Operations in Afghanistan

Corporal Taniela Tolevu Rogoiruwai and Kingsman Ponipate Tagitaginimoce killed in Afghanistan

It is with sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Corporal Taniela Tolevu Rogoiruwai and Kingsman Ponipate Tagitaginimoce from 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment (1 LANCS), serving as part of Combined Force Nad'Ali, were killed in seperate incidents in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, 15 June 2010.

Corporal Taniela Tolevu Rogoiruwai and Kingsman Ponipate Tagitaginimoce
Corporal Taniela Tolevu Rogoiruwai and Kingsman Ponipate Tagitaginimoce [Picture: via MOD]

Corporal Rogoiruwai was killed in action during a fire-fight with insurgent forces on 15 June 2010 whilst carrying out a patrol to improve security and increase the freedom of movement for local people in Northern Nad ‘Ali, Helmand Province.

As part of a Battlegroup operation to improve security in an area in the Nad ‘Ali District of Helmand Province known for a high level of insurgent activity on 15 June 2010, Kingsman Tagitaginimoce was killed in action during an exchange of fire with insurgents whilst trying to better the lives of ordinary Afghans.

Corporal Taniela Tolevu Rogoiruwai

Corporal Taniela Tolevu Rogoiruwai
Corporal Taniela Tolevu Rogoiruwai [Picture: via MOD]

Corporal Taniela Tolevu Rogoiruwai, known to all as’Rocco’, was born in Nausori, in Fiji, on 23 January 1978. He joined the Army in July 2000, initially serving with the 1st Battalion, The King’s Own Royal Border Regiment before its amalgamation on 1 July 2006.

Throughout his time in the Army he served with distinction, on numerous operations including Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was a highly experienced and dedicated Junior Non Commissioned Officer - one who excelled when in command.

He had a tough yet compassionate style and was destined to do well in an environment that he loved. Just before deploying to Afghanistan, he attended and achieved a strong pass on the Platoon Sergeant’s Battle Course and he was on course to promote to Sergeant in the near future.

Corporal Rogoiruwai relished being in the Army. He possessed loyalty’in spades’ and he had an absolute dedication to the Regiment, to the Battalion, to his Company and to the men he served with. He was quietly confident - a man who did not speak unless he had something important to say.

He had a ready smile, a wonderful sense of humour and a grin that reached from one side of his face to other. He was well known and respected across the Battalion as a soldier and as a friend.

He was a strong family man, proud of his heritage and fiercely protective of his wife, Olivia and his young son, Maciu. He loved them dearly. He was also an accomplished and talented sportsman, representing British Army Cyprus at his beloved rugby and the Battalion on numerous occasions at Bobsleigh.

Corporal Rogoiruwai deployed to Afghanistan as a Section Commander with 1 Platoon, Anzio Company, 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment in March 2010.

The soldiers of Anzio Company have undoubtedly improved the lives of hundreds of local Afghans during their 3 months in Nad ‘Ali by conducting frequent joint security and reassurance patrols with their Afghan National Army colleagues.

Tragically killed doing the job that he loved, and excelled at, he will leave a huge hole which will be very difficult to fill. He will be sorely missed by all members of the Battalion as a comrade and as a much loved friend.

The family of Corporal Taniela Tolevu Rogoiruwai have made the following statement:

Dan was such a loving husband who dedicated his life to his work and especially his family. He will be sorely missed by his friends, workmates and especially by his wife and three-year-old son, Matthew.

You will always be remembered in our hearts, Daddy. Rest in peace Dan Rogoiruwai.

Lieutenant Colonel Frazer Lawrence OBE, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment said:

I am greatly saddened by the death of Corporal’Rocco’ Rogoiruwai. He was an outstanding soldier and a very talented Junior Non Commissioned Officer - tough and stoic, but with an infectious smile and a mischievous sense of humour.

His performance in Afghanistan was outstanding. He led from the front, set the best of examples for others to follow and he put everyone before himself. He loved the Army, his Regiment and his fellow soldiers. But, most of all he loved his wife and his young son.

Rocco was one of life’s leaders - a natural commander - who gave confidence to those around him. He was decent, honest and loyal - a real character.

A man who saw black and white, who knew right from wrong and who possessed selfless commitment. He was a soldier who could always be trusted. He is a friend who will be sorely missed by me and all members of the Battalion. He was a’Lion’ of a man - a’Lion of England’ and he will not be forgotten.

We mourn the loss of Corporal Rocco and we offer our deepest condolences to Olivia and to all of Rocco’s family - our thoughts are with them.

Major Jon Fry, Officer Commanding Anzio Company, 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment said:

Corporal ‘Rocco’ Rogoiruwai was a Section Commander in Anzio Company, 1st Battalion the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment. He was one of the great characters of the Company, professionally and socially; in short the life and soul. He was tragically killed in action on 15 June 2010 doing what he did best, leading his men.

Corporal Rocco originally joined Chindit Company, the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, where he served in Cyprus, Northern Ireland and Iraq. After the formation of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment he became a member of Anzio Company in the 1st Battalion and served again in Iraq during Op TELIC 11.

During Pre Deployment Training for Afghanistan as part of Op HERRICK 12 he went from strength to strength and demonstrated his ability as a commander. During our tour he commanded his men in a number of dangerous and challenging situations; he never faltered and always led from the front.

He was a fiercely brave and proud man who stood by his mates whatever the circumstance. Having known him for a number of years, I will remember him for his courageous, proud, loyal and fun personality, not to mention his immense strength, faith and love of rugby.

He was always a great man to have around, be it in the field or on a night out. The Company will not be the same without him.

Whilst out here in Afghanistan it is hard enough for us to come to terms with our loss however, our thoughts must be with his wife and son at this tragic time.

We cannot even begin to understand what they are going through, we are thinking of them both. They should however, be extremely proud of this man who was a loving father, husband and a fine Anzio soldier. He is sorely missed.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Rodge ‘Mooch’ Moore, Company Sergeant Major, Anzio Company, 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment said:

I have been lucky enough to know Rocco since the first day he joined the battalion in 2000. I was his Section Commander and we instantly formed a close relationship. He had a fantastic sense of humour and supported Sunderland merely because I supported Middlesbrough, just to wind me up. That was the sort of man he was.

Corporal Rogoiruwai was an outstanding rugby player who was fiercely competitive. Off the field he was a man with a big, soft heart. When he first met my wife and daughter in Cyprus, who at the time was only six months old, he decided to take them out for a walk feeding them ice cream and kept calling my daughter’Little Mooch’.

To this day he always asked about how Little Mooch was doing and reminded me of the day he bought her ice cream; Aimee is now eight years old.

As a soldier he was an extremely fit and enthusiastic Section Commander. He led from the front and his soldiers and subordinates always looked up to him. He was one of the characters of the Company who was both respected and loved. His loyalty was unquestionable and he was proud to be an Anzio soldier. Anzio Company has lost one of its finest.

My thoughts are foremost with his wife and son, family and friends and particularly the Fijian community within the Battalion who have always been and remain a tightly-knit group.

He will be sorely missed by both myself, my family and Anzio Company. Corporal Rocco was a good man, a good friend and a good soldier. God Bless Rocco’Laa’. Rest in peace. Never forgotten.

Corporal Peter Cakaunitabua, Section Commander, Anzio Company, 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment said:

Corporal ‘Rocco’ Rogoiruwai was a very hard working soldier who loved his job, his family and friends. He was a morale finder to the lads that he worked with and pushed people to the best of their ability, which enabled them to be successful in life.

He was a very fit soldier and had a determination to do the job to the very best of his ability. He was a disciplined soldier that was proud of his Regiment. Loyal to his family and friends. His wisdom, knowledge and understanding made him a good leader in his work and a great dad and loyal husband. We will miss him.

Kingsman Filimone Matanibukalevu, Helles Company, 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment said:

I joined the Army with Rocco in 2000 and went through training together in Catterick. He was a true friend. Nothing was ever too much trouble. He was a great man who was an inspiration to those around him - a true Fijiian. I still cannot get over his love of Sunderland FC!

He has the most beautiful son, who I know will be proud of his father when he grows up. My thoughts are with his wife and family.

Kingsman Ponipate Tagitaginimoce

Kingsman Ponipate Tagitaginimoce
Kingsman Ponipate Tagitaginimoce [Picture: via MOD]

Kingsman Ponipate Tagitaginimoce was born in Nausori, in Fiji, on 24 November 1980. He joined the Army in March 2005, initially serving with the 1st Battalion, The King’s Own Royal Border Regiment before its amalgamation on 1 July 2006. Throughout his time in the Army, Kingsman Tagitaginimoce served with distinction, including several operational deployments to Iraq.

He was an exceptional soldier, one who thrived in any environment and who was professional to his very core. Experienced, with real dedication to duty and with strong moral values, he was the epitome of a Kingsman - ready to do his duty, to set the best of examples, to put others before himself and with a smile never far from his lips.

Kingsman Tagitaginimoce had only been in the Reconnaissance Platoon for a short period of time, but he had already quickly established himself as an integral, and highly popular, member of the Platoon. His professional skills and tactical knowledge were second to none and he enjoyed the challenges that life in the Battalion’s most respected, and physically, demanding role brought.

A quiet and thoughtful soldier, Kingsman Tagitaginimoce was an immensely loyal and honourable individual. He was a man whose family and friends meant everything to him. He was a highly accomplished and very talented rugby player; his love and passion for the game well known by all. An outstanding soldier, a gifted sportsman who was at his happiest when with his family.

Kingsman Tagitaginimoce deployed to Afghanistan in March 2010 with the Reconnaissance Platoon, 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment. In the 3 months since arriving in Helmand, the Platoon has undertaken numerous joint security operations with the Afghan National Security Forces in support of the local nationals of Nad ‘Ali.

Tragically killed doing the job that he loved, Kingsman Tagitaginimoce will be sorely missed by all within the Battalion - there are few like him.

The Wife of Kingsman Ponipate Tagitaginimoce, made the following statement:

A loving husband and a wonderful father who will be deeply missed. Love always, Laisani.

Lieutenant Colonel Frazer Lawrence OBE, Commanding Officer 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment said:

Kingsman ‘Tagi’ Tagitaginimoce was an outstanding soldier and a great friend to many within the Battalion. He died during an attempt to aid one of his comrades. This comes as no surprise as he was an exceptional soldier whose first thought was always for those around him, never himself.

He epitomised the qualities of a Fijian Kingsman - strong yet gentle, compassionate, principled and honourable, and with a real sense of right and wrong.

Tagi’s performance as a member of the Reconnaissance Platoon in Afghanistan was exemplary - he worked tirelessly for the good of his platoon, the first to volunteer for tasks and always the first to help others.

Tagi was softly spoken, unassuming and utterly reliable. His sheer presence calmed those around him and made light any dark period - his good cheer was infectious.

Tagi’s death leaves a huge hole in the Battlegroup - the cost is high and painful to all who knew him. He will be long remembered for his love of life, his unwavering loyalty and his comradeship in its purest form.

But, most importantly he will be remembered for his dedication and devotion to his loved ones - his wife, children and immediate family meant everything to him.

The whole Battlegroup mourns the loss of Tagi and offers its deepest condolences to Laisani and to all of his family in this dark time - our prayers are with them.

No one epitomised the spirit of the Battalion more than Tagi - he was a ‘Lion’ of a man, he was a ‘Lion of England’. We will never forget him.

Major Darren Newman, Officer Commanding Somme Company, 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment said:

Kingsman ‘Tagi’ Tagitaginimoce was a quiet, gentle man with a dry sense of humour. He was a professional and dedicated soldier who was well liked and respected across the Battalion. Tagi had many friends which was testament to his warm, approachable manner.

He would always go out of his way to help others, particularly those soldiers who were new to the Company.

Tagi was extremely impressive during Op TELIC 11 in Iraq where his high level of field skills and leadership stood out and ultimately led to his selection to join the Reconnaissance Platoon. This small platoon is a tight-knit, highly professional unit who take great pride in being the best soldiers in the Battalion. He died amongst friends.

A keen rugby player, he represented Corunna Company and the Battalion on numerous occasions and displayed the same courage and determination on the sports field as his did on operations.

He was a devoted husband to Laisani and exceptionally proud of his three children Taniela, Ponipate and Saiasi. Tagi is irreplaceable. He will never be forgotten and will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his young family.

Captain Mark Saunders, Reconnaissance Platoon Commander, 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment said:

Kingsman Tagitaginimoce was a consummate professional, diligent, hard working and quietly confident, with a keen sense of humour. He was the epitome of a Recce soldier - someone younger soldiers could aspire to be. He touched the lives of everyone he met and truly reflected the values of the British Army - Loyalty, Courage, Selfless Commitment, Discipline and Integrity.

I will remember most fondly his ability to make light of even the darkest situations and his unfaltering ability to motivate, inspire and calm those in his company whenever the situation required it. His death leaves a hole in the Recce Platoon that will be difficult to fill.

Colour Sergeant Richard Shipton, Second-in-Command Reconnaissance Platoon, 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment said:

Kingsman ‘Tagi’ Tagitaginimoce has been with the platoon since the start of our pre-deployment training, starting with the Light Role Recce course run by the Recce Division in Warminster.

The course is one of the most demanding within the Infantry and he came back with a strong pass. Since then he has been a strong and well respected member of the Platoon by all ranks.

Tagi was an incredibly professional and competent soldier with a gentle nature. Although quiet he had a strong sense of humour and mixed well within the Platoon - he will be sorely missed by all.

During the tour his performance has been fantastic. He was always ready for any task or timeline and always a volunteer. He never once complained at any task given, even when those around were not so forthcoming.

Since Tagi came to the Platoon he has been a pleasure to work with, and his hard work and humour will be missed. Rest in Peace mate.

Kingsman Vilikesa Tuvutoka, Reconnaissance Platoon, Somme Company, 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment said:

Tagi was a true friend - the best one anyone could wish for. He loved to help people and was like an older brother to Fijians joining the Battalion, always willing to help and support.

He loved his job and he loved rugby. But, most importantly he loved his family - his beautiful wife and children. No one can replace him and he will never be forgotten by me or any of the Fijians. Tagi was a hero.

Kingsman Jonathon Jenkins, Somme Company, 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, said:

Tagi was a really good friend and colleague. When I first got to the Battalion he looked after me and was like a brother. No matter what people said he was always there for me. The things I will miss the most about him are his dry sense of humour and his rugby skills - he was an amazing player. He always took time to talk to you no matter what.

He was a brilliant dad and husband and his family will be very proud of him. I only got to know Tagi in Catterick but he will be sadly missed. No matter what time it was, day or night, he would always be there for you. I will miss him loads, he was the best friend anyone could have or ask for. He will always be remembered in my soul and always be there in my thoughts.

Defene Secretary Dr Liam Fox said:

I extend my deepest sympathies to the families of Corporal Taniela Tolevu Rogoiruwai and Kingsman Ponipate Tagitaginimoce. They had both excelled on operations in the past and in the tough conditions of Afghanistan.

They died working to bring stability to the Nad ‘Ali district, an area vital to the success of our operation in Afghanistan. Corporal Rogoiruwai’s colleagues in the 1st Battalion talk of a tough yet compassionate soldier who led from the front; and Kingsman Tagitaginimoce was clearly a selfless and diligent soldier, and a loyal friend.

My thoughts remain with their families, friends and those with whom they served.

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