A STRIKING portrait of hero soldier Darren Chant will forever hang in the Sergeant’s Mess of the Grenadier Guards after friends donated £10,000 to create a stunning tribute in his memory.
Warrant Officer First Class Chant was tragically gunned down by a rogue Afghan policeman in a 2009 attack which left five British troops dead.
Comrades of the top soldier, who lived in Horndean for many years, gathered at his old barracks in Aldershot yesterday to unveil the portrait and a memorial plaque dedicated to him in front of a new accommodation block.
His second wife Sheenie Chant, who was at the barracks with her and WO1 Chant’s 18-month-old son George, was moved to tears when the portrait was revealed.
She said: ‘It’s a very fitting tribute to a very great man.’
WO1 Chant, who was the Regimental Sergeant Major of the first battalion of the Grenadier Guards at the time of his death, was leading his men in training Afghan National Police at a checkpoint in Nad-e’ Ali district.
But one of the policemen he was mentoring, Gulbuddin Mohammed, went on the rampage on November 3, 2009 – shooting five soldiers dead before fleeing.
The attacker, who is thought to be a Taliban insurgent, has never been caught.
WO1 Chant’s friend Major Vince Gaunt, who led fundraising for the portrait, paid tribute to the fallen soldier yesterday.
He said: ‘He will always be with us forever. Wherever the mess moves to, we will take his portrait with us.
‘He was in a unique position as the Regimental Sergeant Major of the battalion, which is what every soldier would aspire to, and he was destined to be commissioned as an officer.
‘He was a big bear of a man and an awesomely fit soldier. He achieved great things and he was destined for great things. His loss is felt by everyone here.’
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Walker, the commanding officer of the first battalion of the Grenadier Guards, said: ‘He was cut from the original warrior mould. Physically he would fill the space and his personality would match his size. He was tough and uncompromising in his standards. He knew what was right.
‘But he also had a soft, family side which I knew well too.’
Artist Vivienne Francis was commissioned to do the portrait.
She said: ‘It’s a tremendous honour. It was a very emotional and intense experience.’