Today, 6 February, marks the 50th anniversary of the first soldier to be killed by a direct terrorist action during the Northern Ireland Troubles.
Aged just 20 and a member of The Royal Artillery, Gunner Robert Curtis was shot dead by an IRA sniper while on foot patrol in the New Lodge area of Belfast.
Reflecting on the anniversary, the NI Veterans Commissioner, Danny Kinahan said: “Sadly, he was the first of more than 700 members of the Armed Forces to be killed as a result of terrorist activity during Operation Banner.
“I am forever grateful for those members of our security forces, whether military, police, prison service or others who gave their lives protecting the wider community from the horrific activities of terrorists.
“As well as those who lost their lives, we must also remember the many who were maimed and injured as a result of the terrorist campaign. All too often, families were left devastated – some with life-changing physical, mental and emotional injuries.
“Since becoming Commissioner, many veterans have told me that they just want to be respected and remembered for the remarkable contribution they made to upholding law and order during the Troubles. They are dismayed and wearied by what they see as a rewriting of history.
“As I told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee earlier this week, I will do all I can at a political level to challenge attempts to vilify our veterans and armed forces.
“I will work to ensure that veterans are treated with the respect they deserve. They bore the brunt of terrorism and all its horrors – and did so on behalf of us all.
“Today, we rightly pause to remember the family and comrades of Gunner Robert Curtis. Lest we forget.”