Page last updated at 21:02 GMT, Sunday, 15 February 2009

Afghanistan death marine is named

Darren Smith
Marine Smith was the 144th British military casualty of the conflict

A Royal Marine killed in northern Helmand province in Afghanistan has been named by the Ministry of Defence.

Darren Smith, 27, from X-ray Company, 45 Commando, died while being flown to hospital. He had been shot in an area south west of Sangin on Saturday.

He was part of a patrol supporting a bomb disposal team. He became the 144th UK casualty since the 2001 invasion.

Marine Smith, who was from Fleetwood, Lancashire, had been based at Forward Operating Base Nolay.

'Natural talent'

An MoD statement said: "He was the epitome of a young Royal Marine; enthusiastic, hardworking, fiercely loyal to his friends and very brave. He carried the light machine gun, and was always at the front of his Troop, leading the patrol on operations against the Taleban.

"'Daz' was enormously popular with all of the other members of X-ray Company. He was a young man at the start of his career in the Royal Marines, but he already had a reputation for hard work and high professional standards. He was intelligent and trustworthy and had a natural talent that promised much for the future.

"He was a keen footballer and had trialled for Everton, Manchester City and Blackpool, but Liverpool was the team he supported. Even when he was deployed on operations he tried hard never to miss a game."

Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris Royal Marines, Commanding Officer, 45 Commando Group, said:

"The loss of Marine Daz Smith has reverberated with great sadness around 45 Commando Group. Brave, determined, modest yet fun-loving and full of life, he was always in the thick of the action whether on patrol or in his off-duty moments.

"He had an extremely bright future ahead of him and was viewed as one of the great talents in his Company."

He is the seventh British serviceman to die in Afghanistan so far this year.

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