A ROYAL Marine from York killed in an explosion in Afghanistan a day before his 24th birthday left £100,000 to send his friends on a trip to Las Vegas.

David Hart, of 40 Commando, became York’s third victim of the conflict when he was killed in the blast in the war-torn Helmand province of Sangin on July 8 last year.

Marine Hart, who lived in Upper Poppleton with parents Chris, 60, and Dilys, 54, took out the life insurance before deploying for Afghanistan.

He stipulated in a letter that, in the event of his death, a portion of the £250,000 policy proceeds should be used for his friends and their girlfriends to party in Las Vegas in his memory.

Now 32 of his friends are jetting off to the US.

Close friend Andy Hare, 25, said: “He loved going away with his mates – it was always the best two weeks of the year. They were lads’ holidays and great times.

“In his letter David said he had had a great life and had no regrets about anything. He always said he would do something like this if something bad happened.

“He said, ‘Go and have a good time and spend all this money’. All the lads said, ‘What a guy’.”

Marine Hart, a keen footballer who had joined the forces in 2009, also left a large sum to his family and £50,000 to his favourite charity which cares for injured marines.

Chris said: “Since his death, all of his friends have been round to see us. It’s nice they have been there to support us.”

David’s sister Sarah, 27, said: “He was the best brother I could have wished for. He was caring, funny and had an infamous grin.

“He would always be there for you. I’m proud to have been his sister and of his career as a commando.”

An army spokeswoman said life insurance policies were often taken out by soldiers, and were encouraged by the army, especially when soldiers were due to be deployed oversees.

There are specific companies, such as Pax, that deal with policies for servicemen and women.

Marine Hart had studied horticulture at Askham Bryan College and went on to become a landscape gardener for two years before deciding he wanted to become a marine.

In October 2009, after completing his training, he went to Afghanistan. He was serving as part of Combined Force Sangin when he was killed by a Taliban bomb while on foot patrol.

A week after his death hundreds of mourners lined the streets and packed inside the York Minster as the city said a final farewell to David, who was described as “kind, loving and thoughtful” and “the life and soul of the party” who adored his friends, family and girlfriend Sarah Horsley.

Since his death, his family and friends have raised hundreds of pounds for charities which help wounded servicemen and women, and Chris, sister Sarah and friends will cycle 170 miles in September to raise cash for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.

A JustGiving webpage has been set up. To donate, visit justgiving.com/David-Hart

York Press: The Press - Comment

The right way to remember a hero

HE WAS a Royal Marines hero who became York’s third victim of the war in Afghanistan when he was killed in a bomb blast in Helmand last July.

But David Hart was also a fun-loving young man who liked nothing more than partying with his mates.

When he died, he left a letter stipulating that £100,000 of a £250,000 insurance policy should be spent ensuring those mates had one last party in his honour.

Now 32 of them – his best friends and their girlfriends – are jetting off to Las Vegas to celebrate his memory.

Close friend Andy Hare said that in his letter, David – who was killed a day before his 24th birthday – had talked about having had a great life and not having any regrets. “He said: ‘Go and have a great time and spend all this money’,” Andy said. “All the lads said: ‘What a guy’.”

It is wonderful to think of this young man being remembered by his friends in just the way he wanted. David also left a large sum to his family, and £50,000 to his favourite charity, which cares for injured marines.

He was described by those who knew him best as “kind, loving and thoughtful”. His bequest reflects this.

But he was also known as the life and soul of the party. That’s how his mates will be remembering him in Las Vegas: just as he wanted them to.

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