The family of Private Daniel Wilford last night spoke of how proud they were of their “hero”.
His commanding officer described the 21-year-old from Huddersfield as an “archetypal Yorkshire soldier” with “bags of character”.
He was a close friend of Pte Anthony Frampton, also from Huddersfield, who was killed alongside him in the blast.
Susan Clarke, 51, Pte Wilford’s aunt, said they would remember him as a “fun-loving, caring, proud lad”.
“He’s done us all proud,” she said.
“He’s a hero in our eyes.”
Ms Clarke was sitting between Pte Wilford’s stepfather Paul Sharples, 42, and his mother Diane Sharples, 51, who was too upset to speak.
Pte Wilford’s aunt said: “At the moment, I’m sad, and I think I can say the same for his mum.”
Ms Clarke – the sister of Pte Wilford’s father, who died two years ago – said the family was afraid when he went to fight in Afghanistan, but that they tried not to show it to give him all the support they could as he headed out to the frontline.
Asked how the 21-year-old had felt when he learned he was to be deployed, she said: “He had his ups and downs about where he was going, but in the end he was looking forward to it.
“He was feeling OK.
“He’d been through the nerves, which I’m sure they must all go through.
“For us, we were proud of what he was doing.”
She added: “We were scared of what he was doing because obviously we were scared what might happen.
“But we needed to give him all the support from us, so we tried not to show that side of us to him.”
Ms Clarke explained that Pte Wilford had signed up for the Army at the age of 16, but left after about five weeks because “he hated every minute of it”.
But around a year later, he changed his mind.
“He decided when he was coming up to his 18th birthday he’d like to rejoin the Army and he wanted to be out there on the front line,” she continued.
“And that’s what he did when he was 18 – he put the ball in motion and decided he’d join up.”
Describing the soldier’s character, she added: “I would call him very loving.
“He enjoyed having lots of fun and would do anything for anybody, a very caring young man.”
His commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Zac Stenning, of 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, said: “He was the archetypal Yorkshire infantry soldier; quiet, unassuming but with bags of character.
“Wilf, as he was known by all, was happy-go-lucky and confident, and his smile would light up any room.
“Honest and dedicated, his friends and colleagues trusted and respected him.”
One message on the Gone Too Soon website last night read: “RIP Danny.
“Can’t believe this at all. I keep on texting you hoping for a reply; it just doesn’t seem real.
“You did everyone proud and you are a true hero.
“Just doesn’t seem real that I’m never going to see you again. Sleep tight my lovely.”
Another said: “We are for-ever in your debt. Sleep well our brave soldier.”