The family of the 300th member of British forces to die in the Afghan war paid tribute today to a serviceman who "chose to live his days as a lion".
Marine Richard Hollingtons, from 40 Commando, died from his wounds in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham on Sunday morning with his family by his side.
The 23-year-old was injured in a blast in the Sangin district of Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan eight days earlier.
His family said: "What can we say that hasn't been said so many times before and will be repeated so many times to come?"
The serviceman, from Petersfield, Hampshire, was named just an hour after the Ministry of Defence announced the death of a fellow marine from 40 Commando.
He leaves behind his parents and younger brothers Nick and Charlie.
His family said: "Richard will leave a huge numbing hole in the lives of his family, friends and Royal Marine colleagues.
"The saying goes 'It is better to live one day as a lion than your whole life as a worm'.
"He chose to live his days as a lion and to us, and we believe his friends, he was the biggest, if softest, lion in the pride - how proud of him we all are.
"It was typical of Richard, and a crumb of comfort to us, that even in death he donated his organs to help others in accordance with his wishes."
Mne Hollington deployed to the Sangin District of Helmand Province, in southern Afghanistan, in April.
As a member of Bravo Company, he had been conducting joint operations with the Afghan National Security Forces aimed at improving the lives of local people.
He was the 55th UK death this year and the seventh member of 40 Commando killed since the Royal Marines took command of the notoriously violent Sangin area in April.
Lieutenant Colonel Paul James, commanding officer 40 Commando Group, Combined Force Sangin, said the serviceman was "one of my finest".
"He was bright, intrepid, determined and full of character; he was very much at the heart of 11 Troop," he said.
"A very talented footballer and magnificent marine, he had a lot to be proud of, yet I knew him to be an affable, generous, loyal and modest young man.
"He was gregarious and well-humoured, and in the privations of life in Sangin, he was invaluable.
"It takes extraordinary courage to be at the front of every patrol but Marine Hollington did so with the professional pride that gave confidence to others.
"He was a strong and resilient man with an immense personality."
He added: "He was one of life's greats and will be sorely missed by all in 40 Commando."
Ian Tewson, secretary of Fareham Town FC, said Mne Hollington was a "no nonsense defender" whose death would be mourned at the Sydenhams Wessex Premier League club.
He said: "Everyone at Fareham Town Football Club regrets his death and our sympathies go out to his family and friends at this time.
"He played in defence at right back in about half a dozen first team games, and about the same for the reserve side in, I think, the 2007/08 season.
"He was a wholehearted defender who would give 100% in every game. He was what I would describe as an 'agricultural player', by that I mean if the ball got past him, the player wouldn't.
"He didn't stand any nonsense.
"He was with us for such a short spell, that we didn't really get to know him that well."
Referring to him as "Dickie", Major Mark Totten, Officer Commanding Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said the serviceman "brimmed with character and potential".
"He was one of those gifted souls to whom success was familiar; be it on the football pitch or in his chosen profession, to which he brought gusto, natural ability and commitment," he said.
Describing the marine's "irrepressible sense of fun and lust for life", he added: "His passing has left a tremendous void amongst his companions in Bravo Company. He revelled in troop banter and constantly buoyed those around him with his sharp wit and love of friendly debate.
"Men like Dickie are pure gold in a patrol base here in Afghanistan."
And he said the marine's "infectious" optimism was shown by his "100% certainty in recent days that England would win the World Cup".
Sergeant Jason Wood, 11 Troop Sergeant, Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "He was always having a laugh and he lived life as a Royal Marine with ease. He was a big character in the troop, with big hair and a backside to match!
"We will miss Dickie and our thoughts are with his family."
Lance Corporal Steven Houckham, 11 Troop Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines, said: "He was a typical bootneck with a great sense of humour and a massive personality.
"Dickie was very approachable, was never short of a laugh and was someone who would go out of his way to help you. As a Royal Marine he was top class and a true professional, as a mate he was a true legend."
Marine Karl Rickard, 11 Troop Bravo Company, 40 Commando Royal Marines said: "Dickie and I both arrived at 40 Commando at the same time. From day one we were inseparable."
He added: "When it was time to do the job, many couldn't do it better, and when it was time to have a laugh, still not many could do it better.
"Knowing Dickie has been taken from us is a very hard fact to live with, and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him. He will never be forgotten."
Prior to joining the Royal Marines, Mne Hollington played semi-professional football for Fareham Town Football Club.
He completed Royal Marine training in September 2008 and attended the Defence School of Transport, in Leconfield, gaining his full range of driving licences.
He joined Delta Company 40 Commando Royal Marines in December that year, later serving in Cyprus and Turkey and the Far East.
On return to the UK he joined Bravo Company.
Marine Hollington was caught in a blast at 4.16pm on June 12.
Bravo Company had been carrying out a reassurance patrol that afternoon.
The injured Marine was immediately evacuated to Bastion Role 3 Hospital where his condition was described as critical.
He was transferred to the New Queen Elizabeth Hospital on June 13 but died on Sunday at 11.08am.