Bedworth, England, UK
Sergeant, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
8/15/2009, Helmand Province, Afghanistan
Sergeant Simon Valentine, or ‘Val’ to his mates, was born in April 1980 in Bedworth. He joined the Army in May 1997 and started phase 1 training in Bassingbourn before completing his infantry training at ITC Catterick and joining 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2 RRF) in Celle, Germany, which was an armoured infantry unit at the time.
Shortly after arriving in A Company, he completed numerous exercises in Poland and Canada and was hand-picked from the battalion to deploy to Kosovo with the Royal Highland Fusiliers in 1999. On his return from Kosovo he passed a demanding Junior Non-Commissioned Officer cadre and was promoted to Lance Corporal. Subsequently he moved to C Company and redeployed with them to Kosovo in March 2000, before returning and passing the sniper course.
After Kosovo the battalion re-rolled to a light role infantry battalion and moved to North Luffenham in England, where Sgt Valentine completed the Close Observation Platoon (COP) course. From North Luffenham he deployed on a six-month operational tour of Northern Ireland, based in South Armagh. After a short time off, the battalion redeployed to Northern Ireland, this time to Belfast for public order operations during marching season.
In 2002 Sgt Valentine married Gemma, whom he had known since they were at school together. During his time in North Luffenham Sgt Valentine was also involved in covering the fire strikes as well as being prepared as part of the Spearhead Battalion to move at short notice.
The next post for the battalion was Palace Barracks in Belfast, where the battalion moved in 2003. Here Sgt Valentine joined COP and took part in various target-specific anti-terrorist operations. From Northern Ireland he deployed to Iraq with C Company and on his return was selected to attend the Section Commanders Battle Course which he passed with ease and was soon promoted on his return to the battalion.
The unit moved again in late 2005, this time to Cyprus, based at Alexander Barracks in Dhekelia. After taking part in Exercise Saffron Sands in Jordan, Sgt Valentine deployed straight from the desert to southern Iraq for three months as part of the Theatre Reserve Battalion commitment. A short Christmas leave followed, and then he deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan, as an attachment to C Company from Fire Support Company, where he was part of Drums Platoon. After the tour of Sangin, Sgt Valentine completed the demanding Platoon Sergeants Battle Course (PSBC) in Brecon in late 2007.
In March 2008 the battalion moved again, to Cavalry Barracks in Hounslow, where they are still based. Here Sgt Valentine was an integral part of Drums Platoon and completed an intensive period of public duties, performing duties at Buckingham Palace, Windsor and the Tower of London. Sgt Valentine returned to A Company and took over as Platoon Sergeant of 2 Platoon at the beginning of November 2008. He trained with the platoon to prepare them for Operation HERRICK 10 from November until deployment in April 2009. A Company Group was attached to the 2 RIFLES (2nd Battalion The Rifles) Battle Group for this deployment and Sgt Valentine was based with his platoon near Sangin, where he was tragically taken from us by an explosion on 15 August 2009.
Gemma, his wife, said: “Simon, above all else, was a truly loved father, son, husband and friend. To have known him was to have loved him.”
His Company Commander, Major Jo Butterfill, A Company Group, 2 RRF, said: “Sergeant Valentine was the sort of Platoon Sergeant that all Company Commanders want. A totally professional, meticulous soldier whose personal focus and drive masked a genuinely compassionate nature, a wonderful sense of humour and the keenest of eyes for the well-being of his men. Hugely operationally experienced, he had excelled during this tour, helping to mould an outstandingly capable rifle platoon through example, strength of personality and sheer hard work. We served together for about a year, and I very quickly learned to trust his judgement and honesty; I always felt that if I was talking, and Val was nodding, I was on roughly the right track. He was a man of true soldiering talent and real future promise; it was both a pleasure and a privilege to have known and worked with him. His tragic death leaves a void in A Company and the wider battalion that I know we will find impossible to completely fill. I also know that he would now want – and expect – us to drive on with the job at hand, and to do so in a manner of which he could be proud. We will return to work with immense sadness, and in the certain knowledge that our grief is dwarfed by that of his loving wife Gemma, his two young daughters and his wider family. They are foremost in all our thoughts at this terrible time.”
Sergeant Paul Greenhalgh, 3 Platoon, A Company, 2 RRF, a close friend and colleague, said: “If you could say that Val was your friend then you were truly blessed. To me he was my best friend, never asking for anything in return no matter how much he put himself out. I will never forget you mate. Chantelle and Niamh, your daddy will always be looking down on you from the brightest star in the sky.”
Sergeant Darren Hanrahan, 1 Platoon, A Company, 2 RRF, a close friend, said: “Having the pleasure to know Si for many years I could say he has always been a kind-hearted family man. This quality was shown in his work; he treated his platoon like they were a part of his family. He looked after his men and would always put them first at work. Val was a devoted husband and father who always talked about his wife Gemma and his girls. He would always refer to himself as Superman; he had all the memorabilia and had even decorated his platoon house with the Superman emblem, even taking it on patrol with him. He was a super friend to me and this is how I will always remember him.”