RAF Sergeant who died in Cyprus remembered as ‘master chef’ and was online DJ sensation

Gareth Thomas   (RAF)
Gareth Thomas (RAF)

A Royal Air Force (RAF) Sergeant known for his culinary and music skills has been remembered as a “central figure” following his death of natural causes in Cyprus.

Gareth Thomas, known affectionately as Gaz, died while serving as part of a logisitics supply team that supported British forces in the Middle East. His body will be repatriated to RAF Brize Norton on Thursday.

He joined the Joint Force Support in Cyprus in March to help transport priority freight to British forces deployed in the region. He also supported the UK’s operations in Sudan and previously in Afghanistan.

Coningsby Station Commander Group Captain Billy Cooper said Mr Thomas held the logistics squadron team together.

“The thoughts of all of us at Coningsby are with Sgt Thomas’s family at this incredibly sad time. As a Station, we are a very close-knit group where real leaders and personalities come to the fore, Gaz Thomas was right at the top of that list.

“Everyone who worked with Gaz looked up to him with huge respect as somebody who was not only incredibly professional but, particularly within the Logistics Squadron, the character that held the team together - his loss is felt deeply by us all.”

Outside the job, Mr Thomas had a “brilliant sense of humour” and was a “central figure in social activities”, the RAF said in a tribute.

“Gaz was known for his culinary skills. Whenever there was a function, you would always get the best sausages and burgers as Gaz was a master chef,” the statement read.

“He fed the vast majority of his squadron during social events, without complaint. He was the true king of the barbeque.”

Squadron Leader A-J Littlefield said: “If you were to get into a conversation with Gaz, you might want to clear your diary for the next hour. Whether work or social, Gaz loved to talk, and we all loved to talk to him.”

Mr Thomas also attracted an online following for his livestreamed sets as ‘DJ Itchy’, the RAF said. He would give listeners shout outs, take requests and mix songs together thanks to his “incredible” musical knowledge.

“Ask any question about an artist or a song from any genre of music and Gaz would invariably know the answer,” the tribute said.

“It would amaze many that he could happily work away on the Squadron while listening to rave music.”

Sergeant Thomas joined the RAF in July 1997 as a regiment gunner. His first posting in January 1998 was to No 15 Sqn RAF Regiment, then a posting to 26 Sqn RAF Regiment in March 2003.

He completed an operational deployment to Afghanistan as part of the Tactical Supply Wing in 2008.

In January 2013 he received the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. A posting followed to Cyprus, Akrotiri and then in August 2016 to RAF Coningsby.

On promotion to Sergeant in February 2020 he took charge of the Repairable Management Section and was then latterly posted into the Quality and Continuous Improvement Team SNCO role.