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7 February 2011, 07:12 | Updated: 16 February 2011, 15:17
It's been revealed a Colchester-based soldier, killed in Afghanistan at the weekend, was about to become a dad for the first time.
Company Sergeant Major Colin Beckett had been on an operation to interdict insurgents when he was hit by an improvised explosive device in Helmand Province on Saturday 5 February.
The 36 year old is the second Essex-based soldier to be killed in the country since the start of 2011.
His widow, Rachel is expecting their first child later this month and has paid tribute to her husband: "Anyone whoever met or knew Colin 'Tom' would have been touched by him in a big way and he will never be forgotten. He was a fantastic soldier, a great son, a good brother and friend and a truly special husband. My bestest friend, my soul mate, my absolute world. We love him and shall miss him so very much. May his love for life, strength, humour and strong character, live on forever in his baby girl Freya."
"He was a fantastic soldier, a great son, a good brother and friend and a truly special husband. My bestest friend, my soul mate, my absolute world. We love him and shall miss him so very much."
Lieutenant Colonel James Coates, Commanding Officer, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, said:
"Warrant Officer Class 2 Colin Beckett was one of the most talented Sergeant Majors of his generation. With a long and distinguished career spanning countless deployments and three tours in Afghanistan, he represented the very essence of a Paratrooper; professional to the core, devoted to his men and hugely respected.
"Warrant Officer Class 2 Beckett will be remembered for many reasons. Those who worked with him saw a man with humility and a natural aptitude that set him apart. He dealt superbly with his soldiers and was immensely popular with everyone he met. His sense of humour was second to none; I will never forget how he captivated the entire Sergeants' Mess during the last Summer Ball. He was a family man and a true gentleman. But most of all, to us, he will be remembered as a fellow Paratrooper and trusted friend who unconditionally gave his all in life. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Rachel, who is expecting their first child, and his wider family. "
Secretary of State for Defence Dr Liam Fox said:
"I was deeply upset to hear of the loss of Warrent Officer Class 2 Beckett. He was clearly a paratrooper with great experience, presence and ability.
"It is clear that his Company and the wider Battalion of 3PARA, where he spent so much of his service, held him in the highest regard; looking to him in every situation and will feel this loss greatly. My thoughts go to them and especially his dearly loved wife."