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Afghan blast soldier was new father

A soldier who had been Mentioned In Dispatches for his bravery in Afghanistan, and who became a father just last month, has been named as the latest British military fatality in the troubled country.

Captain Rupert Bowers, 24, from the 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), was working alongside an Afghan security forces patrol when he was struck by the blast from an improvised explosive device (IED) on Wednesday.

The soldier, from Wolverhampton, had been honoured in 2008 for his bravery in Afghanistan the previous year.

He was attached to 2nd Battalion The Rifles, operating as an adviser to the Afghan National Army (ANA), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

He commanded a small team responsible for the training and development of the ANA based in Forward Operating Base Ouellette in the Mirmandab region of Nahr-e Saraj in Helmand Province.

He was leading a patrol to clear a position from the threat of insurgents when he was killed by the explosion.

Lieutenant Colonel Colin Marks, Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters), said Captain Bowers had "the heart of a lion".

He said: "The bravest of the brave, he died as he lived, leading from the front in the face of the enemy. His brother officers loved him dearly and we will remember him for his infectious smile and wicked sense of humour.

"Married to his beloved Vicky, their son Hugo was born while Rupert was home on leave in February 2012. I know he was looking forward to rejoining his family later this month when his tour was due to finish. Rest easy brother, your duty is done. You will live in our hearts forever and we will never forget you."

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "I was very saddened to learn of the death of Captain Rupert Bowers, a soldier whose bravery and professionalism was not only apparent to his colleagues every day on operations, but had been recognised formally through the honours system with his Mention In Dispatches. He died in the service of his country and his sacrifice will always be remembered."

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