Tributes paid to Gloucestershire-based soldier killed in Afghanistan

PUBLISHED: 14:13 26 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:27 20 February 2013

Tributes paid to Gloucestershire-based soldier killed in Afghanistan

Tributes paid to Gloucestershire-based soldier killed in Afghanistan

FRIENDS and family have paid moving tributes to a Cheltenham soldier killed while leading his men in Afghanistan.

FRIENDS and family have paid moving tributes to a Cheltenham soldier killed while leading his men in Afghanistan.

Former Bournside School pupil Colour Serjeant Kevin Fortuna, from Gloucestershire-based 1 Rifles, was killed by an improvised explosive device when on patrol on Monday.

His death comes less than two months after the Beachley-based battalion flew out for a six-month tour.

The 36-year-old, who joined the Army aged 16, had already been selected for promotion and was very much a star of the future, the Ministry of Defence said yesterday.

He leaves behind his wife, Nia, mother, Sue, and brother, Kris, who said in a joint statement yesterday: "Kevin was a true professional who loved his job and lived life to the full.

"He gave 19 loyal years to the Army and will be sadly missed by his wife, mother, family and friends."

Bournside head teacher Allan Foulds also paid tribute to the former pupil.

He said: "We are saddened to hear of the death of Kevin Fortuna, who left our school in 1991.

"The school extends its heartfelt sympathies to his family and friends."

The Commanding Officer of 1 Rifles, Lieutenant Colonel James de Labillire, said the fallen hero had joined the Gloucestershire Regiment in 1991 as a junior leader and deployed to Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq during his career.

He said: "Colour Serjeant Fortuna was an utterly professional commander, Rifleman and a man of irreproachable integrity. His presence strengthened the battalion and the loss with his passing will be acute.

"He was remarkable for many reasons, not least his complete and unwavering commitment to his Riflemen and their care.

"He was restless until he had achieved the very best for them and encouraged them to be restless until they achieved the very best for themselves.

He added: "He was a master-tactician, and a soldier of great experience. He was to be a Company Serjeant Major in just three months.

"I will never forget him and nor will 1 Rifles.

"I relied often on his considered and impeccable judgement. And on his humour and sense of fun."

Major Bill Eden, who grew up in Leckhampton, knew Colour Serjeant Fortuna well. He said: "Kev was one of the best and we will miss him terribly. Our thoughts and prayers are of course with his beloved wife and family."

Major Carl Boswell, Officer Commanding A Company, 1 Rifles, said Colour Serjeant Fortuna was the finest of Riflemen and a good friend.

"His energy and enthusiasm for life were infectious and endless, his modesty humbling, and his resourcefulness inspiring," he said.

"His core inner strength and confidence enabled an air of invulnerability. Nothing was too much for him in both caring and understanding the needs of his Riflemen and ensuring mission success.

"But whether for his beloved wife Nia or for his fellow Riflemen, his first priority was to care for others.

"He was easy going, relaxed, yet hard working and professional, and had a waterproof smile that kept others going when things got tough."

Warrant Officer Class 2 John Greening, Mortar Platoon Second in Command, 1 Rifles, added: "Kev was a friend of more years than I remember. When you think of words like leader, inspiration, professional, they don't do him justice. Kev was one of the very, very best."

Colour Serjeant Fortuna was killed in Helmand province as he led a patrol to disrupt enemy forces.

He was deployed to Afghanistan last month with Machine Gun Platoon, A Company, and was in command of 12 Riflemen.

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