On Friday, 22nd May 2009 Petero ‘Pat’ Suesue was on a foot patrol with fellow fusiliers near Sangin in Helmand province, Afghanistan when he was killed as a result of a gunshot.
Petero 'Pat' Suesue was a Fusilier with the 2nd Battalion, The Royal regiment of Fusiliers.
Fusilier Suesue, or 'Pat' to his mates, was born in Levuka in Fiji in December 1980. He joined the Army in February 2002 and, on successful completion of his infantry training at ITC Catterick, was posted to 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2 RRF) later that year.
He was always eager and proud to be a Fusilier and Infantryman.
On arrival in the battalion, Fusilier Suesue joined Fire Support Company and the Anti-Tank Platoon, remaining there throughout his career. In 2003 he deployed to Northern Ireland and was based in Girdwood, Belfast, during which time he was involved in Public Order operations. After a short spell in mainland UK, Pat found himself back in Belfast with 2 RRF based at Palace Barracks.
During that time he represented the battalion at rugby, playing with distinction. His ability on the field was recognised with a place on the infantry rugby team for their tour to South Africa in 2004. In late 2005, Fusilier Suesue moved with the battalion to Cyprus and, during the Theatre Reserve Battalion commitment, deployed from Exercise Saffron Sands in Jordan to Iraq for four months, operating from Basra Palace.
On his return in November 2006, Pat went to Fiji, where he married Emalaini. On his return, he then deployed to Kabul with Fire Support Company, but was soon needed in Sangin with C Company as an integral part of their Javelin capability.
Once back in Cyprus, his wife Emalaini moved to join him in Dhekelia, and the Suesues moved with the battalion back to Hounslow, West London, in March 2008. After the move to London, Pat again distinguished himself as a key member of the Anti-Tank Platoon during Exercise Druids Dance, and then subsequently during the battalion's period of Public Duties in London.
When called on to deploy to Afghanistan again, Fusilier Suesue threw himself into the challenge with his usual tenacity and enthusiasm, training as a Jackal heavy weapons gunner for A Company's Fire Support Group, now attached to 2nd Battalion The Rifles (2 RIFLES)Battle Group and based near Sangin.
Fusilier Suesue's family paid this tribute:
"Petero epitomised the qualities of the Fijian Fusilier. He was strong yet gentle, compassionate and always willing to support those around him. His ability to include everyone is indicative of his friendly nature and there will be a large hole left in the community with his passing.
"He leaves behind a loving wife, Emalaini, his mother, Sisilia, his sister, Litiana, and three brothers, Taito, Varasiko and Jovesa. It is with great sadness that Petero will no longer be with us in body; however, he leaves behind a legacy of love and affection in the memories of all who knew and loved him."
Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Calder, Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, said:
"2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, have paid a heavy price with the death of Fusilier Petero Suesue. However, all of us know that this is as nothing compared to the loss sustained by his wife Emalaini and his family back in Fiji. It is some small recompense to know that he died a brave soldier amongst friends."
Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson, Commanding Officer 2 RIFLES Battle Group, said:
"The loss of Fusilier Suesue is sorely felt across the Battle Group. He was a legendary soldier, awesomely tough and full of character and Pacific Island charm. His beloved wife, family and friends are front and centre of our thoughts and prayers at this unimaginably difficult time."
Major Jo Butterfill, Officer Commanding A Company Group, said:
"Fusilier Suesue was every inch the professional infantry soldier, and a big man in all senses of the word. Universally respected and liked throughout the company group, with quietly irrepressible good humour and compassion, I count myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve with him.
"He was a character and we will miss him deeply. It is a small comfort to know that he died doing the job that he loved, amongst his friends, at the front, and in the face of the enemy. Our grief can be as nothing to the anguish of his loving wife and family, and my thoughts, and those of the whole company, are with them at this, the worst of times."
Captain Anthony Harris, Platoon Commander, said:
"I have known Fusilier Suesue for three years. In that time he has proved himself to be a loyal soldier and steadfast Fusilier. Keen to support his friends and a talented rugby player, it is with the greatest sense of loss that we saw this brave Fusilier lay down his life saving his friends.
"It does not surprise me to hear that Fusilier Suesue was at the front of things; he strove to protect the civilians and the soldiers around him. We will remember a good friend, a loyal warrior, a true Fusilier and most of all a loving husband. He will be missed but not forgotten."
Company Sergeant Major A Company Group, Warrant Officer Class 2 Wayne Caffrey, said:
"Fusilier Suesue will be sorely missed. He was a quiet, calm, professional soldier, with a can-do approach to his job. He was a key battalion rugby player, a sport that he loved. Our thoughts go to his wife, friends and family at this very sad time."
Colour Sergeant John McCowliffe, Officer Commanding A Company Fire Support Group (FSG A), said:
"I have known Fusilier Suesue for many years, and worked closely with him during a previous operational tour in Iraq. He was an outstanding, professional soldier who had a thorough understanding of his role in my platoon. He was an asset, a very skilled Javelin operator, and carried out every job he was asked to do diligently and without hesitation. It feels like we have lost a true friend and we're thinking of his family. He will be missed by the lads in FSG A."
Fusilier Robert Fitzgerald, A Company Fire Support Group, said:
"Fusilier Suesue was loved by everyone, and always had a smile and a positive look on his face. If you were down, he would always pick you up. Suesue would give you a hand with anything, if it was in work or in his own down time. He will be greatly missed by me, and everyone that worked with him and knew him as a friend."
Lance Corporal Michael Walsh, A Company Fire Support Group, said:
"Fusilier Suesue was a quiet man, but he had a powerful presence. Whenever you were on duty with him you felt safe in his professional attitude to his job and his knowledge. He was a thoroughly professional soldier who will be sorely missed by all."
The men and women of 1 Troop, 11 Field Squadron, Royal Engineers, said:
"During our time with the Fusiliers at FOB [Forward Operating Base] Nolay, Fusilier Suesue (known to us as Pat) has been one of the most memorable characters we have met. Not just because of his sheer size, or the crazy moustache he was trying to grow, but also because he was one of the most pleasant and courteous members of the company.
"He always had a smile on his face, and would go to great lengths just to be polite. Although we didn't know him that well, having only met him whilst serving alongside A Company, he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers go to his wife and family."
His Fire Support Company Commander, Major James Bird, spoke of his character and professionalism:
"Fusilier Petero Suesue was a true Fijian warrior; physically strong yet kind-hearted. He was a real friend to many and all of the company will miss him dearly. Petero was a well-liked member of Fire Support Company who proved himself to be a diligent, conscientious and reliable soldier that we could all depend on. During the preparations for Operation Herrick he worked hard to learn new skills demonstrating his commitment to his job.
"Already trained as a Javelin gunner he cross-trained as a GMG gunner and Jackal crew member; he rapidly became proficient and a valued member of A Company's Fire Support Group. A combination of his passion for rugby and his formidable stature saw him being selected for the battalion's rugby team where he became a justifiably accomplished player.
"He was central to the social life of not only Fire Support Company, but also the battalion. Our thoughts go out to his wife Emalaini and his family on their sad loss. He will be sorely missed by all members of Fire Support Company, the Javelin Platoon and the wider Fusilier family."
Major Jez Lamb MC, Officer Commanding B Company, spoke of his time in Northern Ireland:
"Unusually, Fusilier Suesue and a number of other Fijians joined Fire Support Company in 2002 straight from training as it was acting as a rifle company for Northern Ireland operations. They had an immediate and dramatic effect on the culture of the company and Fusilier Suesue was central to it.
"The summer of 2002 will be remembered for Fijian families having all inclusive parties on the sports pitch, all dressed in sarongs throwing rugby balls around. He always had a huge wide grin on his face and would greet everyone whether he knew them or not. Fellow Fusiliers struggled with the pronunciation of the Fijian names so he was instantly nicknamed 'Sue'. Eventually he became known as 'Pat', a derivation of his first name Petero.
"Despite being a member of A Company, such was his popularity across the battalion that within B Company his loss has greatly affected all of us. Since learning of his death, many stories have been told of his generosity and kind nature, including Fusilier 'Bad Foot' Wotton who recalled an incident when he found himself in trouble on a night out in Belfast. Fusilier Suesue pulled the assailant away shouting 'No-one messes with my Bad Foot!'.
"Fusilier Suesue was well known for playing rugby (very well), for his grin and optimistic outlook, and for having time for everyone. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him and the thoughts of all of B Company are with his family."
Captain Chris Dixon, 2 Royal Regiment Fusiliers Rugby Team Captain, said:
"Fusilier Suesue was a key member of the team, both on and off the pitch. One couldn't help liking Pat, he had a warm kindness and he always had the time of day to stop and say hello and chat to the team.
"On the pitch Pat could read the game superbly. He could judge a gap, move through it as if there was nobody there, dance around anybody trying to stop him, and then score the try before converting it himself.
"He has many friends who are devastated by his departure; he was truly a great man, a great rugby player, and a great husband. I will miss his flare on the pitch, I will miss his smile in camp and I will miss him as a friend and a colleague."
In a joint statement, Drummer Saimon Iroi, best man at his wedding, and Fusilier Paula Waqakalou, a close friend from Fire Support Group B, said:
"Born in Ovalou, the old capital of Fiji, he was extremely close to his family, especially his sister and three brothers, one of whom serves with the Fijian Army. An exceptional and fiercely competitive rugby player from the start, he was a member of the school team that won the Fijian schools' national level Dean's Championship every year from U15 through to U19. He continued his rugby career in the battalion, and both the Infantry and Army teams as both a fly-half and winger.
"A genuine, kind, generous man he was at the centre of both battalion and Fijian social life, always present with his infectious laugh, humour, and insistence on a good standard of drinking! He was known as a man who believed and said that 'the more you give, the more you get in return', and was viewed as a brother to many Fusiliers, especially his fellow Fijians.
"Pat met his wife Emalaini in Fiji before coming to the UK to join the Army. He was based in Dhekelia, Cyprus, and flew back to Fiji for the wedding with Saimon Iroi. His friends in the Fusiliers want his family in Suva to know that their thoughts are with them. Pat was loved and greatly admired by all who served with him. He will always be remembered and will be sorely missed."
Fusilier Joe Valensoro, a close friend and colleague, said:
"Over the course of seven years in the British Army, Pat was involved in countless exercises, and no less than five operational deployments. He was a kind, generous and sociable man, who loved being part of the Javelin Platoon, and relished challenges.
"He was always ready to lend a hand and get stuck into anything, however unpleasant. He was a much-liked member of the Fusiliers, battalion-wide, and he was a great friend to me and many others. He will be very sorely missed. He died doing what he loved and believed in showing courage under fire and a grit and determination when taking the fight to the enemy. We are all immensely proud of this fine man. Rest in Peace my friend, we shall never forget you."
Lance Corporal Wesley Tokalau, a close friend and colleague, said:
"It is impossible to describe Fusilier Suesue in just one word because of the numerous qualities he possessed, but unique is probably the one that comes close. Few people have the ability to touch our lives like he did, and he did so with such ease like it was second nature to him.
"He was a friend like no other who always had time for you if you needed him and his house was always open to those that needed it! He was a dedicated husband to his wife Emalaini whom he adored tremendously and as a soldier he could be counted on to give his all."
Lance Corporal Vilikesa 'Kia' Tubuitamana, a close friend, said:
"Fusilier 'Pat' Suesue was a funny bloke, always joking, particularly about my dancing moves. He was good on a night out and an excellent rugby player. He would always host all of the Fijians at his house, inviting us round to drink Kana. He never wanted anyone to go, always saying 'the night is still young'.
"When he got married, he invited all of the single Fijian guys round to his house. Pat was always willing to go out of his way to help out the single Fijians with no family in the UK."
Fusilier Tez Scanlon, a close friend, said:
"I first met Fusilier Suesue when we got back from Dungannon in 2002, he joined Fire Support Company straight from training. Straight away you could tell that he was a top bloke, he had one of those smiles, a cheeky smile.
"In all of the time I've known him, he never said a bad word about anyone; he was a true genuine bloke. When things were bad you just turned round to him and say 'How's it going?', he'd smile a massive grin and look at you with big wide eyes and say 'Fine!'. There isn't anyone who knows him who doesn't like him, he'll be missed by everyone and this is a big shock. I send my love to his wife."
Corporal Stuart Fiddler and Fusilier Eugene De-Bruyn (Javelin Platoon), close friends, said:
"Fusilier (Pat) Suesue was a quiet but large character within the platoon. He always saw the good in people as well as showing the good within himself. We have known Fusilier (Pat) Suesue since he arrived in Fire Support Company in 2002 when he finished training.
"He was a top soldier who spent a lot of time in our detachment, and was also a very good friend who will leave a gap within the Anti-Tank family who have always been close. We wish to send our condolences to his wife and family. May he rest in peace and watch over us all."
In a joint statement, Fusilier Joshua Masala (Mortar Platoon) and Fusilier Kafoa Fatiaki (Javelin Platoon), close friends, said:
"We have known Fusilier Suesue since 2003. He initially came across as quiet but funny person. He was the sort of bloke you could turn to and share your problems with. On physical training in the mornings we were running partners, we were always the rear markers, although not by choice.
"He loved the Army and would have done 22 years standing on his head. He will always be remembered as a brother and as a best friend by those who were close to him. Suesue will mostly be remembered by his beloved family and all the Fusiliers who knew him. May he rest in peace."