A British Army explosives specialist who became a legend by risking his life to defuse more than 60 Taliban roadside bombs was killed in Afghanistan during his final mission before he took leave, the Times of London reported Tuesday.
Staff Sergeant Olaf "Oz" Schmid, 30, died instantly Saturday when an improvised explosives device he was trying to disarm blew up.
It was his last job before a planned two-week break, his widow Christina Schmid told the newspaper.
“Oz was a phenomenal husband and loving father who was cruelly murdered on his last day before two weeks off after a relentless five-month tour," she said.
The bomb disposal expert's exploits were described as "legendary." He defused one in every 19 IEDs found by British troops since his tour in Afghanistan began last June, senior officers told the Daily Mail.
In one 24-hour operation, military officials said Schmid found and disarmed 31 roadside bombs. He deployed to Afghanistan in June, and had since then rendered 64 IEDs safe.
Shortly before his death, he had been promoted to the position of "high-threat operator" and was described by the British Ministry of Defense as having a "natural aptitude" for bomb disposal work.
Another veteran bomb specialist, Capt. Daniel Shepard, was killed in Afghanistan's Helmand Province in July, according to the Times of London.
In addition to his wife, Schmid leaves behind a 5-year-old stepson Laird, the paper reported.
“He was my best friend and soulmate," the grieving widow told the Times of London. "The pain of losing him is overwhelming. I take comfort knowing he saved countless lives with his hard work. I am so proud of him.”
Lt.-Col. Robert Thomson, the commanding officer overseeing the 2 Rifles Battle Group Schmid served with, said his bravery put him above the "best of the best."
“Under relentless IED and small arms attacks he stood taller than the tallest. I adored working with him," Thomson told the Times of London. "No matter how difficult or lethal the task which lay in front of us, he was the man who only saw solutions.”