The family of a soldier who died after being injured in a live firing exercise have paid tribute to him, saying they are “heartbroken” and “not ready to say goodbye”.
Sergeant Gavin Hillier, from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, was fatally injured at Castlemartin in Pembrokeshire, south-west Wales, on Thursday.
His death was confirmed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), with a spokesman saying: “Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this tragic time.
“An investigation is under way and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”
In a statement released through the British Army, Sergeant Hillier’s wife Karyn and sons Declan and Connor said: “I thank you for the day you came into my life and made me your wife and became the father to our two beautiful boys.
“We are absolutely heartbroken and can’t express how proud we are of you. Our boys will continue to make you proud and you will forever live on through them.
“Daddy we are not ready to say goodbye just yet so until we meet again, we love you always.”
The statement said Sgt Hillier had served a distinguished career, serving on operations in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and had been awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct medal by The Prince of Wales in 2019.
The statement described him as “universally loved” across his battalion, saying his “professionalism and dedication to service was outstanding”.
Dyfed-Powys Police said it is leading an investigation into the death and officers are liaising with the Health and Safety Executive and the MoD.
Sgt Hillier is not the first soldier to have died after an incident at the Castlemartin ranges.
In 2017, corporals Matthew Hatfield and Darren Neilson of the Royal Tank Regiment died after their tank exploded during a training exercise on a firing range.
A 21-year-old soldier, Mike Maguire, died at Castlemartin in 2012 after being shot in the head while relaxing at a location just outside the training range.
A 2013 inquest into his death heard he was hit in the temple by a single machine gun bullet fired by a fellow soldier during a training exercise.
The inquest jury ruled Ranger Maguire, who was a member of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, had been unlawfully killed.
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