Dad who found soldier son hanged at his Bishopston home says he lived his life for the Army
A DAD has told of the awful moment he found his soldier son hanged in his bedroom.
Trooper Robert Griffiths, who survived a bomb blast in Afghanistan last year, lived his life for the Army.
The sports-loving 24-year-old was found dead at his Bishopston home on Saturday last week, after spending a "wonderful" Christmas with his parents, brothers and cousins.
"It's devastating," said his father, Morriston Hospital consultant pathologist Paul Griffiths.
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"Absolutely devastating. When he came home, normally what he would do is chill. It was pretty full-on in the Army.
"When he came home, he had his room in the attic, where he had his computer and a small gym — he kept in very good shape.
"He would be up there. He used to read a lot as well. It was nice for him to have some space to himself.
"He went to see his cousins in Gloucester and then they came here for Christmas. It was a wonderful Christmas. We really enjoyed it."
Robert's mother, physiotherapist Mary Griffiths, flew out to Switzerland the day before her son's death. Robert had supper with his mum just before she left.
Mr Griffiths said: "The next morning I was out most of the day. Two of my sons were still in bed when I left, which was not unusual.
"When I got back I thought it odd he wasn't up. That was when we found him.
"Five minutes later, my wife's sister rang to say she (my wife) was just about to go in theatre, because she had broken her leg.
"We had the two things happen within five minutes. It has left us absolutely reeling."
Mrs Griffiths has flown home to be with her husband and sons Tom, 23, James, 20, and 18-year-old David.
Robert loved sport, including football, surfing, rock-climbing, skiing and snow-boarding.
He attended school in Bishopston, college in Gorseinon, and university in Birmingham, where he studied mechanical engineering.
But, said his family, he knew his heart was in soldiering, which had been his passion since joining the Army Cadets in West Cross at the age of 13.
"He loved the Army," said Mr Griffiths.
"He decided that was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life."
He went to Catterick to join the Parachute Regiment before transferring to the Tank Regiment a few months later, where he was nominated Best Recruit in the Phase 1 training.
Having completed that phase, he joined the Queens Dragoon Guards, also known as the Welsh Cavalry.
Robert made the most of life at the Welsh Cavalry, participating in both downhill and cross country ski championships, as well as other charity events.
He was deployed to Afghanistan in October 2011 as part of Operation Herrick 15.
Shortly after he survived an IED attack on his light tank, a Scimitar 2, and was back on patrol within 48 hours.
Mr Griffiths said: "He was shaken but seemed to come bouncing back from that."
The regiment returned from its challenging seven-month tour of Helmand Province last April.
They marched in Swansea as part of their Freedom of the City honour last May to mark their return from operations in Helmand.
On returning to the UK, his regiment also provided security for the London Olympics.
He later returned to the Queens Dragoon Guards base in Sennelager, Germany, and was on home leave for Christmas at the time of his death.
Yesterday he should have flown to Canada to spend four months maintaining and repairing tanks.
Mr Griffiths said: "At the moment we are not speculating (why he did it) because we want to speak to his regiment first.
"To be honest I don't think it will be until the inquest that we will be able to tie all this together. The police are investigating, and that whole business will be aired at the inquest.
"Hopefully, by then, we will have the opportunity to speak to the commanding officers and see if there were any issues that caused him to do this."
After a private family service at the crematorium, a service of celebration and thanksgiving for Trooper Griffiths's life will be held at the Waterfront Community Church on Friday, January 18, at 2.30pm.