UK

UK soldier killed in Afghanistan blast named

Charlie and Heather Wood
Image caption Heather Wood described Charlie Wood as her "loving husband" and "best friend"

A soldier killed in an explosion in Afghanistan as he helped to clear an area of bombs has been named as Warrant Officer Class 2 Charlie Wood.

WO Wood, 34 and from Middlesbrough, was serving with 23 Pioneer Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps.

A bomb exploded on Tuesday as he was helping co-ordinate the clearance of a road in Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province.

His wife, Heather, paid tribute to a "loving husband", while colleagues remembered his "huge character".

They also recalled how on Christmas Day he had helped to arrange a hot dinner for almost 150 soldiers, an appearance from Father Christmas and the giving of presents, as well as co-ordinating the clearance of a 20kg improvised explosive device.

Some 348 British troops have been killed in operations in Afghanistan since 2001.

WO Wood was serving as an advanced search adviser with the counter-IED task force, helping to co-ordinate the search for devices in the Khushdal Kalay area, when he was killed.

He had joined the Army in 1994 and gained rapid promotion, before serving in Iraq in 2003 and Bosnia in 2007.

The Ministry of Defence issued a statement describing Warrant Officer as having "masses of potential".

It said he was also a fundraiser who had raised thousands of pounds for armed forces charities.

He was a keen footballer and a supporter of his home town team, Middlesbrough.

As well as his wife, he leaves behind his parents John and Barbara and sisters Samantha and Amanda.

His wife said: "The family have lost a son, a brother and an uncle and I have lost my loving husband who was also my best friend.

"Charlie had an infectious personality [and] made a positive effect on everyone he met; he had a heart of gold and endeared himself to everyone. He will be sorely missed by those who had the good fortune to have met and known him.

"He will be forever in our thoughts for the rest of our lives."

The commanding officer of the counter-IED task force, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Davis GM, said: "The death of WO2 Wood has... taken us all by surprise and the corresponding sense of loss is massive.

"He was a huge character... a man who never rested. He was always on the go, constantly thinking ahead, planning the next stage and working out how best to achieve the mission."

He added that WO Wood had been "the archetypal sergeant major - firm but always impeccably fair and his 'kids', as he termed the soldiers, all loved him".

The 23 Pioneer Regiment's commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Dom Fletcher, said: "Squadron Sergeant Major Charles Henry Wood was a soldier, leader, husband and a man I am proud to call my friend.

"A truly inspirational character, he had an irrepressible enthusiasm, an infectious and at times hilarious sense of humour and a true zest for life. He had the epitome of a 'glass half-full' attitude to life."

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