TRIBUTES have been paid to a Havant-born soldier who died in a bomb blast.
Sapper Elijah Bond was born in the town and moved with his family to St Austell, in Cornwall as a child.
The 24-year-old was conducting an engineer reconnaissance task in central Helmand, Afghanistan, when he was hurt in an improvised bomb explosion last Tuesday.
He was flown to Camp Bastion by helicopter and later taken to the Queen Elizabeth NHS Hospital in Birmingham where he died on Thursday.
His family said in a statement: ‘Elijah Cooper Bond left the world in the way he chose to live his life. He was a beautiful son, amazing brother, a proud uncle and our best friend. From a wicked grin to a righteous smile he could light up a room as much as he lit up our lives.
‘He was so mischievous and fun yet grounded and down-to-earth. He will forever be a piece of us and remain in our hearts.’
Lt Col Kevin Copsey, Commanding Officer, 35 Engineer Regiment, said Sapper Bond was a first-rate soldier who would be sadly missed.
‘Sapper Elijah Bond’s friendly exterior belied a soldier who was physically robust, mentally tough, and always intent on doing the utmost for his team-mates,’ he said.
He joined the Corps of Royal Engineers in August 2008.