A British soldier described as "one of the best of his generation" will be laid to rest today after he was killed in a suicide blast while on patrol in Afghanistan.
Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Ian Fisher from The 3rd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Staffords) died following an explosion on the final day of a two-day operation to disrupt insurgent activity in Helmand province last month.
He leaves his wife Emma, sons James and William, and his parents Simon and Helen.
Mourners will gather at Lichfield Cathedral in Staffordshire to pay their respects.
On November 5 WO2 Fisher, 42, who worked as a sergeant major for a company of Warrior fighting vehicles, was meeting Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) near Kamparak, 25 miles north east of the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, when his vehicle was struck by a improvised explosive device carried in a suicide vehicle.
He was evacuated by air to the military hospital at Camp Bastion where it was confirmed that he had been killed in action.
The physics and geology graduate, who was born in Barking, Essex, and joined the Territorial Army in February 1993 with B Company, 3 Staffords, based in Stoke-on-Trent, was "the epitome of an infantry sergeant major", his colleagues said.
After completing his degree at Staffordshire University, and following three and a half years' service as a reservist lance corporal, he volunteered to go to Hong Kong in August 1996 as a regular private with B Company, 1st Battalion The Staffordshire Regiment (Prince of Wales's).
He completed four previous operational tours from 1999 - once to Northern Ireland, twice to Iraq and a previous tour of Afghanistan in 2011.
Lieutenant Colonel Chris Davies, commanding officer, The 3rd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Staffords), said: ''To lose a soldier in combat is a tragedy that hits any unit hard but to lose a warrant officer of WO2 Ian Fisher's calibre and standing in such a tight-knit family regiment is a huge blow that has left the whole battalion numb.
''Qualified in both light role and armoured infantry, it was his expertise on Warrior fighting vehicles that set WO2 Fisher apart from his peers and for which he was widely respected as one of the best of his generation across the Army."