TRIBUTES have been paid to one of the three Penicuik-based soldiers killed in last week’s Afghanistan bomb blast. They were led by Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, military officers at Glencorse Barracks, and his friends.
Private Robert (Bobby) Hetherington was educated at Edinburgh’s Craigmount High School and served with 51st Highland, 7th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (7 Scots).
The 25-year-old was born in the United States but raised and educated in the city and Scotland.
He enlisted in the Territorial Army in October 2006 and was mobilised to join The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, for Operation Herrick 18 on November 30.
Lieutenant Colonel Robin Lindsay, Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion, said the loss of three soldiers – including Private Hetherington – was a “hammer blow” to the battalion and the regimental family.
He said: “Private Bobby Hetherington was a thoughtful and humorous soldier who was always quick to find the fun in army life and to keep the chain of command on our toes with his sharp wit and insightful mind. He was gregarious and open and this made him a much-liked and respected member of his platoon and the battalion.”
Major Tim Petransky added: “Pte Hetherington embodied the ethos of the TA, who stand shoulder to shoulder with us in this fight. To us, he was very much part of 2 Scots and we were extremely proud to have him serve with us.”
His colleague, Lance Corporal Russ MacLean, also in the 7 Scots, described him as his “best friend”.
“He was the life and soul of the party and one of the kindest and friendliest people I have ever met”.
Bobby graduated from Stirling University in 2010 with a BSc in environmental geography.
A university spokesman said: “Bobby was always very keen on pursuing a military career and was part of the University Officer Training Corps.
“Our thoughts are with his family and friends and girlfriend Maeve.”
Bobby had plans to attend the Royal Military Academy and become an officer. But away from the army, Bobby made his name as an international sportsman.
A friend said the soldier was the best home-grown lacrosse player Scotland ever produced – despite only taking the game up eight years ago. By last year he was Scotland captain.
Keith Robertson, a coach with Lacrosse Scotland, said: “He had a natural ability. He was without a doubt the best player that Scotland has ever developed.”
Lord Provost Donald Wilson said: “It is a terrible tragedy when a member of the armed forces loses their life in service and we feel it even more keenly when that person is one of Edinburgh’s own.”