Page last updated at 06:35 GMT, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Comrades hail UK soldier killed in Afghanistan

L/Cpl Daniel Cooper
L/Cpl Daniel Cooper was killed in northern Helmand province

A soldier killed by a blast in Afghanistan on Sunday has been hailed by comrades as "the complete package".

L/Cpl Daniel Cooper, 21, of 3rd Battalion The Rifles, was killed as he tried to clear a path south of the Sangin district in northern Helmand.

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson described the 21-year-old, from Hereford, as "the consummate soldier".

His parents, Karl and Caroline Cooper, said he was a "caring son, brother and partner" who would be "sadly missed".

They added: "Daniel, we were proud to be your parents from the day you were born."

The soldier's death brings the number of UK service personnel killed in Afghanistan since 2001 to 251.

L/Cpl Cooper went to Whitecross High School before joining the Army and deploying to Afghanistan in October last year. Described as a fitness fanatic, he wanted to become a physical training instructor.

L/Cpl Daniel Cooper was clearly a very popular and talented soldier
Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth

Lt Col Kitson, commanding officer 3 Rifles Battle Group, said: "L/Cpl Daniel Cooper was one of the great characters of the battalion; his sense of humour and zest for life were topped only by his ability and determination.

"The consummate soldier, he was the complete package; fit, bright and dedicated to his work.

"Ever cheerful and irrepressibly positive, he shone as an example to the more junior Riflemen on how to act and what to aim for."

Lieutenant Palmer Winstanley, Officer Commanding 2 Platoon, said L/Cpl Cooper was the "epicentre of platoon morale" and "wore his heart on his sleeve".

He said: "I remember when he had cleared with his metal detector past an improvised explosive device which a local Afghan later pointed out to him.

"Despite the fact that it was nowhere near the route he had cleared, I found him hours later worrying about having let his mates down. That was the kind of thoughtful man he was, more concerned for his mates' safety than his own.

"In the end, Coops died clearing a safe path through what we knew to be a dangerous area."

Seven regiment deaths

L/Cpl Cooper was named on the day Maj Gen Nick Carter, the British general in charge of Isaf forces in southern Afghanistan, said troops were to launch an offensive to take back areas of Helmand province now controlled by the Taliban.

Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said: "L/Cpl Daniel Cooper was clearly a very popular and talented soldier who held the respect and high regard of all who worked with him.

"My thoughts and condolences are with his friends, colleagues and family during this difficult time."

L/Cpl Cooper was the seventh member of the Rifles to have died since the beginning of last month.

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