A BOMB disposal expert based at Didcot’s Vauxhall Barracks has been killed in an explosion in Helmand Province in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt Olaf Schmid, of 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, part of the Royal Logistic Corps, died instantly on Saturday when a roadside bomb he was trying to defuse exploded in the Sangin region of Helmand province.
He was commanding an Improvised Explosive Device disposal team on the final day of his five-month tour of duty.
Staff Sgt Schmid had been conducting a manual route search to clear devices planted by Taliban fighters.
The married father-of-one lived with his family in Winchester. His wife Christina said: “Oz was a phenomenal husband and loving father who was cruelly murdered on his last day of a relentless five-month tour.
"He was my best friend and soul mate. The pain of losing him is overwhelming. I take comfort knowing he saved countless lives with his hard work. I'm so proud of him."
Staff Sgt Schmid arrived in Afghanistan in June, and was thrown in at the deep end, participating in Operation Panther's Claw during the summer to secure a large area of northern Helmand.
During the course of his tour, he attended 41 tasks, rendered safe 64 IEDs and attended 11 finds of bomb-making equipment.
Lt Col Robert Thomson, the commanding officer of the 2 Rifles Battle Group, said: “Staff Sgt Oz Schmid was simply the bravest and most courageous man I have ever met.
“Under relentless IED and small arms attacks, he stood taller than the tallest. He opened the Pharmacy Road and 24 hours later, found 31 IEDs in one go on route Sparta. Every single company in 2 Rifles adored working with him.
"No matter how difficult or lethal the task which lay in front of us, he was the man who only saw solutions.”
Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth added: "His bravery, skill and self-less commitment undoubtedly saved lives and his legacy will spur on his fellow soldiers to continue in their work.
"My thoughts are with the family and friends of this much-loved soldier."