A SERVICEMAN has spoken of the double tragedy of losing his brother and platoon commander within a week.

Just a day after attending the repatriation of Captain Stephen Healey last week, Corporal Matt Thacker was told his brother had been killed.

Cpl Michael Thacker, from 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, was repatriated alongside Private Gregg Stone, from 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, yesterday.

Cpl Matt Thacker, also of 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, joined some 400 people to pay their respects at the memorial garden on the edge of Carterton.

The 25-year-old, of Cwmbran in Wales, said: “He was a great brother. He was my older brother and he always looked after me.

“I looked up to him and I followed him into the army.”

He added: “He was a one-of-a-kind. He was funny, cheeky and he was proud to be in the army and to be a father.

“We used to pretend we were wrestlers all the time when we were kids. We weren’t just brothers, we were best of friends.

“I am devastated – it just doesn’t feel real – and it is horrid to be back here again.”

Cpl Michael Thacker, 27, was killed last Friday after being hit by small arms fire.

He was evacuated by helicopter but could not be saved.

Cpl Matt Thacker’s wife, Vicky Thacker, 26, said the brothers and their wives lived next door to each other while on duty in Cyprus.

She said: “We had a swimming pool and Mike used to break in through our window, help himself to a pint from the fridge and lie in the pool.

“When we came back, he would say: ‘All right, do you want one?’ “He was a lovable rogue and he was the happiest person I have ever come across in my life. He was constantly trying to make other people laugh.”

Close family friend John Watkins, 44, of Cwmbran, said: “Michael was an absolute entertainer.

“If you could not see him in a room you could definitely hear him. He had a raucous and infectious laugh.

“If anyone was down he was always trying to bring them up. He is going to be missed terribly by all.”

Cpl Kristian Orton, of 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, said: “Pretty much the whole battalion knew who he was because of the type of person he was.

“He always laughed and joked and you would hear his laugh across the barracks.

“He won’t just be missed in the platoon, he will be missed in the regiment.”

Pte Stone, 20, was on an operation to apprehend insurgents who had abducted an Afghan police officer when he was shot and killed on Sunday.

In a statement, his family said: “He will always be a true hero in all our hearts.

“Words cannot begin to described this great loss, and we are exceptionally proud of Gregg for everything he was, has, and still is.”