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Killed Gurkha had followed father

A soldier killed in Afghanistan at the weekend had followed in his father and brother's footsteps by becoming a Gurkha, his family said.

Rifleman Vijay Rai, from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, died after the checkpoint he was guarding in the Nahr-e Saraj region of Helmand province was attacked with small arms fire on Saturday.

The 21-year-old was the youngest of five and had followed his father and brother as they both served as Indian Gurkhas, while his middle brother is still serving with Indian Gurkhas as a sergeant, his family said.

In a statement issued through the Ministry of Defence, his family revealed he had phoned them the day before he died.

It said: "He followed his father's and brother's footsteps as his father and elder brother served as Indian Gurkhas and his middle brother is serving with Indian Gurkhas as a sergeant.

"He rang his family a day before he was taken away from us. He was very proud to be a Gurkha, and died doing his chosen job. His father and family members are very proud of him."

A gifted sportsman, Rifleman Rai was born in Bhojpur District, Deaurali in the East of Nepal. After his education, he wanted to continue his family history of military service and after passing Gurkha Selection was enlisted into the British Army in December 2008, aged 18.

Colleagues paid tribute to the 21-year-old, speaking of his desire to follow his family military tradition.

Lieutenant Colonel Fraser Rea, Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, said: "Rifleman Vijay was tough, loyal, uncomplaining and utterly professional. He had a ready smile, a big heart and loved his sport and music.

"He was a talented young man with vast amounts of promise. Although only two years into his own military career, he had established himself as a leader amongst his own peer group and on the sports pitch, where he excelled."


From Belfast Telegraph