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Tributes Paid To Soldier Killed In Helmand

Family and colleagues of Guardsman Michael Roland of 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards have paid tribute to "a terrific soldier with a bright future" after he was shot dead in Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defence said Guardsman Roland had died on Friday in Helmand province's Camp Bastion after being injured in an exchange of small arms fire while on patrol.

He was on a three-day operation to disrupt insurgent activity in Nahr-e-Saraj when he was fatally wounded.

Lieutenant Colonel James Bowder MBE, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards , said: "Guardsman Roland's death is a tremendous loss to a close battalion. Sparky, diligent and super-fit, he was a terrific soldier with a bright future.

"That he achieved so much in his short life is testament to his drive and ambition. He was an absolute pleasure to command and will be missed hugely by the battalion and the regimental family as a whole.

"Our prayers are with his baby twins, his parents, girlfriend and broader family; we share their great sense of loss and will never forget this most extraordinary of Guardsmen."

In a statement his family 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 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."

Those who served alongside him described Guardsman Roland as someone who led from the front and conducted hismelf with a sense of humour and without complaining.

Major Piers Ashfield, the captain of The Queen's Company, said: "His stoic devotion to duty and the generous friendship he offered to all those he met epitomised the man for whom no hardship was worthy of complaint.

"Guardsman Roland leaves behind a Company who will continue to cherish memories of shared laughter and happiness."

Lieutenant Alex Budge, Platoon Commander, 3 Platoon, said: "Guardsman Roland epitomised a Grenadier Guardsman. Fit, tenacious and a character; he was liked by all for his sense of humour and respected by all for his skill as an infantry soldier."

Lance Sergeant Mooney, Section Commander, The Queen's Company, said: "He knew 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 for that matter.

"He was an integral part of the team and the platoon. He will be sorely missed by all members of The Queen's Company. Gone, but never forgotten."

The battalion deployed to Helmand as part of Operation Herrick 16 and is scheduled to return to Britain in the autumn.

The army said Operation Herrick 16 was designed to "push back" the Taliban.