News Irish Soldier Killed By Taliban

An Irish soldier killed in Afghanistan while serving in the British Army on September 4 grew up in Miami with his Irish parents.

Justin Cupples, 29, was on foot patrol in the Northern Helmand province of Afghanistan, a strong Taliban occupied region, last Thursday morning, September 4, when he stepped on a tripwire trap laid by the Taliban, according to the U.K. Ministry of Defense.

His colleagues from the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) provided Cupples with medical care but it was too late. Fifteen minutes after the explosion, he was pronounced dead.

Cupples served in Afghanistan under Lieutenant Paddy Bury from Co. Wicklow.

Bury, who now lives in England, told reporters, "Ranger Cupples was a world-wise and interesting man with as much bravery and determination as he had knowledge. He will be sorely missed."

Cupples, whose parents come from Co. Cavan, lived with his Lithuanian wife, Vilma, in the small town of Virginia before he joined the British Army.

This was not Cupples' first time in Afghanistan. In 2001 he served on board the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt during the first stages of a U.S. led operation to overthrow the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.

In an interview given to the News Letter, a Northern Ireland newspaper last April, Cupples said the one thing he regretted after 9/11 was not being able to go into Afghanistan and "do the job that needed to be done."

"I would be lying if I said I wasn't apprehensive at some level but I'm anxious to go at the same time," he said.

He went on to say that it took him some time to get over the 9/11 attacks, "because my ship left nine days after that happened we didn't get the chance to deal with it."

After completing his time with the U.S. Navy, Cupples moved back home to Co. Cavan in 2003.

After a few years break, Cupples, known to his friends as Cups, decided to enlist in the British Army. After completing his training he joined the RIR in 2007.

The North's First Minister Peter Robinson, said of Cupples, "We owe a great debt of gratitude to him and the young people who are fighting to build peace and stability in Afghanistan and protect us from the threat of international terrorism."

Cupples parents, who were on vacation when they discovered their son's death, now divide their time between Ireland and the U.S.

The Cavan man was the 117th member of Britain's Armed Forces to die in Afghanistan since November 2001.

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