THE family of the Gwent soldier killed by insurgents in Afghanistan say he died doing the only job he ever wanted to do. CHRIS WOOD reports.

JAMIE GUNN was a joker, a loving son, brother and grandson, and a committed soldier.

Even when he Monmouth 21-year-old was on leave from the front line in Afghanistan, he wanted to go back and support his comrades in the First Battallion, The Rifles.

His mum Janet, 54, a nurse of Drybridge Street, Monmouth, said: "He was back home on leave in November. He was happy to be here, but he just wanted to get back to the boys, to help them. He knew he had a job to do.”

Rifleman Gunn was killed in Gereshk District, Helmand Province on Wednesday along with Corporal Tom Gaden, 24 and Lance Corporal Paul Upton, 31.

They were part of a team mentoring Afghan forces and it is believed their armoured WMIK Land Rover was blown up by either a pressure plate landmine or a wire-triggered bomb.

His loss has devastated his family back home in Monmouth.

Mr Gunn’s father Mervyn, 54, who runs the Monmouth Microstation shop said: “This is the worst feeling I have ever had. The world has changed, we’ve lost our boy.”

He added: "He was a wonderful son, he made us all smile. We loved him dearly and nothing will be the same."

His family said that all Rifleman Gunn had ever wanted to do was join the Army, and worked tirelessly to achieve his goal.

After leaving Monmouth Comprehensive at 16, he started an apprenticeship at a garage in Abergavenny. “But he had always wanted to join the armed forces from a young age,” said his mother.

“I asked him why he didn’t want to do something safe like be a mechanic, but he wanted to be an infantry man. He said there was no way he wasn’t getting in and said ‘I just want to shine mum’.”

Initially, he wanted to join the Marines. But Mr Gunn struggled to gain necessary times in running trials.

He trained hard, running around Monmouth until finally he was accepted in The Rifles.

He joined up in October 2007 and was based at Beachley Barracks, Chepstow.

Mr Gunn worked tirelessly and even overcame a fractured shin during his training at Catterick Barracks. He left for Afghanistan in September 2008.

Mr Gunn had moved with his family to Monmouth from the Forest of Dean in 2000. While he was English-born, his mother described him as a “Plastic Taffy”.

“He had a very Welsh accent and all his friends teased him about it. But he was proud of his Welsh upbringing and always supported them in the rugby," she said. He liked cars, martial arts, rugby, weight training and the family’s dogs, English Bull Terrier, Poppy and Jack Russell Chirpy.

Mr Gunn had also worked as a barman in the Punch House in Monmouth and liked going on holiday to Newquay with his close circle of friends.

He was single, but his family said he shared a special relationship with Brooke Davies-Pink, 18, from Monmouth.

Grandmother Dot Stevens, who also lives in Monmouth, said: “He was very gentlemanly and helped out old ladies.”

His sister said fellow soldiers had been in touch to say Mr Gunn was the best rifleman they had served with.

She also said the Ministry of Defence was considering putting him forward for Non Commissioning Officer training - which, for a 21-year-old is virtually unheard of.

Comrades' bodies to be flown back tomorrow

Rifelman Gunn's body and those of the two other comrades killed last week will be flown back to RAF Lynham tomorrow.

There will be a procession along Wooton Bassett High Street with his coffin and a fly pass over Beachley Barracks, Chepstow in honour of him and the other two soldiers killed.

After a post mortem examination, the family will arrange a funeral in Monmouth.

'An aching inside now he's gone'

His sister Jessica, 24, said : “He was such a popular boy, he got on equally well with boys and girls. He wasn’t a mans’ man or a ladies man, he was just full of funny stories and everyone loved him.”

Miss Gunn laughed as she recounted practical jokes her brother used to play on the family.

“We just used to crack up the whole time,” she said.

“I remember, we were on the Isle of Wight last year. We were having a picnic and mum was lying down. Jamie was sat behind her putting twigs in her hair and we were just trying not to laugh. She then got up and realised her hair was full of them.

“He was an outstanding brother, very protective and we had a really strong bond. There's just this aching inside now he's gone."

“I can never remember us arguing once, no fallings out or anything. We just made each other laugh and played practical jokes on each other.”

She remembers one time fondly. Mr Gunn liked doughnuts and on his 21st birthday, she gave him one as a present, the size of a pizza.

Miss Gunn, who works in London for Disney, said: “He was incredibly proud of what he was doing. He was adored by so many people and all his friends and all the soldiers were his brothers.

“He had this ability to make people laugh and was very handsome. He was cheeky and naughty, but got away with it.”