Family mourns soldier known as sunshine boy'
PUBLISHED: 15:27 06 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:50 12 August 2010
A SOLDIER killed in a blast in Afghanistan was from the same Battalion as another squaddie killed three weeks ago. Rifleman Aidan Howell, 19, from Sidcup, died in the Kajaki area of Helmand last Monday afternoon. The Ministry of Defence confirmed he was
A SOLDIER killed in a blast in Afghanistan was from the same Battalion as another squaddie killed three weeks ago.
Rifleman Aidan Howell, 19, from Sidcup, died in the Kajaki area of Helmand last Monday afternoon.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed he was from 3rd Battalion, The Rifles, the same unit as James Stephen Brown, 18, from Orpington, who was killed by Taliban suicide bombers on December 15.
Rifleman Howell, known as 'Sunshine Boy' to his family and H to his comrades, was killed when an improvised explosive detonated in near Forward Operating Base Zeebrugge where he was on patrol.
He was the 107th British soldier to die in Afghanistan in 2009.
In a statement, his family said: "We can not begin to express the total and utter devastation we feel at the loss of our beautiful son Aidan. He may be recognised as a hero now, but to his family and everyone who was lucky enough to know him, he was already a hero.
"Aidan was a big Leeds United fan and even met the players, his heroes, before he left for Afghanistan. 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."
The popular soldier, who joined the Army in 2006 after studying at the Montsaye Community College in Rothwell, Northamptonshire, joined the C Company to complete his Pre-Deployment Training as part of the specialised Fire Support Group, a role normally reserved for more senior Riflemen.
On the day that he died, a national newspaper was delivered to the platoon with messages from family and friends to servicemen.
Captain Ben Morgan, Fire Support Group Commander of the C Company Group, 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. He leaves a gaping hole in the lives of many and our hearts go out to his bereaved family at this terrible moment.
"To have served alongside him in Afghanistan was an honour and he will be remembered by us all as a hero."
His Lieutenant Colonel Nick Kitson described him as a man of promise, adding: "His infectious humour and engaging personality had quickly endeared him to his Company and his Platoon. Despite being a relatively new arrival to the battalion, he was already operating with the C Company Fire Support Group which demands the experience and ability of our older Riflemen.
"His loss is a tragedy and he goes to join a line of gallant Riflemen who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country and mates out there in Afghanistan. In this he found no difficulty and held his head high, belying his tender years. "His loss is a tragedy and he goes to join a line of gallant Riflemen who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country and their mates out here in Afghanistan. Those who remain here will take strength from his courage and dedication and will honour his memory always."
Rifleman Howell was selected to attend the Army Foundation College in Harrogate before completing his training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick.
Fellow Rifleman and friend Toby Graham said: "'H' was an all round good soldier, the only thing that let him down was the moustache he failed to grow on tour! We were really good mates and went through some tough times out here but that's when you really get to know someone and Aidan was a friend for life.
"The good times we shared back in the UK were always full of banter and it was never a dull moment when we went out together. He will be missed amongst the Fire Support Group and the Battalion, gone but never forgotten.