A British Army paratrooper killed in an apparent friendly-fire incident in Afghanistan was “never prepared to accept less than the best”, his family said.
New Zealander Private John “Jack” Howard died while on patrol in the Nad-e Ali District of Helmand Province on Sunday.
Initial reports suggest he could have been shot by cannon fire from a low-flying US plane, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.
The 23-year-old from Wellington, serving in the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, was “always striving for the next challenge”, his family told New Zealand media.
In a statement in the New Zealand Herald, they said they were “absolutely devastated to lose our son, brother, grandson, nephew and cousin.”
They went on: “Jack was immensely proud to be both a para and a New Zealander, He was absolutely passionate about what he was doing. His decision to try for the paras, which he regarded as the foremost infantry regiment in the world, reflected this drive and passion.”
The incident was the 11th suspected death by friendly-fire since operations began in Afghanistan, and the third this year, the MoD said.
David Cameron said that the latest death of a British service member in Southern Afghanistan was “very tragic” but a consequence of “the fog of war”.
It is understood the US jet believed to have been responsible for the death was on a “strafing run” and had been called in by British troops involved in a gunfight with insurgents.
Mr Cameron said: “It is a very tragic case. It is particularly tragic when you have one of these incidents of so-called friendly-fire. There needs to be an inquiry, as there always is in a case like this, so we get to the bottom of what has happened and why a mistake was made in this case.”