge difference between now and when I was here a few years ago. The Afghan forces are out there providing security, and we're now assisting them if they need it."

Jason was drawn up in November 2012 after volunteering for deployment. Although a reservist, he was pleasantly surprised when he arrived with several reservist friends at the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment to begin intensive pre-deployment training.

"We integrated straight into the squadron," he said. "From the start, we were treated the same as the other soldiers, as if we were regulars, and were made to feel very welcome."

Jason and his comrades from the Royal Yeomanry are due to return to London in September, when he plans to go on holiday with his girlfriend.

His squadron, 2 RTR, are based in Tidworth in Wiltshire and are deployed predominantly in an infantry role, but when they return from Afghanistan they are due to return to their role as an armoured regiment equipped with Challenger 2 main battle tanks.

'Support our troops': Charity speaks out after Woolwich murder


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