A HEROIC soldier killed in Afghanistan died “with his rifle in his hand doing a job he loved”.

An inquest today (November 27), ruled that Captain Richard Holloway, of Hamsterley, County Durham, was killed during active operational duty while serving in the east of Kabul.

Coroner Andrew Tweddle, sitting at Crook, heard how the 29-year-old, of The Royal Engineers, was shot twice by the enemy while on a mission with the Special Boat Service, on December 23, 2013.

A post-mortem examination revealed he suffered severe haemorrhaging after being shot by a lone Taliban fighter in the pelvis and left thigh.

His colleague, identified only as Officer C, gave evidence from behind a screen after the MOD made a special request to keep his identity hidden for “operational effectiveness”.

Officer C said the joint operation, between Coalition and Afghan forces, was conducted on a valley floor surrounded by 1,000m mountains along with the support of helicopter gun crews.

He said the aim of the mission was to “buy time for the Afghan government to impose or impart democracy on the Afghan nation” in the run up to a major election which was under threat from continuous high profile attacks from the Taliban.

The team was split into two groups with Capt Holloway leading one south to search a compound while Officer C led the others north to hunt for Taliban commanders.

Shots were heard shortly afterwards and Officer C made his way to the location of Captain Holloway’s detachment where the team had struggled to get behind a target.

“We had multiple engagements with this position to the point most of the enemy were dead,” he said.

“They approached with extreme caution but because of the terrain one enemy had not been killed and managed to get a blast with an AK47 he hit two men’s legs and wounded a working dog.”

“When I got to Richard I checked the pulse but could tell by the life signs that Richard had died,” he added.

“That’s when I put him over my shoulder and we took him down [from the mountain].”

He confirmed the other injured soldier has now mostly recovered following his injuries.

Officer C said he had briefed his troops before the operation and told them statistically one of the group would be killed and four would be injured.

And despite Capt Holloway’s death, he said the operation had been successful with a total of nine Taliban insurgents dead along with a suicide bomber who was due to detonate himself the following week.

He added: “Rich died with a rifle in his hand, he died doing the job that he absolutely loved and he died protecting the freedoms the Afghan people enjoyed, like the people in the UK.”

Speaking afterwards his mother, Jaquie Holloway, said: “Our son died doing a job he believed in and was totally committed to.

“Like his brothers in arms he demonstrated awesome courage and was killed trying to make the world a better place for us all.

“We are very proud of him.”