A British Army officer described by comrades as “the best of us” has died after being attacked while motorcycling off duty in Kenya.
Maj Kevin McCool was on a trip off base when he was attacked, the BBC reported.
A Ministry of Defence (MoD) statement said the 32-year-old died on Nov 29 but did not mention which unit he was serving with, and did not elaborate on the circumstances of his death.
It said he had “a glittering operational record” serving in the Middle East, the Falklands, Europe and Africa, and had also “aced many of the military’s hardest courses”.
Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, described the death as a “tragic loss”.
“It’s clear from the tributes of those who knew him that Maj McCool was an exceptional person and an exceptional soldier, loved and respected in equal measure, who served his country with distinction,” he said.
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said: “My heart goes out to Maj McCool’s family, friends, and fellow soldiers today in the face of their tragic loss.”
Maj McCool was commissioned from Sandhurst in August 2014 and was described as a “big family man, from a big loving family”. He leaves his parents, two brothers and three sisters.
The MoD said: “Kevin thrived in the military environment. He was at his best when deployed, and at his very best when the conditions were at their very worst.
“His fitness was legendary, once beating the whole battalion on a two miler, as was his endurance.
“His enthusiasm was infectious. He had a mischievous twinkle in his eye, that made him tremendous fun to be with. Yet his professionalism and sense of purpose was paramount, and clear to all those lucky enough to serve with him.”
‘He was at his happiest serving others’
Maj McCool’s commanding officer said: “Kevin McCool was living his best life, doing a job he loved, with people he loved.
“A man of the utmost integrity, he was fearless and oozed moral courage.
“I will never forget my final memory of him, which was on operations; he had just come off the ground having slept a handful of hours in as many days. We discussed the possibility of having to deploy another team into the operational furnace from which he had just come. He stopped me mid-sentence, fixed me with his piercing blue eyes, and simply said, ‘send me’.”
His commanding officer added: “Kevin McCool’s eyes shone with his spirit of adventure and with his focussed, determined nature.
“He was a pilgrim soul in the truest sense. Intelligent, proactive and selfless, he was at his best and at his happiest whilst serving others and whilst facing challenges ‘in the arena’.
“As a soldier, his courage and talent were proven on operations. As a leader, he had a compelling character and easy charm that all who met him warmed to. And as a man, he had a deep humility which displayed a wisdom beyond his years.
“Spotting opportunities, restless to serve and to seek out challenges, pushing himself to the frontiers, helping others; that is how we will remember him. He was the best of us.”
The British Army has a permanent training unit in Kenya, where UK troops conduct field training before deploying on operations around the world. The unit around 120 miles north of Nairobi has around 380 troops and conducts training exercises for up to six infantry battalions each year.
Kenyan troops also receive training especially to help with the fight against Islamist militants in the region.