Afghan blast victim was 'model soldier'

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The Independent Online

A British serviceman killed in an explosion in Afghanistan was a "model soldier", his comrades said today.

Trooper James Leverett, 20, who was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, and grew up in Sheffield and Rotherham, was in a vehicle which struck an improvised explosive device on Monday.

Lieutenant Colonel James Carr-Smith, Commanding Officer, The Royal Dragoon Guards, said: "Trooper James Leverett, known as Levy, was a Royal Dragoon Guard of significant potential.

"He had only been with the regiment for 18 months but in this short time he had more than made his mark. He was a model soldier."

Trooper Leverett, of The Royal Dragoon Guards, Viking Group, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, was due to become a father, his family said.

He was killed while on a vehicle patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province. He was helping to secure a route under construction between Lashkar Gah and Gereshk.

His family said: "James was strong-minded and determined.

"Whatever he set his mind to, he kept on trying until he achieved his goal. He was very likeable and had many friends in and out of the Army.

"He was a loving son to mum Sharon, father Neville and stepdad Tony, and loyal brother to Neville, Lewis, Jack and stepbrother Shane and, being the oldest brother, was someone that they looked up to.

"He was also the adoring boyfriend of Tiffany and proudly looking forward to the birth of his son.

"We will miss him so much and he will always be loved and remembered."

Major Denis James, Officer Commanding D (The Green Horse) Squadron, The Viking Group, described Trooper Leverett as a "man of the highest quality".

"Trooper James 'Levy' Leverett was one of life's characters," he said.

"He was great company, had a wicked sense of humour, and was totally suited to life in the regiment.

"He had been steadfast throughout our intensive training and during operations on the tour, and was an extremely tough and resilient soldier.

"He was a man of the highest quality and was to be recommended for promotion to Lance Corporal."

Captain Iain Monk, 1st Troop Leader, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, The Viking Group, said: "He would talk to me about his unborn baby and how he was looking forward to watching his child grow up. He was a friend to all and we will miss him greatly. A massive hole has been left in the troop which will never be filled."

Trooper Leverett worked as a plasterer's labourer after leaving school and joined the Army aged 18 in May 2008.

He was deployed to Afghanistan in early June.

Sergeant Scotty Dyer, 1st Troop Sergeant, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, The Viking Group, said: "I have met many people in my time in the Army, but seldom people with the ability to make fun of you, and for it always to be funny, but that was Lev all over. We all have happy memories."

Lance Corporal Liam Hudyma and Trooper Sacha Hill, 1st Troop, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, The Viking Group, said: "Lev 'the slammer' Leverett was the most straight down the line man we knew, but he would always make us smile.

"He was more than just a bit of a comedian - he was quick witted and was a 'one phrase wonder', having you in stitches for hours."

Trooper Kieran Collinson, 1st Troop, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, The Viking Group, said: "Friends come and go but Levy was more than just a friend. He is leaving Tiffany, who is pregnant with a baby. We will make sure that his child knows he was a hero."

A total of 312 British troops have died since the start of the Afghan campaign in 2001.