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'You were the best dad': Family pays tribute to soldier killed in Afghanistan

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The children of a soldier killed by enemy mortar fire in Afghanistan have paid a touching tribute to their father saying: "We wish yesterday had never happened."

Corporal Andrew Roberts, 32, died on Friday alongside Private Ratu Manasa Silibaravi in the northern part of Nahr-e-Saraj district in Helmand province.

Friends and relatives hailed their bravery as bosses said they "undoubtedly" saved the lives of both Afghans and fellow servicemen.

Corporal Roberts' children Jessica, six, Kyle, five and Kayla, three, said: "For our brave Dad who went away to build sandcastles and stop the bad men hurting people. We love you to the moon and back.

"You are an angel in Heaven now looking down on us all, we wish yesterday had never happened and you were still here to phone us and take us out.

"You were the best Dad, we remember all the fun things we did, we will never forget you and will love you forever. You are our Hero and we will pray for you always."

The soldiers, from the Royal Logistic Corps, were attached to 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh Battlegroup when they were caught in an indirect fire attack on Forward Operating Base Ouellette.

Cpl Roberts' girlfriend, mother-of-one Paula Ewers, said: "Andrew truly was a hero and I'm so proud of what he achieved, he was such a special, kind and caring person.

"I was blessed to have spent the past two and a half years with Andrew.

"He made me and my son Josh so happy. I have lost my soul mate and my best friend. The memories I have of our time together I will hold in my heart forever. Sweet dreams my hero all my love always."

Corporal Roberts, who was born in Middlesbrough, was on his second tour of Afghanistan and had served on operations in Bosnia and Iraq.

The Section Commander in 23 Pioneer Regiment The Royal Logistic Corps was responsible for leading a team trying to detect Improvised Explosive Devices in high risk areas.

"Corporal Roberts not only facilitated freedom of movement for International Security Assistance Forces and Afghan National Security Forces, but also undoubtedly saved the lives of both Afghans and International personnel," the Ministry of Defence said.

Besides his girlfriend and children, he also leaves behind his parents, Pauline and Stephen, and his brothers and sisters, Tracey, Mark, Darren, Michael and Emma.

He was praised by colleagues as a "talented Junior Non Commissioned Officer" with a "cheeky grin" who was "one of their finest" of his squadron.

His colleague Fiji-born Private Silibaravi, also 32, was commended as a "quiet, yet determined and popular soldier".

The serviceman, who leaves behind his parents, Meli and Merewalesi, his brother Saimoni, and sister Mereoni, was new to the specialist role of Advanced Searcher. His job also involved working to detect make-shift bombs.

Lieutenant Colonel Simon Bell, Commanding Officer Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search Task Force, said: "A quiet, yet determined and popular soldier, Private Silibaravi was a professional and committed individual.

"Strong and fit, he had an excellent work ethic, throwing himself wholeheartedly at every challenge. The number of operational tours that he had successfully completed is testament to his dedication and professionalism."

PA

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