Obituary - Lieutenant Neal Turkington



Dedicated young soldier destined for great things within the Gurkha Rifles. Published Date: 19/07/2010 (Portadown Times)

Lieutenant Neal Turkington was born in Portadown - he was educated at Portadown College - and was soon to celebrate his 27th birthday. In a statement released on the Ministry of Defence website, it reveals that after graduating from Imperial College London Neal attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst from 2007. He was commissioned into 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles in August 2008 and went on to successfully complete the Platoon Commanders' Battle Course in Brecon, South Wales.

His first appointment at regimental duty took him to the jungles of Brunei where he quickly settled in at the helm of 2 Platoon within A (Delhi) Company. Having settled in to regimental life in Brunei, Lieutenant Turkington continued his Gurkha education by attending the mandatory three months of language study in Pokhara, Western Nepal. A keen adventurer and traveller, he found many similarities between the foothills of the Himalayas and the other parts of the world which he travelled to so frequently, notably South America.

At the end of the language training he conducted a memorable trek through Nepal in support of the Gurkha Welfare Trust and perfected the art of speaking Nepali with a Northern Irish accent. On returning to Brunei Lieutenant Turkington turned his attention back to a profession that he showed a real zeal for. The demanding jungle of Brunei was the perfect environment for this passionate infanteer.
He had the highest expectations of himself and his platoon, to whom he dedicated himself wholeheartedly.

Lieutenant Turkington relished the intellectual challenges of infantry command as much as the physical. Ambitious for his platoon, he was constantly challenging accepted practices in order to improve himself and his team, a trait that bore real fruits in the initial three months in Afghanistan. Lieutenant Turkington was in his element as a junior commander and leader in Afghanistan. The time and effort that he had dedicated to his soldiers over the previous two years was paying dividends every day in the toughest of environments.

Under his command 2 Platoon had been playing a key role in the complex counter insurgency campaign that A (Delhi) Company are engaged in. He understood it and ensured that each of his soldiers did too. In the early stages of this operational tour he had shown himself to be a decisive leader with a strong will; the boys followed him and would do so again and again through the most testing of situations.

Outside of his military life Neal had dedicated so much time to other people. He was a humanitarian at heart, except in the boxing ring, and this was shown through a charity that he and friends had established in South America. The statement added that both in and out of work he was a professional of the highest standards, a leader of his generation.

Lt Turkington's family said, "We are devastated with the news of Neal's death . "One of Neal's proudest moments was hearing that he had been commissioned to join the Royal Gurkha Rifles Regiment. "He felt honoured and privileged to serve with such distinguished, courageous and loyal men. "Neal was jovial, kind, considerate and loyal to his family and friends. Our family were inspired by his presence, and generosity. "He was relentless and steadfast in his pursuit of those causes he believed in with his passion for making a difference whatever the circumstance. "We are all so proud of him – we couldn't have asked for a finer son, brother and friend."

Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Strickland MBE, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, Combined Forces Nahr-e-Saraj South said, "Lieutenant Neal Turkington was cruelly taken from us in his prime, gunned down as he took his turn on duty in the Company Operations Room. "He was a courageous and determined platoon commander - a man who could be trusted."

UPDATE AUGUST 2012 - Click here to view video of the dedication ceremony of adding of Lieutenant Turkington's name to the War Memorial of Portadown.