Feature: Parents of killed Barking soldier remember his life
PUBLISHED: 10:17 04 December 2015 | UPDATED: 10:26 04 December 2015
Grief manifests itself in a myriad of ways. For Helen Fisher, her shattered world blurred like she was “walking through the fog”, life’s warmth grown cold after the death of her soldier son in Afghanistan.
WO2 Ian Fisher, of the 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, was 42 when he was killed in a suicide attack.
The soldier, who was born in Barking, died on the final day of an operation in the Kamparak area, north-east of Lashkar Gah in Helmand province.
The rawness of his family’s grief has been tempered by time’s steady passage, but Ian’s presence remains through memories, mementoes and commemorations.
And now, two years on from his military funeral at Lichfield Cathedral in December 2013, his parents Helen and Simon have spoken about their son’s passion for the Army, his transformation into a community and national figure and the aftermath of the Afghanistan conflict.
Born in October 1971, Ian, older brother to Lynda, now 40, was a “normal lad growing up”, according to 69-year-old Simon, and “went through all the scrapes teenagers go through”.
While studying geology and physics at Staffordshire University, he had his first taste of military life – in the Territorial Army.
“He always had military leanings,” said Helen, 71. “He was fascinated with anything like that and after joining the TA, he was loving every minute from then on.”
Enlisting with the Staffordshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’) in 1996, Ian went on to serve in Hong Kong, Northern Ireland, Kenya and Iraq.
The dad-of-two began a second tour of Afghanistan in August 2013, as a sergeant major for a company of Warrior fighting vehicles.
Three months later, a knock on their door marked the end of life as his parents knew it.
Helen said: “The day before we were told he was dead, I sent him a cake and that was the first thing I said to the two men.
“They must have thought I was round the twist.
“I don’t think it really hit us.”
At the time of Ian’s death on November 5, his sons James and William were seven and five.
The soldier’s family, who live in Elm Park, soon realised just how much he was loved by his comrades – who called him “The Colonel”.
“He was very highly thought of,” said Helen. “They all looked up to him.
“Even his commanding officers said he would have gone a lot further.”
Ian rarely shared his experiences but, on one occasion at home, he spoke of a raid on the headquarters of a Basra rogue police unit on Christmas Day 2006.
Helen said: “He showed us pictures he’d taken in Iraq and then said, ‘That was me, I did that’ and carried on eating dinner.”
Ian’s family have received the Elizabeth Cross from Prince Charles and their son’s name is on the Wall of Remembrance at the National Arboretum, Staffordshire.
“He has gone from our son to a national figure,” said Helen.
“The community reaction has also been amazing. It is very humbling.”
Following the first anniversary of Ian’s death, his parents “started getting back” on their feet.
But autumn will always be a difficult time.
“With his birthday, death and Remembrance Sunday all together, we put our sadness in one place,” said Helen. “I find that easier.
“Ian loved doing the job he was doing, so he couldn’t have gone in a better way. He has left a big hole which will never heal.”