Jonah, as he was known to his friends, was a man of charisma and compassion with a razor-sharp sense of humour, his commanding officer from the 1st Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, said yesterday. Sgt Jones, 31, father of a five-year-old son, was commanding a two-vehicle patrol in northern Basra on Sunday when the leading armoured Land Rover was hit by a roadside bomb as it returned to base. The Birmingham-born sergeant was wounded and medics fought in vain at the scene to save him. Four others were injured, one very seriously.
The death is the first for the Desert Rats - 7th Armoured Brigade - since it returned to Iraq for the second time just weeks ago, and the 98th British fatality.
Last night, Sgt Jones's wife, Nickie, said: "Jonah was a real all-round sportsman. He boxed, played football and was passionate about Aston Villa. He loved being a soldier and was very proud of his regiment. But most of all, he was a fantastic dad and loving husband."
Lt-Col Simon Marr MBE added: "He had a smile for everyone. We are left remembering his drive, his courage, his humour and his typically understated contribution to the battalion. We will never forget him. Our thoughts and prayers are now with his wife, Nickie, and his young son, Jack."
Lt-Col Marr said the death was an immense blow. "In the short period of this tour, he and his patrol had established an excellent rapport with the local population."
Sgt Jones had just returned to Iraq having served as part of the First Fusiliers Reconnaissance Group in the original invasion, and later phases of 2003, after which he was promoted to sergeant. He had also served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland and Kosovo.
He joined the Army at 16 andmoved from the 3rd to the 1st Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in Warminster in 1993 after a merger. In 1998, he was posted to Army Training Regiment Bassingbourne before returning to the battalion two years later.