Soldier killed in Afghanistan named

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The Independent Online

A British serviceman shot dead in Afghanistan was today named by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as Fusilier Petero "Pat" Suesue.

Fusilier Suesue, of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was born in Fiji but lived in Hounslow, west London, his wife Emalaini.

He died after being shot while on foot patrol near Sangin in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, yesterday.

Fusilier Suesue's family said: "Petero epitomised the qualities of the Fijian Fusilier.

"He was strong yet gentle, compassionate and always willing to support those around him.

"His ability to include everyone is indicative of his friendly nature and there will be a large hole left in the community with his passing.

"He leaves behind a loving wife, Emalaini, his mother, Sisilia, his sister Litiana and three brothers, Taito, Varasiko and Jovesa.

"It is with great sadness that Petero will no longer be with us in body, however, he leaves behind a legacy of love and affection in the memories of all who knew and loved him."

Fusilier Suesue, who was born in Levuka, Fiji, joined the Army in 2002.

After completing his infantry training at ITC Catterick, he was posted to the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2RRF) where he joined Fire Support Company and the Anti-Tank Platoon, remaining there throughout his career.

In 2003, he deployed to Northern Ireland and was based in Girdwood, Belfast, during which time he was involved in Public Order operations.

After a short spell in mainland UK, he found himself back in Belfast with 2RRF based at Palace Barracks.

During that time he represented the Battalion at rugby and his ability on the field was recognised with a place on the Infantry Rugby team for their tour to South Africa in 2004.

In late 2005, Fusilier Suesue moved with the Battalion to Cyprus, and during the Theatre Reserve Battalion commitment, deployed from Exercise Saffron Sands in Jordan to Iraq for four months, operating from Basra Palace.

He returned in November 2006 and went back to Fiji, where he married Emalaini.

After returning to the UK, he was deployed to Kabul with Fire Support Company, but was soon needed in Sangin with C Company as an integral part of their Javelin capability.

When he returned to Cyprus, his wife Emalaini joined him in Dhekelia.

The couple moved with the Battalion back to Hounslow, west London, in March 2008.

Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Calder, Commanding Officer, said 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, had "paid a heavy price" with his death.

"However, all of us know that this is as nothing compared to the loss sustained by his wife Emalaini and his family back in Fiji.

"It is some small recompense to know that he died a brave soldier amongst friends."

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson, Commanding Officer, 2 Rifles Battle Group, said: "The loss of Fus Suesue is sorely felt across the Battle Group.

"He was a legendary soldier, awesomely tough and full of character and Pacific Island charm.

"His beloved wife, family and friends are front and centre of our thoughts and prayers at this unimaginably difficult time."

Major Jo Butterfill, Officer Commanding A Company Group, said: "Fusilier Suesue was every inch the professional infantry soldier, and a big man in all senses of the word.

"Universally respected and liked throughout the company group, with quietly irrepressible good humour and compassion, I count myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve with him.

"He was a character and we will miss him deeply.

"It is a small comfort to know that he died doing the job that he loved, amongst his friends, at the front, and in the face of the enemy.

"Our grief can be as nothing to the anguish of his loving wife and family, and my thoughts, and those of the whole company are with them at this, the worst of times."

Captain Anthony Harris, Platoon Commander, said in the three years that he had known Fusilier Suesue he had proved himself to be "a loyal soldier and steadfast Fusilier".

"Keen to support his friends and a talented rugby player, it is with greatest sense of loss that we saw this brave Fusilier lay down his life saving his friends.

"It does not surprise me to hear that Fusilier Suesue was at the front of things, he strove to protect the civilians and the soldiers around him.

"We will remember a good friend, a loyal warrior, a true Fusilier and most of all a loving husband. He will be missed but not forgotten."

Company Sergeant Major A Company Group, WO2 Wayne Caffrey, said Fusilier Suesue would be "sorely missed".

"He was a quiet, calm, professional soldier, with a can-do approach to his job.

"He was a key Battalion rugby player, a sport that he loved.

"Our thoughts go to his wife, friends and family at this very sad time."

Colour Sergeant John McCowliffe, Officer Commanding A Company Fire Support Group, who worked closely with Fusilier Suesue during an operational tour in Iraq, said: "He was an outstanding, professional soldier who had a thorough understanding of his role in my platoon.

"He was an asset, a very skilled Javelin operator, and carried out every job he was asked to do diligently and without hesitation.

"It feels like we have lost a true friend and we're thinking of his family.

"He will be missed by the lads in FSG A."

Fusilier Robert Fitzgerald, A Company Fire Support Group, said: "Fusilier Suesue was loved by everyone, and always had a smile and a positive look on his face. If you were down, he would always pick you up. Suesue would give you a hand with anything, if it was in work or in his own down time. He will be greatly missed by me, and everyone that worked with him and knew him as a friend."

Lance Corporal Michael Walsh, of A Company Fire Support Group, said Fusilier Suesue was a quiet man with a powerful presence.

"Whenever you were on duty with him you felt safe in his professional attitude to his job and his knowledge.

"He was a thoroughly professional soldier who will be sorely missed by all."

A statement from the men and women of 1 Troop, 11 Field Squadron, Royal Engineers, said: "During our time with the Fusiliers at Forward Operating Base Nolay, Fusilier Suesue (known to us as Pat) has been one of the most memorable characters we have met. Not just because of his sheer size, or the crazy moustache he was trying to grow, but also because he was one of the most pleasant and courteous members of the company.

"He always had a smile on his face, and would go to great lengths, just to be polite.

"Although we didn't know him that well, having only met him whilst serving alongside A Company, he will be sorely missed.

"Our thoughts and prayers go to his wife and family."

In a joint statement, Drummer Saimon Iroi, his best man at his wedding, and Fusilier Paula Waqakalou, a close friend from Fire Support Group B, said: "He was extremely close to his family, especially his sister and three brothers, one of whom serves with the Fijian Army.

"An exceptional and fiercely competitive rugby player from the start, he was a member of the school team that won the Fijian schools' national level Dean's Championship every year from U15 through to U19.

"He continued his rugby career in the Battalion, and both the Infantry and Army teams as both a fly-half and winger.

"A genuine, kind, generous man he was at the centre of both battalion and Fijian social life, always present with his infectious laugh, humour, and insistence on a good standard of drinking!

"He was known as a man who believed and said that 'the more you give, the more you get in return', and was viewed as a brother to many Fusiliers, especially his fellow Fijians."

Fusilier Joe Valensoro, a close friend and colleague, said: "Over the course of seven years in the British Army, Pat was involved in countless exercises, and no less than five operational deployments.

"He was a kind, generous and sociable man, who loved being part of the Javelin Pl, and relished challenges.

"He was always ready to lend a hand and get stuck into anything, however unpleasant. He was a much-liked member of the Fusiliers, Battalion wide and he was a great friend to me and many others."

Lance Corporal Wesley Tokalau, a close friend and colleague, said: "He was a friend like no other who always had time for you if you needed him and his house was always open to those that needed it.

"He was a dedicated husband to his wife Emalaini whom he adored tremendously and as a soldier he could be counted on to give his all."

Secretary of State for Defence, John Hutton MP, said: "I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Fusilier Petero "Pat" Suesue.

"I understand that he was greatly respected by everyone who met him.

"His loss will be keenly felt by all those who knew him and I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family, comrades and friends."