Page last updated at 19:10 GMT, Monday, 2 November 2009

Soldier killed defusing 65th bomb

Staff Sgt Olaf Schmid
Staff Sgt Olaf Schmid saved many lives

A British soldier responsible for making safe 64 bombs during five months in Afghanistan, died as he tried to defuse another, it has emerged.

Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid, 30, of the Royal Logistic Corps, was a week off seeing his family again when he was killed on Saturday in Helmand province.

His wife, Christina, said she had lost her "soulmate", as colleagues paid tribute to a "courageous legend".

A total of 224 UK military personnel have died in Afghanistan since 2001.

'Phenomenal husband'

Staff Sgt Schmid, who had been in the Army for 13 years, had been commanding a bomb disposal team who were dealing with a roadside device near Sangin.

He was killed when the bomb went off as he was defusing it.

A week later, he had been due to fly home for a two-week break, the Ministry of Defence said.

Part of the 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, based in Didcot, Oxfordshire, he was responsible for making safe 64 roadside bombs since his tour in Afghanistan began in June.

Staff Sgt Schmid, born in Cornwall, lived in Winchester with his five-year-old stepson and wife.

His courage was not displayed in a fleeting moment of time; he stared death in the face on a daily basis
Lt Col Gareth Bex

Christina Schmid said: "Oz was a phenomenal husband and loving father who was cruelly murdered on his last day of a relentless five-month tour.

"The pain of losing him is overwhelming. I take comfort knowing he saved countless lives with his hard work."

Lieutenant Colonel Robert Thomson, commanding officer of 2 Rifles Battle Group, said: "Staff Sgt Oz Schmid was simply the bravest and most courageous man I have ever met.

"No matter how difficult or lethal the task which lay in front of us, he was the man who only saw solutions.

"He saved lives in 2 Rifles time after time and for that he will retain a very special place in every heart of every rifleman in our extraordinary battle group."

Lt Col Gareth Bex, commanding officer of the counter IED (improvised explosive devices) task force, said Staff Sgt Schmid had been a "legend".

He added: "Staff Sgt Oz Schmid was a brilliant operator and a superb soldier. We loved him like a brother. He was a much adored member of our close knit family.

"With his tousled hair and boyish grin his effervescent presence was always good for morale and he had an infectious enthusiasm.

"His courage was not displayed in a fleeting moment of time - he stared death in the face on a daily basis.

"Many soldiers and ordinary Afghans owe their lives to Staff Sgt Schmid's gallant actions and his sacrifice will never be forgotten."

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