Marine killed in Afghan blast 'a perfectionist'

A British Marine who was killed in an explosion in Afghanistan was a "perfectionist" who prided himself on being the best, his widow said today.

Corporal Stephen Curley, 26, from 40 Commando Royal Marines, died while on foot patrol in Helmand on Wednesday.

He was married to Kirianne and had a five-month-old son called William.

His widow said: "It is impossible for me to express what my husband meant to me, Daddy to our 18-week-old son William and my partner in crime, Stevie was my purpose, what makes me tick.

"A man of few but powerful words when it mattered, he lived by the motto 'If you're not living life on the edge, you're taking up too much room'. This will be forever imprinted on our hearts.

"Stevie was a perfectionist - he prided himself on being the best and the best he was.

"Steve loved to make people laugh and laugh with them.

"Stevie was a quietly proud man, proud to be a Royal, proud to be my husband and proud to be a Daddy."

Born in Dewsbury, west Yorkshire, Cpl Curley lived with his family in Exeter, Devon.

He had previously served in Iraq as well as another tour of Afghanistan in 2006 before returning there in March, according to the MoD.

A keen runner and climber with a taste for cold weather warfare, Cpl Curley qualified as a Mountain Leader in April 2009 following an arduous nine-month course.

Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, Commanding Officer 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin said: "Corporal Stephen Curley was the very best of his generation; bright, fit, charismatic and supremely brave, he was a man who genuinely inspired others.

"I saw in him a selfless, loyal, utterly dedicated and natural leader of men.

"His sharp wit knew few limits, particularly in the gymnasium where he reigned supreme, with both the RSM and I regularly in the firing line.

"As a marine he was professionally unrivalled - a mountain leader, a consummate tactician and a brilliant section commander who cared passionately for his men."

Major Ed Moorhouse, Officer Commanding Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said Cpl Curley was "irreplaceable".

"He was the most consummate of all-round professionals and a man who I can proudly say that I have had the immense privilege to have commanded and worked alongside," he said.

According to Sergeant Danny "Smudger" Smith, Troop Sergeant, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, Cpl Curley was someone to look to for advice.

He said: "As a Troop Sergeant, you are expected to be the man the guys look to for advice, so why did I always find myself looking to Steve?

"Steve was unbelievably good at what he did and without fail he always managed to make the right choice.

"The tragic loss of our closest brother has left an immense hole in a very tight Troop."

Lance Corporal Luke Metcalfe, Section Second-in-Command, 7 Troop, Charlie Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, added: "As a section second-in-command, Steve was someone I looked up to through his professionalism, the way he dealt with situations and just his general jokey character.

"There is now a massive gap in 7 Troop, as a Section Commander and a friend.

"Even though for much of the time you could just hear his ridiculous northern accent and jokes, he always made sense to me and I learnt from him continuously.

"I'll miss our nights out in Taunton, and our flat in Norton Manor Camp will never be the same again."

Cpl Curley died on the same day as another British soldier lost his life in a separate incident.

Colleagues of Gunner Zak Cusack, 20, described him as "friend in a million" after he was gunned down in a firefight with the Taliban in Helmand province.

Gunner Cusack, of 4th Regiment Royal Artillery, from Stoke on Trent, died of a gunshot wound.

His family released a statement reading: "Zak was a courageous, compassionate and charismatic young man. We are justly proud of not only the job that he did, but of the complete person we all knew and loved.

"For such a young man, Zak's infectious sense of humour, appetite for life and truly romantic heart inspired so many others.

"Zak's loss leaves a hole in our hearts, a chasm in our lives and many, many other broken hearts behind. He had a fire in his soul that will burn brightly in all our memories. He is our beautiful boy, loving son and best friend, in Zak's own words, 'he is a ledge' (Legend)."

The number of British troops who have died in operations in Afghanistan since the mission began in 2001 is 288.

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