Tributes were paid today to a British soldier killed in a roadside blast in Afghanistan.
Lance Corporal Andrew Breeze, 31, from Manchester, died while on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province on Saturday.
His family said: "We are very proud of a brave, loving and sincere son and brother.
"He served for 14 years in the Armed Forces and was recognised as an excellent soldier.
"The Army was his life. He is going to be desperately missed by his family and his fiancee."
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Hadfield said: "A dedicated soldier and leader, he understood the risks inherent in his chosen profession, and still continuously deployed in the service of others, selflessly and courageously protecting his mates and the civilian population around him.
"He was a stalwart of the battalion, and of the Javelin Platoon. Throughout his service he had been no stranger to danger, and approached his work with discipline and determination, but always with a ready smile.
"Known as 'Windy' or 'Breezy' to his many friends in the battalion, it is perhaps this smile that will stick most in our minds, that and his ability to always see the good in situations and people.
"He was engaged to be married to Lorraine, and talked endlessly about her and his family.
"We are proud to say that he is one of ours and always will be, standing firm at all times, and striking hard whenever the enemy threatened."
L/Cpl Breeze had served in Northern Ireland and Iraq as well as Afghanistan.
Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Strickland MBE said: "We have lost a fine man, and the tragedy of his death spreads far.
"Lance Corporal Andy Breeze was the man that every company needs; experienced and approachable, he was there for everyone, always. Those who have been soldiers will know the effect of such a character, spreading calm reassurance in times of tension to those who are less certain.
"He died as he had lived, stepping forward to shoulder the burden of the task in hand, with a smile on his face."
Another colleague, Major Richard Grover, said he was "immensely popular and a friend to all", while Captain Rupert Pye-Watson said he would leave an "enormous gap".
Defence Secretary Liam Fox said: "I was saddened to learn of the death of Lance Corporal Andrew Breeze, who had earned his place as a highly valued member of The Mercian Regiment during 14 years of dedicated service to the Armed Forces.
"Known to all as an excellent soldier and capable leader, he had recently proved his courage as he evacuated a casualty under fire.
"My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time."Reuse content