A former head of army public relations described Sunday Mirror journalist Rupert Hamer as “one of the best war correspondents of his generation” as the body of the reporter was flown home.
Writing in today’s Daily Mirror, Brigadier Ben Bathurst OBE pays personal tribute to the 39-year-old father of three who was killed on Saturday by an explosive device while embedded with US troops in Afghanistan. His body was flown back to RAF Lyneham yesterday.
Photographer Phil Coburn, seriously injured in the explosion, was yesterday also flown back to the UK and is receiving treatment at Birmingham’s Selly Oak Hospital where he remains in a serious but stable condition. According to the Daily Mirror, Coburn is expected to make a good recovery.
Bathurst said he first met Hamer when the Mirror journalist was embedded with UK troops in Iraq in 2005.
“What struck me most was that Rupert was the consummate professional, dedicated to getting the story, willing to share the same risks as we didâ€¦But at the same time generating a rapport with all he met.
“What I liked about him as that he clearly valued the importance of establishing a long-term relationship with the military.”
Chris Hughes, writing in the Mirror today, revealed that Hamer’s friend Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Mayo “said goodbye” to him on behalf of Army colleagues before his body was flown out from Camp Bastion.
Mayo told the Mirror: “I spent ten minutes with Rupert after travelling to say goodbye to our friend. I wanted you to know at least one representative of the army who knew him was there to see him off.
“It is a crying shame. A lovely man who was great fun and always wanted to do his best for the soldiers.”
Max Bennett, now with ITV Anglia in Norwich, was chief reporter on Hamer’s old paper the Eastern Daily Press in the early 1990s.
He told the EDP: ‘Rupert was a natural journalist – someone who lived and breathed the job and approached every story with enthusiasm and tenacity.”
Sky News‘ Geoff Meade, who was the last rival reporter to work alongside Hamer, told the Mirror: “It was always a delight and a challenge to work alongside Rupert. After the deadlines passed he was the man you wanted to spend time beside… He would have us all doubled up with his hilarious observations.”