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Comrades and family mourn 'a true soldier'
The repatriation will take place tomorrow of Guardsman Michael Roland, a father of baby twins, who was killed less than a month after arriving in Afghanistan.
Guardsman Roland, 22, from Worthing in Sussex, was shot by insurgents last Friday.
A Rifleman in 3 Platoon, part of the Queen's Company Grenadier Guards, he was based in Main Operating Base Price near Gereshk in the Nahr-e Saraj (North) district of Helmand Province.
On April 26 he was deployed with his company on a three-day operation to disrupt insurgent activity in a contested area in the north of Nahr-e Saraj district.
The next morning he was fatally wounded during an exchange of small arms fire.
Guardsman Roland was taken back to the hospital in Camp Bastion, but died of his injuries.
He had arrived in Afghanistan for his second tour of duty in early April and leaves behind a girlfriend, baby twins and a large extended family. In a statement they said: “Michael was a loving and caring son, loved by his huge extended family and friends who are devastated by their loss.
“We are still coming to terms with losing him.
“Michael always wanted to join the Army and was so proud to be part of the Queen’s Company Grenadier Guards. Michael loved us all so much; with us he was not big and tough, just gentle. We will miss him so much.”
Lance Sergeant Mooney, section commander of the Queen’s Company, paid tribute to his courage.
He said: “Guardsman Rolandknew he would be at the front of patrols and searching compounds. Even knowing the tasks he would be given would place him in danger, he never complained or even mentioned it.
“Everything he did, he did to the best of his ability. A true soldier who will be missed.”
Lieutenant Colonel James Bowder, commanding officer of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, said Guardsman Roland’s death would not be in vain.
He said: “We are all extremely proud of Guardsman Roland’s selfless commitment to this important mission.
“Moreover, we are resolved to finish the job that he so bravely started.”
Guardsman Roland’s body will arrive at RAF Brize Norton at about 1.30pm tomorrow.
The cortege will then make its way to Carterton, where it will pause at the town’s Memorial Garden.
Town mayor Norman MacRae will host members of the dead soldier’s family at the garden.
He said: “Whatever the weather, people will come to pay their respects.”
The cortege will then make its way to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital, arriving at about 4.30pm, passing Royal British Legion members and the public in Headley Way, Headington.