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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2006, 16:46 GMT
MoD names gun death Royal Marine
Richard Watson
Richard Watson's commanding officer said he was "inspirational"
The mother of a Royal Marine killed in a gun battle with Taleban forces in Afghanistan has paid tribute to a soldier his family regarded as a hero.

Richard Watson, 23, from Caterham, Surrey, died after his unit came under attack in the Helmand province of southern Afghanistan on Tuesday.

Marine Watson, from Plymouth-based 42 Commando, was flown to Camp Bastion where he was declared dead.

"He died doing his duty amongst his beloved comrades," said Tania Watson.

"He died as a Royal Marine, he died with the love of his family within him.

"In or out of his uniform, Richard was and remains our hero - a loving son, dedicated brother and devoted boyfriend."

He had already made his mark as a natural leader and candidate for promotion
Lt Col Matt Holmes

No other servicemen were injured in the attack which happened as British forces were patrolling to the north of Now Zad, in north Helmand.

Marine Watson's mother said on Wednesday her son would have wanted her to tell his colleagues to take good care of themselves.

She said: "He was fanatically enthusiastic throughout every single day of his short life.

"He brought so much joy and happiness to our home, a home that now feels cold and empty."

His death brings the toll of British Forces personnel in Afghanistan since the start of operations in November 2001 to 43.

Marine Watson, known as Richie, joined the Royal Marines in June 2005 and was sent to Afghanistan earlier this year.

Map of Afghanistan
Marine Watson was killed after a firefight in Helmand province

His commanding officer, Lt Col Matt Holmes, said he had an infectious sense of humour and loved to play the joker, but also had a selfless and diligent work ethic and loved his job.

"Marine Watson will be sorely missed, all the more because of the man he was," he said.

"He had already made his mark within his fighting company as a natural leader and candidate for promotion.

"But he will also be remembered as a warm and passionate man who was ever cheerful, and who smiled through the hardships that he encountered, not least here on operations.."

Defence Secretary Des Browne said: "Marine Watson died while doing an exceptional job for his country and for the people of Afghanistan, and I am sure that his memory will continue to inspire his colleagues in the future."

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