Valerie Steve Winwood
11 January 2011, 06:33
The family of a British soldier originally from Fiji who died in an explosion in southern Afghanistan paid tribute to him saying he was ``a hugely loved man'
24 year old Private Joseva Saqanagonedau Vatubua, originally from Fiji, from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, was killed near the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province.
On 1 January 2011 he was part of a deliberate company operation to target known enemy firing positions to the North of the village of Saidabad Kalay. At 1715hrs an explosion occurred which is assessed to be the result of an improvised explosive devise placed in the wall of a compound, which tragically killed Private Vatubua.
His body will be flown to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire today where a private service will be held before a cortege passes through the nearby town of Wootton Bassett.
Hundreds of local people and members of the Royal British Legion will join his friends and family to pay their last respects.
Pte Vatubua had intended to renew his marriage vows and leaves behind his wife Claudette.
In a statement released through the Ministry of Defence, his relatives said: ``As a family we can't put into words how proud we are of Joseva.
``He loved his job and he loved being in the family of The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
``Joseva was a keen rugby player and he was proud to play for the Army Sevens team.
``Joseva was also a member of the Battalion's Fijian Choir and he has sung in Canterbury Cathedral.
``Joseva is a hugely loved man who we will always miss but never forget.''
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Harrison MBE, Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment Battlegroup, said:
"Pte Vatubua was a son of Suva, a Fijian legend, a proud, adopted Jock and a warrior of fearsome repute.
"His scale was colossal; he dominated the front row, dwarfed his machine gun and delivered fiery, martial passion in abundance. But for most of the time he was understated, calm and simply kind. Pte Joe Vatubua; the epitome of generosity, a loved and revered husband, father and friend.