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Mother pays tribute to my 'invincible Ben' Family mourn 'extraordinary' Mersey Marine killed in Iraq boat blast.

Byline: BY DEBORAH JAMES Daily Post Staff

THE mother of a Merseyside serviceman, killed in a bomb attack in Iraq, last night said the death of her "extraordinary" son was a huge loss to all who knew him.

Royal Marine Ben Nowak, 27, was among four killed in the explosion while they were out on boat patrol in Basra on Remembrance Sunday.

The lifelong Everton FC fan, once a promising young footballer who had trials with Southampton FC, had served for a decade in the Marines before volunteering to go to Iraq. He flew out on November 4.

Speaking from her sister's home in Speke last night, his mother, Gillian Keary, said she last spoke to him via an internet webcam.

She said: "He wasn't afraid, he wasn't worried about anything, he was 'invincible Ben'. We are all still in shock. He was such an extraordinary person. It's a huge loss."

Mrs Keary yesterday flew back from Australia, where Cpl Nowak, who was born in Speke, lived from the age of seven until he returned to the UK, aged 16.

The serviceman was being mourned yesterday at Everton FC's youth training academy, where he set up a Royal Marine endurance course for young players.

Head coach at the academy Neil Dewsnip paid tribute to a "fantastically enthusiastic and passionate" man who was loved by staff scholars.

Cpl Nowak spent his time on leave mainly in Speke, living with his uncle and aunt, Michael and Valerie McEvatt.

He returned to the UK, aged 16, for trials with Southampton FC, and remained on the club's books for some time, but did not gain a contract.

He decided to join the Royal Marines at the age of 18, where the super-fit Commando continued to play football.

Cpl Nowak's family paid tribute to "an extraordinary soldier and an extraordinary young man".

His mother, who is divorced from his father, pentathlon athlete Jim Nowak, flew back with her husband Phil Keary and son Sam, 17.

She described her son as "a real outdoors person".

She said: "Ben always had a smile on his face and he was the sort of person who could make friends across the generations' he was popular with everyone.

"As soon as Ben came into your life, he changed it forever.

"He was the life and soul of the party and had dozens of friends, both at home and in Australia. He was a great family man and idolised his brother Sam.

"Ben lived for the Royal Marines and had always wanted to join. He took every opportunity to wear the uniform and was very proud to serve his country."

Two years ago, Cpl Nowak bought a house in Speke where he lived with his cousin, 28-year-old Jaguar worker Tony McEvatt. He had been planning to visit the family in Australia with his girlfriend, Nicola Hindley, next year.

But his mother said his heart always remained in Liver pool. Grieving friends and relatives have been gathering in the McEvatt household since his death on Sunday. His uncle, Michael McEvatt, 48, said: "Ben lived life to the full. He wasn't just an extraordinary soldier, he was an extraordinary young man. He touched the lives of everyone who met him.

"He would want to be remembered as happy-go-lucky, a true professional, and an Ever tonian."

Asked how Cpl Nowak felt about the Iraq war, Mr McEvatt replied:

"He was the ultimate professional. He didn't have a view on the war as such.

"His view was that his job was to serve and he would do that to the best of his ability. If he was given an order then he would do it, and he expected others to follow orders he gave."

Cpl Nowak's girlfriend, Nicola, and brother Sam were also in the house in Speke, but were too upset to be interviewed.

He died alongside a fellow Marine, divorced father-of-two Jason Hylton, 33, Staff Sergeant Sharron Elliott, 34, and Warrant Officer Class 2 Lee Hopkins, 35.

deborahjames@dailypost.co.uk

Ben was proud to serve

CAPTION(S):

Royal Marine Corporal Ben Nowak, centre, wearing a vest, with the Everton scholars in a swamp on the Royal Marine endurance course in Devon, in August, 2005. Also in the picture is Everton's Nigerian first team squad striker Victor Anichebe, behind Cpl Nowak, on the left' One-time Everton coach Gary Ablett, far left, who has since moved to Liverpool FC, with Cpl Nowak, second right, and other coaches' Corporal Ben Nowak
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 15, 2006
Words:746
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