Page last updated at 21:06 GMT, Tuesday, 29 December 2009

UK soldier killed in blast in Afghanistan named by MoD

Rifleman Aidan Howell
His family said Rifleman Howell was already a hero

A soldier killed in an explosion in Afghanistan on Monday has been named as Rifleman Aidan Howell, from 3rd Battalion, The Rifles.

The 19-year-old, from Sidcup in Kent, was on patrol in the Kajaki area of Helmand when a roadside bomb exploded.

His family, who knew him as "Sunshine Boy", said he had always been a hero to "everyone lucky enough to know him".

He is the fifth man to die from his battalion in less than two months, and the 244th UK soldier killed since 2001.

In a statement his family said they could not express the "total and utter devastation" they felt.

"Aidan was a big Leeds United fan and even met the players, his heroes, before he left for Afghanistan," they said.

"He was known as Sunshine Boy to his family and he was a loving son, grandson, and a cheeky and cocky brother.

"He loved his mates both at home and in the Army and he was so proud to be a soldier, as we were utterly proud of him."

Christmas messages

Rifleman Howell was part of a specialised fire support group, which was normally reserved for more senior riflemen.

Lt Col Nick Kitson, commanding officer of 3 Rifles, said he was "already established as a man of promise".

"His infectious humour and engaging personality had quickly endeared him to his company and his platoon," he said.

Captain Ben Morgan, fire support group commander, said he was "a very social young Rifleman" who always had a smile on his face.

"A tall man, he used his height to look out for others, a trait that made him a leader among men and stayed with him right to the very end," he said.

"On the day of his death a British newspaper arrived with messages of Christmas wishes from loved ones back in the UK.

"Where most people had one or two messages, Aidan had more than anyone else."

Four other soldiers from 3rd Battalion, The Rifles have been killed in Afghanistan since early November.

They are Sjt Phillip Scott, 30, from Edinburgh; L/Cpl David Kirkness, 24, from Leeds; Rifleman James Brown, 18, from Farnborough in Hampshire and L/Cpl Christopher Roney, 23, from Sunderland.

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