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Fiancee's moving tribute to hero soldier

PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:40 06 July 2010

L/Cpl David Dennis, of the Light Dragoons based at Swanton Morley, who was killed in Afghanistan, with his fiancee Lisa Mcgregor

L/Cpl David Dennis, of the Light Dragoons based at Swanton Morley, who was killed in Afghanistan, with his fiancee Lisa Mcgregor

It was a whirlwind romance. Within months of meeting they were engaged and already making plans for what would be a military wedding.

Both knew this was it - they were meant to be together.

It was a whirlwind romance. Within months of meeting they were engaged and already making plans for what would be a military wedding.

Both knew this was it - they were meant to be together.

But now Dereham-born Lisa Macgregor is counting the very personal cost of war after her fiancé Lance Corporal David "Duke" Dennis was killed on Saturday in an explosion just after he had secured a helicopter landing site to evacuate casualties north of Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

The 29-year-old Light Dragoon, based at Swanton Morley, had been planning his sword guard for their wedding and when he returned, on July 25, they were going to look for a venue.

"If he could have died anywhere that would have been it," said Lisa, who was set to move back to her home town to live with and marry L/Cpl Dennis, nick-named Duke.

"David loved the army, he was a real soldier's soldier," she said. "He loved being in the action.

"He had already started planning and already had his sword guard sorted. He was my soul mate. I'm not a believer in that but when I met David it all changed.

"We got the best out of each other. He was the love of my life, I can't imagine life without him."

The pair met in the Red Lion in Dereham, Duke's favourite pub, in November. Lisa, 30, had spotted him the night before and got her sister to introduce her on the Saturday.

Duke then swept her off her feet, "or at least he would like to think so", joked Lisa. Within weeks they knew this was it and by February, before he was posted to Afghanistan in April, they were engaged.

"We just knew it was right," she said. "I think he knew, and I would agree, that by the first couple of times we had contact we knew we would be together.

"He was genuine, kind and caring."

He wore his passions literally on his sleeves with tattoos and his last tattoo was of a playing card on his arm to mark their engagement.

Duke also had a Welsh dragon tattooed on one of his always well honed arms, or guns as he liked to call them, because he was from Llanelli in South Wales and was a keen Wales rugby supporter.

Perseverance was tattooed across his chest after, during his first tour in Afghanistan, a comrade said "it's all about perseverance" of their work there.

He also loved music, modern indie bands and rock ballads the one time choir boy would sing along and air guitar to.

His nick-name Duke was because of his love of horse riding - also reflected in one of his tattoos of a horse because of his time in the Royal Artillery, on his arm. Lisa was going to learn to ride with him when he returned.

After he was posted to Afghanistan in April the pair kept in touch through the services mail system, called blueys because of the colour of the envelopes. The last time they spoke was the Saturday before he was killed.

"We spoke once a week and I wrote blueys every day," said Lisa, who currently works as a history teacher and lives in Middlesbrough.

"He was always very positive saying you don't need to worry. He was inspiring."

He joined the Army in 2003 and had served in the Royal Artillery and the King's Troop before being attached to the Light Dragoons in 2005 and joining them in Norfolk in 2006.

Flowers have been laid outside the Robertson Barracks, home of the Light Dragoons. A memorial service will be held at the base.

His funeral is expected to be held in South Wales. He leaves behind his mum Adele, twin brother Gareth, father Roger and step mum Helen.

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