Lee “Riggers” Rigby, 25, has been identified as the soldier slain yesterday in the gruesome machete terror attack in London.
Here’s what you need to know…
1. He’s Been a Soldier Since 2006
Rigby, known to his friends as “Riggers,” is a 25-year-old soldier of the 2nd Batallion of the Royal Regiment of Fusilliers. Born on July 25 in 1987 in Crumpsall, Greater Manchester, he joined the British Army in 2006 as a teenager, he trained at Catterick Garrison (pictured above) in Yorkshire.
2. He’s a Drummer
He’s a drummer in the band and is officially referred to as Drummer Lee Rigby in the ceremonial Royal Fusiliers. He joined the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, specifically the Corps of Drums, according to a Guardian report.
He was stationed in Cyprus for a period where became a machine gunner.
Once a Fusilier, always a Fusilier.
3. He Served in Afghanistan
According to the Ministry of Defence:
In April 2009, Drummer Rigby deployed on Operations for the first time to Helmand province, Afghanistan, where he served as a member of the Fire Support Group in Patrol Base Woqab. On returning to the UK he completed a second tour of public duties and then moved with the Battalion to Celle, Germany, to be held at a state of high readiness for contingency operations as part of the Small Scale Contingency Battle Group.
He spent six months there during one of the “most violent periods” in the troubled country.
Asim Hafiz, the Senior Imam to the British Army told Manchester Evening News:
I would like to offer my condolences to the family and friends of the victim of this crime. This attack was a horrific, heinous and totally unprovoked crime which has no place in Islam and the British Muslim community has unequivocally condemned it.
There are nearly a thousand Muslims serving in the Armed Forces. They are proud to serve alongside their comrades one of whom they tragically lost yesterday. The Armed Forces are about defending the United Kingdom and everyone who lives in this country – Muslim and non-Muslims.
Having worked as an Imam in the Armed Forces for eight years and spent nearly a year in Afghanistan working with the British military, I have seen firsthand the tremendous work that the British military is doing to establish peace and security. They are trying to help Afghans in partnership with other Afghans for a brighter future.
The British military is founded on good moral standards and values which are fully compatible with Islam – defending your country, establishing peace, challenging oppression and supporting other emergency situations. That is why Muslims who serve are committed to serving in the British military.
Muslim personnel make equal sacrifices alongside their comrades in the Armed Forces and I have provided support to families who have lost loved ones and those who have returned injured. The UK Armed Forces belongs to all of us as a nation and the tragic loss yesterday is a huge loss for all of us.
After returning from Afghanistan he was stationed in London at Hounslow, in west London since 2011, working as a recruiter for the army. He also guarded the palaces, serving as one of the iconic guards outside both the Tower of London and Royal Palaces.
4. Help For Heroes Donations Have Surged
Rigby was killed while wearing a “Help for Heroes” t-shirt, a military charity that strives to help injured and disabled vets. The Daily Express reports that donations have “surged” since news of Rigby’s death. The Express goes on to say that the the “Heroes” website crashed due to high-levels of traffic.
A statement on the Help For Heroes site read:
Since the tragic news emerged that a serving soldier had been murdered in Woolwich, we have been overwhelmed with people
spontaneously choosing to show their support for the Armed Forces.
Help for Heroes was born out of a simple desire to assist the wounded and that remains unchanged. All funds we receive are used to provide direct, practical support to those affected by their service to our country.
We ask all our volunteers, fundraisers and donors to respect the victim’s family, colleagues and friends who are grieving.
5. He is on the Cover of Every Friday Newspaper
— Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) May 23, 2013
6. He Was Married But Separated
Rigby was separated from his wife, Rebecca Metcalfe. They were married near Halifax in Yorkshire where Metcalfe hails from, The Daily Telegraph reports them as being “estranged.” The couple had a two year old son, Jack, Sergeant Barry Ward told the Manchester Evening News that Rigby was a “very loving father.”
The Vicar who married the couple, Vic. Guy Jamieson told Channel 4 News:
I remember his wedding well. He had already spoken to the chaplain at Catterick and came to me well prepared with lots of questions. The wedding day was wonderful, as all weddings are.
“Of course because it was a military wedding it requires a lot of preparation. I remember sitting next to Lee on the front pew before everything started and reminding him what his first words to say were. This is an absolute tragedy. When the news first came through yesterday I felt sickened
7. His Family Released a Statement
Police stand guard outside family home of Lee Rigby, murdered in Woolwich yesterday twitter.com/RachTownsendIT…
— Rachel Townsend (@RachTownsendITV) May 23, 2013
From their home in Littleton, Rochdale in Greater Manchester, which is surrounded by reporters, hiis family said:
Lee was lovely. He would do anything for anybody, he always looked after his sisters and always protected them. He took a ‘big brother’ role with everyone.
All he wanted to do from when he was a little boy, was be in the Army. He wanted to live life and enjoy himself. His family meant everything to him. He was a loving son, husband, father, brother, and uncle, and a friend to many.
We ask that our privacy be respected at this difficult time.
8. The Prime Minister Paid Tribute
Prime Minister David Cameron said “we’ve lost a brave soldier.” He gave this statement to the press around 12:40 EST today:
What happened yesterday in Woolwich has sickened us all.
On our televisions last night – and in our newspapers this morning – we have all seen images that are deeply shocking.
The people who did this were trying to divide us.
They should know: something like this will only bring us together and make us stronger.
Today our thoughts are with the victim – and with his family. They are grieving for their loved one. And we have lost a brave soldier.
This morning I have chaired a meeting of Cobra and I want to thank the police and security services for the incredible work they do to keep our country safe.
There are police investigations and security service operations under way – so obviously there is a limit on what I can say.
This was not just an attack on Britain – and on the British way of life. It was also a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country.
There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.
We will defeat violent extremism by standing together, by backing our police and security services and above all by challenging the poisonous narrative of extremism on which this violence feeds.
Britain works with our international partners to make the world safe from terrorism.
Terrorism that has taken more Muslim lives than any other religion.
It is an utter perversion of the truth to pretend anything different.
That is why there is absolutely no justification for these acts and the fault for them lies solely and purely with the sickening individuals who carried out this appalling attack.
9. His Body Was Hard to Identify
Rigby’s body was so badly mutilated by the horrific crime that it was rendered unrecognizable. The Guardian reports:
It had taken the MoD longer than it would have liked to honour Drummer Rigby because of the unusual and shocking nature of his death, and the need to protect his family, who still live in Manchester, and are now being shielded from the furore by the army.
10. He Was “Larger Than Life”
Rigby is described as “larger than life” by the Ministry of Defence:
An extremely popular and witty soldier, Drummer Rigby was a larger than life personality within the Corps of Drums and was well known, liked and respected across the Second Fusiliers.
An avid Manchester United soccer fan, he too played as a youth in for Middleton Boys.
Warrant Officer Ned Miller said:
Lee was one of the battalion’s great characters always smiling and always ready to brighten the mood”. His regimental colleague said he was easily identified by a characteristic smile, reflecting how “proud he was to be a member of the Drums. He would always stop for a chat just to tell me Manchester United would win the league again.