The Royal Marine from Somerset-based 40 Commando who was killed in Afghanistan this morning has been named as Corporal David O’Connor.
Corporal O'Connor and Corporal Channing Day, from 3 Medical Regiment, both died while on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.
The MoD said they were participating in a patrol with C Company, 40 Commando to conduct low level training with the Afghan Local Police.
Their patrol came under small arms fire near the village of Char Kutsa, and both were fatally injured.
Corporal O’Connor, 27, was from Havant in Hampshire, as was serving with 40 Commando Royal Marines which is based at Norton Manor Camp, near Taunton.
He joined the Royal Marines in 2002, and was serving on his third operational tour of Afghanistan with 40 Commando, having previously been deployed in 2007 and 2009.
“David’s family and friends are greatly saddened by his loss and hope to be left to grieve privately,” said Corporal O’Connor's family in a statement this evening.
The Ministry of Defence described Corporal O’Connor as an outstanding Royal Marine and an inspirational leader.
Lieutenant Colonel Matt Jackson, of 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: “This is an extremely sad time for 40 Commando Royal Marines, his friends and most of all his family.
"Corporal Dave O’Connor was one of the best; he was loved and respected by those around him and was relentless in the pursuit of excellence in his duties.
"Utterly professional, his four operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan marked him as one of the most devoted individuals in the Commando.
"Brave, committed and humorous it is difficult to find words that can possibly fill the void which has been left by this truly excellent junior commander; his loss is difficult to comprehend.
"His career was dedicated to the service of his country and to the lives of the Royal Marines with whom he served.
"The Royal Marines that he leaves behind will continue to thrive on the enthusiasm he showed in every aspect of his role but their lives will always be marred by the sadness which comes with losing a great leader, a great companion and a great friend.
“Corporal O’Connor’s loss will be mourned across the Royal Marines by those who he knew and by those who can only aspire to be in some small way like him. He was exceptional and I am immensely proud to have had the privilege of serving alongside him both here and on Op Cougar.
“He lived his life for the things he cherished the most, his friends and his family and my thoughts and prayers are with them at this very difficult time.”
Major Chris Hall said: “Corporal Dave O’Connor was a fantastic, engaging and professional man who was universally popular and highly capable in all he did.
"Dave’s cutting, self deprecating wit, easy going manner and endearing personality will never be forgotten by all those who had the privilege and pleasure to have met and worked with him.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with all his family and friends. He fell protecting his men, doing the job he loved, surrounded by those who loved him. He will never be forgotten.”
The Leader of Somerset County Council, John Osman said: “My condolences go to the family, comrades and friends of Corporal David O’Connor who served with 40 Commando with such distinction.”
“Somerset is very proud of the work of our Armed Forces and we will never forget their sacrifice.”
The Council’s flag was lowered to half mast at County Hall.
Corporal Day, 25, from Swindon, was providing medical support to 40 Commando Royal Marines and was also fatally injured.
Her family said: “Channing was bubbly, sporty, beautiful and lived her life for the Army.
"She has died doing what she lived for and in the life that she loved. She will be remembered by all who knew her as a wonderful girl who never stopped smiling and who had an infectious laugh.
"Channing played football for Northern Ireland as well as ice hockey and also gained her qualification as a ski instructor through the Army.
"She was also the Northern Ireland Gymnastics Pairs Champion. A girl who lived her life to the full without ever giving up on her dreams.
"She was a fabulous daughter, sister, granddaughter, cousin, niece and friend. She will be so sadly missed by all.”
Corporal David O’Connor and Corporal Channing Day - full tributes