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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 16:41 GMT
Gulf crash flyer was due to wed
Royal Navy Sea King Airborne helicopter
Seven dead in helicopter crash

Three of the servicemen from RNAS Culdrose who died when their helicopters collided close to HMS Ark Royal have been named.

They were Lieutenant Phil West, 32, who was due to be married in August, Lieutenant Tony King, 35, who leaves a wife and two young children and Lieutenant James Williams, 28, who had joined the base in January.

They were among seven members of the base's 849 Squadron who were killed in the Gulf on Saturday, 22 March.

Lieutenant West, of Budock Water near Falmouth, lived with his fiancee Nicky, a nurse at Treliske Hospital in Truro.

Philip West
Philip West: Admired by colleagues
The couple, who were to be married in August, had been converting a barn together, said the Royal Navy.

Lieutenant West, known as "Stretch" because of his 6ft 4ins height, was described by his fiancee as "patient, thoughtful and considerate".

A navy statement said: "Both families were looking forward to celebrating the couple's marriage in August, and his loss is hard to bear.

"However, they have all been overwhelmed by the tremendous support they have received from friends and family, which is proving a great comfort."

Lieutenant West, admired by his colleagues for his professionalism, lived as a boy in Carlisle before moving to Hoylake on the Wirral at the age of 10.

He went to Salford University, joining the University Royal Navy Unit, and went on to attend the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, Devon.

His parents recalled that he always wanted to fly, and, after undergoing Sea King Observer training, he gained his wings in 1994.

Two children

He served with HMS Invincible in the Adriatic in 1996.

Two years later he met Nicky while serving at RNAS Culdrose and, much to the amusement of his family, became "quite a countryman," said the navy.

"He loved his dog Georgie and Nicky's four horses."

Anthony King
Tony King: Due for promotion
Lieutenant King, from Helston, who leaves a wife and two young children, was a popular member of the squadron, and had just learned he had won promotion.

Lieutenant Commander Barbara Mann, who has worked with the families of those who died in the accident, said: "Tony's family described him as a larger-than-life character, with a tremendous presence.

"He was popular with his squadron and Tony's colleagues were delighted at the news of his forthcoming promotion and considered very well deserved.

"Tony left all who touched his life with affectionate and happy memories."

Lieutenant Williams, from Falmouth, had already become a popular member of 849 squadron, despite only joining in January.

James Williams
James Williams: Navy was ambition
His parents, Vernon and Liz, said in a statement their son was "proud to wear his uniform" and "died doing the job he loved most".

The officer, who grew up in Winchester with older sister Caroline, went to Liverpool University where he met his fiancee Sarah.

After joining the Royal Navy in 1999, he trained as a Sea King Observer, was awarded his wings last year, and joined 849 Flight this January.

"James was a very popular character in the Squadron. He and Sarah have many good friends who are providing tremendous support at this difficult time," said the Navy.

The couple had bought a house together in Falmouth, where Sarah intended to practise as a dentist.

"From an early age James had been fascinated by aircraft. He joined the Royal Navy in fulfilment of an ambition to fly and serve his country," said the Navy statement.

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