Saturday, July 18, 2009

Rifleman Aminiasi Toge killed in Afghanistan

It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that Rifleman Aminiasi Toge, of 2nd Battalion The Rifles was killed in Afghanistan on Thursday 16 July 2009.

Rifleman Toge was killed as a result of an explosion that happened whilst he was conducting a foot patrol close to Forward Operating Base KEENAN, near Gereshk in central Helmand Province.

At the time of his death, his platoon were attached to C Squadron Light Dragoons as part of a Danish led Battle Group.

Rifleman Aminiasi Toge

Rifleman Aminiasi 'Togey' Toge was born in Suva, Fiji, with his twin brother on 19 July 1982.

He swapped the southern Pacific paradise of home for the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire in September 2007 and passed out as a Rifleman in April 2008. Posted to the 2nd Battalion, The Rifles based in Ballykinler, County Down, Rifleman Toge soon deployed to Kosovo before returning to the UK and starting pre-deployment training for Afghanistan.

Rifleman Toge was a keen swimmer and an outstanding rugby player who could open gaps in a defence with the deftest of steps before accelerating through with his extraordinary pace. He also loved to travel.

Rifleman Toge was thriving in the demanding conditions of an Afghan summer and hoped to attempt the Junior Non-Commissioned Officers cadre on returning to Ballykinler.

Along with his twin brother, Loame, Rifleman Toge leaves behind three sisters and his devoted parents. His whole family are very firmly front and centre of the prayers of every single soldier in 2 Rifles.

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Thomson MBE, Commanding Officer 2 Rifles Battle Group, said:

"Rifleman Toge was my fastest Fijian and was known as 'Lightning'. He was smaller than most of my South Pacific heroes but no less robust, determined and wily with an oval ball under his arm. And that was when he was at his happiest - on our (usually wet) pitch in Northern Ireland or throwing the ball around his FOB in the dust.

"He was one of 35 heroic Fijians in this Battalion who add huge value, character and noise to all my companies across Helmand.

"Rifleman Toge was one of the toughest Riflemen under my command and he was adored - heart-breakingly so - by all who had the privilege to encounter him. He made such light work of the heavy General Purpose Machine Gun - it was like a pistol in his hands.

"He had that uniquely infectious Fijian laugh and was a godly man who knew in whom he placed his trust. We have lost a courageous man of great stature - there was no truer moral compass in the Battle Group but there was mischief too, all very appropriate and full of fun. Rifleman Toge will be sorely missed and our first thoughts are with his family at this unimaginably difficult time.

"Across the Upper Sangin Valley, small gangs of brave Fijian Riflemen sang a poignant hymn as we gathered to remember what Rifleman Toge meant to all of us and bade him farewell. When the Bugle Major sounded the Advance tonight, we knew the call to arms would have been heard in Suva. Mothe….vinaka vaka levu."

Major Sam Plant, Officer Commanding C Squadron Group Light Dragoons, said:

"I had not known Rifleman Toge for very long – his Platoon came under my command just three weeks prior to his untimely death. Notwithstanding that, he certainly made an impression.

"A big, strong man who was very much a key player within his Platoon, Rifleman Toge was comfortable on patrol with his GPMG [General Purpose Machine Gun] in hand. He was a determined and skilful soldier who clearly enjoyed the trust and affection of his fellow men.

"Of particular note was his infectious smile and his positive attitude to life. This approach inspired those around him and he was ever present whenever a comrade needed help. He was an all round inspiration.

"Forward Operating Base Keenan has lost a great man and a true team player. He will be hugely missed by his many friends and colleagues. We are thinking and praying for his family at this terrible time."

Captain Andy Huxter, 11 Platoon Commander, 2 Rifles, said:

"Rifleman Toge was a pleasure to command. He had no problems in life and faced everything, including the cold - which he hated - with the broadest and brightest of smiles.

"He came to my Platoon in October 2008 from the Machine Gun Platoon, and has been at home in the dust and stifling heat of Afghanistan from the day he arrived.

"He was fitter, stronger and more robust than most. He would step so lightly on patrol, belying the weight he was carrying, setting an example to all of us.

"When asked by a fellow Rifleman why he went to the gym twice a day, he responded that it was so if anyone else got injured, he could carry them to safety.

"He was killed carrying his General Purpose Machine Gun, the job he enjoyed most. My lasting memories will be of him running around in the FOB (Forward Operating Base) in the heat of an Afghan summer trying to warm up because it was too cold in the FOB 'pool'.

"He was softly spoken, unassuming and utterly reliable. His presence made people laugh and be happy - his good cheer was infectious.

"Rifleman Toge was a gentle man, he will be sorely missed and 11 Platoon will not be the same without him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family for whom he cared very much. Rfn Toge, I know, is in a far better place now."

Corporal Llweyelyn Bryan, Section Commander, said:

"Rifleman Toge, or 'Togey' as he was fondly known, was a larger than life character who was forever lifting the spirits of his mates.

"Whenever his name was called, an almighty grin would appear on his face, swiftly followed by a mischievous giggle.

"Rifleman Toge was a Section Commander's dream; he rarely had to be told to do anything. He was a natural infantryman who was very proficient and professional. He was also very robust and fit.

"It will come as no surprise that he was the natural GPMG candidate. It will remain firmly etched in my mind whilst on patrol in the middle of the heat of the day, with sweat pouring down his face, he would look back at me and give me one of his monstrous grins, immediately followed by his unique giggle.

"I was very fortunate to have such a remarkable Rifleman covering my back and that of the rest of the section. Rfn Toge was a much loved member of the platoon and his constant humming and singing will be sorely missed.

"All our thoughts are with his family and friends in this very sad moment in time. Rest in peace my big Fijian friend."

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