The funeral of a young soldier who died after a street attack just hours after he returned on leave from Afghanistan will take place today.
Signalman David Grout was celebrating his homecoming with family when he was the victim of a street attack in Eston, Teesside, last month.
Police said the 22-year-old, of the Royal Signals Regiment, received a serious head injury in an unprovoked attack outside the Eston Institute.
He died in the James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, having undergone brain surgery.
A 19-year-old man was arrested and bailed pending further inquiries following the attack.
Signalman Grout met his wife Kerry while stationed in Colchester, Essex, and the couple had a little boy Harley, aged 20 months, to whom he was devoted.
On the eve of his funeral, his 21-year-old widow issued a heartbreaking statement about the proud soldier she lost and the love they shared.
She said: "On that day I lost not only my husband, but my best friend, my hero and the best daddy Harley could ever wish for.
"Words cannot express how much I will miss him.
"When the lights go out every day, I miss his warmth, his love, his hugs and kisses."
She added: "When a husband goes to fight for his country, I and so many wives say goodbye to our loved ones with a mixture of apprehension and fear.
"The moment they land on British soil, your tensions ease and you look forward to being a family again."
She was visiting her family in Essex on the day he flew back into Teesside Airport and was due to be reunited with him the next day as he enjoyed two weeks respite from the rigours of Afghanistan with the Royal Signals.
She said: "What happened that May evening destroyed my faith in many things.
"It shattered my innocence, my hopes and our dreams as a family.
"Although David is gone, so much of him lives on in our precious little boy and that is what sustains me every day."
The funeral service will take place at 1pm at Christ Church, Eston.Reuse content