HE had a zest for life that was obvious to everyone.
Those were the kind words spoken by devastated friends of Corporal David O’Connor, the 27-year-old Royal Marine from Havant who died after coming under fire while on patrol in Afghanistan.
As reported yesterday, Cpl O’Connor, of Somerset-based 40 Commando, and Corporal Channing Day, who served with the 3 Medical Regiment, were on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province with Charlie Company training Afghan local police.
The patrol came under fire near the village of Char Kutsa and, during the firefight, Cpl O’Connor and Cpl Day were fatally injured.
Cpl O’Connor had been in the Royal Marines for nine years.
People in Havant were still coming to terms with the tragic news yesterday.
Cpl O’Connor was a regular at The Prince of Wales pub near his family home in West Street.
Tracie Taylor, 44, who works behind the bar, said: ‘He used to come in when he was back and they had parties when he was leaving. Everyone is still in a state of shock.
‘He was just a very bubbly, happy bloke who was out to enjoy life.
‘He used to come in for a drink and sometimes do karaoke.
‘He thought the world of his mum and dad and he was best friends with his brother.’
The family were too upset to speak to The News yesterday.
They were sent a condolence card from the mayor of Havant, Cllr Gerald Shimbart.
He said: ‘It’s a heartbreaking thing for any family to lose a loved one. I wanted to express my sympathy with them.’
More heartfelt tributes came in yesterday from his comrades. Major Chris Hall Royal Marines, Officer Commanding Charlie Company, said: ‘He wanted to lead his men and utilise his considerable experience to guide them through the next six months and leave Afghanistan a better country.
‘Dave’s cutting, self deprecating wit, easy-going manner and endearing personality will never be forgotten by all those who had the privilege and pleasure to have met and worked with him.’