Private Joseva Saqanagonedau Vatubua killed in Afghanistan
It is with regret that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Private Joseva Saqanagonedau Vatubua of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 5th Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland attached to the 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment was killed in Afghanistan on 1 January 2011.
Private Vatubua deployed to Afghanistan on 21 October 2010 with B Company, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (5 SCOTS), as part of the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) Battle Group. He was based in Check Point Salaam, near Patrol Base 5, in the Nahr-e-Saraj District of Helmand Province.
On 1 January 2011 he was part of a deliberate company operation to target known enemy firing positions to the North of the village of Saidabad Kalay. At 1715hrs an explosion occurred which is assessed to be the result of an improvised explosive devise placed in the wall of a compound, which tragically killed Private Vatubua.
Private Vatubua was born on 25 February 1986 in Suva, Fiji where he grew up and attended Laucala Bay Secondary School. He joined the British Army in 2007 and successfully completed the Combat Infantryman’s Course at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick in December 2007. He was posted to B Company 5 SCOTS as a rifleman, where he has served since.
Private Vatubua quickly settled into battalion life and relished his role as a combat infantry soldier. He played a key role in all of B Company’s Mission Specific Training, including deploying on Exercise GRAND PRIX 7 in Kenya in April and May 2010. A keen rugby player who was one of the stars of the battalion team, he had recently begun representing the Army at Rugby Sevens.
Private Vatubua’s future was bright and he had already caught the eye as a young man who would rise through the ranks. He had hoped to attend a Potential Junior Non-Commissioned Officer’s Course after completing Operation HERRICK 13, where he would undoubtedly have excelled.
He leaves behind his wife Claudette.
The family of Private Joseva Vatubua said: “As a family we can’t put into words how proud we are of Joseva. He loved his job and he loved being in the family of The Royal Regiment of Scotland. Joseva was a keen rugby player and he was proud to play for the Army Sevens team.
“Joseva was also a member of the Battalion’s Fijian Choir and he has sung in Canterbury Cathedral. Joseva is a hugely loved man who we will always miss but never forget.”
Lieutenant Colonel Adam Griffiths MBE, Commanding Officer The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, said: “The Argylls 5 SCOTS have lost a loyal, well loved and respected young soldier. Pte Joseva Vatubua, known to everyone as “Big Joe”, approached everything he did with an infectious sense of humour and a commitment that much of society would do well to emulate. However, his outwardly shy persona belied a real presence both at work and play, and particularly on the rugby field!
“The Royal Regiment of Scotland has a tradition of producing courageous, resilient, tenacious and tough infantry soldiers of world renown – Big Joe was this and more. An operationally experienced soldier, he died serving alongside his fellow Argylls in a role that he relished. Fearless in battle, while empathetic to the predicament of Afghanistan and the local nationals living around his patrol base, he was at his best on operations, demonstrating a real awareness and understanding of what he was being asked to do. It was always a wonderful sight to see this mountain of a man surrounded by children when on patrol.
“Big Joe was an outstanding sportsman and a talented rugby player who had represented the British Army and his country at the highest of levels. His success did not go to his head. I have fond memories of summer evenings in 2010 throwing a rugby ball around with the “Fijian 10s” and realising very quickly how elusive he was to tackle – and more fool you if you managed to get in the way! He possessed the largest smile I think I have ever seen and this was never more evident than when he purposely kicked the ball high above the CO, knowing that the ball would still be in the air as the CO was tackled. He was mischievous and a delight to be around.
“Pte Joseva Vatubua was a strong and brave young soldier who died doing a job he loved. We have a lost a truly marvellous young man and the thoughts and prayers of the Argylls, and the wider Royal Regiment of Scotland, are with his family and loved ones at this tragic and difficult time.
Read the full Eulogy here