Page last updated at 21:00 GMT, Friday, 2 January 2009

Dead UK soldier planned to marry

Sgt Christopher Reed
Sjt Reed planned to marry on his return to the UK

A soldier killed in an explosion in southern Afghanistan on New Year's Day got engaged to his girlfriend on the day he left the UK, it has emerged.

Serjeant Christopher Reed, 25, had planned to marry his fiancee Heather at the end of his tour but was killed on routine patrol in Helmand province.

His family said Christopher, of the 6th Battalion The Rifles, "touched the hearts" of everyone he met.

The Territorial Army said his death was a "hammer blow" to the battalion.

Sjt Reed is the 138th member of British forces to die in Afghanistan since the start of operations in October 2001.

We are very proud of what he achieved and what he was trying to achieve
Brian, Joy and Andrew Reed

Speaking from his unit's headquarters at Wyvern Barracks in Devon, his commanding officer Lt Col Tom Mereweather said: "He was undoubtedly one of my very best section commanders.

"Calm, modest, easy-going but with a sense of purpose and obvious steel, he will be greatly missed."

When not on tour with the TA, Sjt Reed, from Plymouth, built luxury yachts for Babcock Marine at Devonport Dockyard.

In a statement, his parents, Brian and Joy Reed, and his brother Andrew said: "Christopher will be sadly missed.

"We are very proud of what he achieved and what he was trying to achieve."

'Took control'

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said during Sjt Reed's deployment he led an evacuation of casualties to get them away from a fire-fight.

His team commander and three Afghan National Army soldiers were injured by shrapnel, he said.

"Without pause Chris took control of the situation overseeing the evacuation of the casualties and then continuing with his patrol," he added.

Sjt Reed's death came a day after Royal Marine Cpl Liam Elms died during a routine patrol in the Sangin district of Helmand.

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