A soldier from the North East killed in Afghanistan two days before Christmas Day was described as “an exceptional young man” by his family.
Captain Richard Holloway, 29, believed to be from the Hamsterley area of County Durham, was killed as a result of enemy fire east of Kabul.
The soldier, from the Royal Engineers, leaves behind parents Jaquie and Neil, brother Luke and girlfriend Sandy.
In a statement, his family said: “Our son Richard was an exceptional young man, a perfectionist in everything he did and a loyal brother and friend, who embraced life to the full.”
They added: “He was a dedicated and totally committed member of the armed forces, relishing the excitement and challenge but always serious and reflective about his duties and responsibilities to those with whom he served.
“The sense of adventure he experienced with the Royal Engineers was echoed in his love of travel to faraway places and physical activity including surfing, kayaking, canoeing, mountain-biking and climbing.
“Wherever the action was, he wanted to be part of it – and that is where our beloved son, of whom we are so very proud, lost his life.”
Captain Ed Martin, from the Royal Engineers, said Capt Holloway, who was best man at his wedding earlier this year, was an “inspiration to others”.
“There was never a second wasted with Rich, he always had a plan and made the most of every day,” he said.
“He lived life to the full and was an inspiration to others to do the same. I have never met a more trustworthy, loyal or dedicated friend, he had humility in spades and I would have followed him anywhere.
“I am very lucky to have known him and feel exceptionally fortunate to have had him as the best man at my wedding earlier this year, he will be dearly missed.
“But my loss is only minor compared to that of his parents Jaquie and Neil, his brother Luke and girlfriend Sandy. My thoughts are with them all at this incredibly difficult time. Rest in peace.”
Capt Holloway’s commanding officer, who has not been named, said the soldier was “a natural leader” who was “revered by the Afghans whom he mentored tirelessly”.
“His tactical ability commanded wide respect; his judgment was un-erring, his enthusiasm was infectious and his standards never dropped,” he said.
“He had a humble self-confidence that instinctively drew people to him. His own brand of selflessness and professionalism marked him out as a soldier, but it was the warmth of his personality that set him out as a popular and effective leader.”
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: “It was with great sadness that I learnt of the death of Captain Richard Holloway. It is clear from the tributes that have been paid to him that he was an officer who set the highest of standards and was liked and respected in equal measure by his colleagues and commanders.
“His great contribution and, indeed, his sacrifice will not be forgotten. My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Captain Holloway’s family, friends and colleagues at this most difficult time.”
Capt Holloway’s death took the number of UK service members who have lost their lives since operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001 to 447 and was the ninth this year.
The majority of British forces are in Helmand Province, in the south of the country, but some also operate elsewhere, including in and around the capital, Kabul.
The drawdown of British troops is under way, and all combat troops are due to have left by the end of 2014.