A MARINE who died has sent his friends on an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas.

David Hart was killed nearly a year ago by a Taliban bomb while on duty in Afghanistan. It was the eve of his 24th birthday.

A member of 40 Commando, he died while on foot patrol in the Sangin district of Helmand province.

Before his posting, he took out a £250,000 insurance policy and wrote a letter saying that, if he died, £100,000 should pay for his friends and their girlfriends to go on the party trip of a lifetime.

Next month, 32 of them will board a jet and fly to Las Vegas to honour his wishes.

The combat medic, from Poppleton, York, joined up in 2009 and quickly made his name as an exemplary Royal Marine, winning the Commando Medal.

After his death, his commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, described him as “the perfect Marine – magnificent in personality and profession”.

His fellow Marines described him as the life and soul of the party. 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.”

Mr Hare, a construction manager, said: “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.”

His parents, Chris, 60, and Dilys, 54, and sister Sarah 27, said they were all proud of his career as a commando.

Mr Hart said: “This was typical of David. He lived here in Poppleton from the age of three and grew up with these friends, played football with them and went on holiday with them. They were a unique band of friends.

“It is our pride in him, his career, and those faithful friends that have helped us keep going since David died.

They have all been to see us.”

As well as the party money, Marine Hart left £50,000 to a charity for injured Marines, as well as money for his family.

In September, his father, sister and friends will take part in a 170-mile cycle ride for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.