Funeral For Portsmouth Born Soldier

Crowds will line the streets today for the funeral of a Portsmouth born soldier killed in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.

Colour Serjeant Kevin Fortuna, from A Company, 1st Battalion The Rifles, was killed by an improvised explosive device as he led a patrol to disrupt enemy forces in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province.

His funeral takes place on 9th Juen in Colchester (where he went to school), with full military honours.

The cortege will travel up the High Street to allow members of the public to pay their respects. A private committal will take place later in the afternoon.

Speaking after his death, Lieutenant Colonel James de la Billiere, commanding officer of the Rifles, said Colour Serjeant Fortuna was an "utterly professional commander, rifleman and a man of irreproachable integrity'' .

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

He had served in the Army for 19 years, joining when he was just 16. He served in Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Reverend Joe Rooney, chaplain at Beachley Barracks where 1 Rifles are based, said:

''Kevin was really one of the life and soul guys of the party, always, always as I remember him with a smile on his face.

''I never saw Kevin without a smile - a really, really nice guy.

''He was a really good soldier and the guys looked up to him.''

Colour Serjeant Fortuna leaves behind his wife, Nia, mother, Sue, and brother, Kris. His family paid tribute:

''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.''

His death takes to 366 the number of UK military personnel killed in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion.

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