Page last updated at 16:35 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 17:35 UK

Wife 'died a hero' in Afghanistan

Cpl Sarah Bryant, Corporal Sean Robert Reeve and Paul Stout
Cpl Bryant, Cpl Sean Robert Reeve and Paul Stout were among those killed

The first British female soldier killed in Afghanistan has been praised as a "hero" by her husband.

Corporal Sarah Bryant from Cumbria died with three men in a blast on Tuesday, bringing the number of soldiers who have died in Afghanistan to 106.

The three other soldiers were named as Cpl Sean Robert Reeve, Lance Corporal Richard Larkin and Paul Stout.

Cpl Bryant's husband, fellow soldier Carl, said: "My wife was a truly special person who died a hero."

The explosion happened east of Lashkar Gah, in Helmand Province while they were manning a vehicle checkpoint.

Sarah Bryant's mother pays tribute to her "beautiful, wonderful" daughter

Three of the soldiers were killed immediately when their vehicle hit a mine and another was pronounced dead at the British military base, Camp Bastion.

A fifth soldier was also wounded in the attack.

Defence Secretary Des Browne said: "All four were immensely dedicated and professional service personnel and my sincere and deepest condolences go out to all of their family and loved ones.

"They have made the ultimate sacrifice, laying down their life alongside those of their comrades in pursuit of the aim of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan."

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt said the troops had been on patrol alongside Afghan police officers when their vehicle - believed to be a Snatch Land Rover or weapon-mounted WMIK version - was blown up.

Cpl Bryant, 26, from Carlisle, had been in Afghanistan for three months as a member of 15 (United Kingdom) Psychological Operations Group based in Chicksands, Bedfordshire.

The MoD said she was a member of a small team, and her death had shocked all those who worked with her.

She had been in the Army since January 2002, had served in Iraq and been "pre-selected" for promotion.

Sarah and Carl Bryant
She was an awesome soldier who died doing the job that she loved
Carl Bryant

Her husband added: "Although I am devastated beyond words at the death of my beautiful wife Sarah, I am so incredibly proud of her.

"She was an awesome soldier who died doing the job that she loved. My wife knew the risks, she was there because she wanted to be, and she wouldn't have had it any other way."

He added: "Sarah, as with all our fallen, must never be forgotten."

Her father Des Feely, speaking from his home in Cumbria, said: "There are so many people both in the military and locally where she grew up that are not only going to be touched by this but also devastated at the loss of such a beautiful girl.

"Nothing much seems to have changed since the days of Churchill's famous speech. Never have so many owed so much to so few.

"We truly have lost the 'Angel of the North'."

'Wonderful and brave'

Her mother, Maureen Feely, said she was incredibly proud of her "wonderful" daughter, who she said loved her job.

Our lives will be changed forever by this loss
Family of Paul Stout

"Right from day one, from her basic training, she absolutely loved the life. She loved being out on exercise, out on the field, there was nothing about the life she didn't like at all," she said.

Mrs Feely added: "She was beautiful, she was wonderful, she was just so brave at everything she did."

Cpl Bryant's Commanding Officer, Lt Col Jim Suggit, said: "She had courage, passion and flair for the role she was undertaking, engaging with the people of Helmand Province and trying to give them hope and confidence that they might eventually enjoy peace, progress and prosperity."

"She was just a very positive, happy person. A lot of courage - I mean I was surprised that someone so feminine should take on a job in the army."

The family of Cpl Sean Robert Reeve, who was 28, issued a statement describing him as a "dearly loved son, brother, godparent, uncle, grandson, and friend, who was loving, loyal, honourable, selfless and gentle".

Our instinct is always to publish information once it is in our possession
Peter Horrocks
Head of BBC newsroom

"Sean's professionalism and determination for all that he did was an inspiration to all that were fortunate to have known him," it continued.

In a statement, the family of L/Cpl Larkin, who was 39, said he "was a beloved husband, father, son and brother whose tragic and untimely death will be deeply mourned by his family, friends and colleagues".

The family of Paul Stout, who was 31, described him as a "loving father and devoted husband".

"He was a wonderful son and brother and will be greatly missed by all his family and friends," their statement continued.

"Our lives will be changed forever by this loss."

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The Scotsman Inquest opens into soldiers' deaths - 32 mins ago
Rye and Battle Observer Family tribute to blast soldier - 41 mins ago
Luton News Soldier killed in Afghan blast a 'beautiful daughter' - 55 mins ago

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