THE widow of a Bicester soldier killed in Afghanistan wept as his body was repatriated to the UK.

Warrant Officer Class 2 Charlie Wood’s wife Heather stood at the side of the road in Wootton Bassett wearing his medals with pride.

British Legion members later joined people in Oxford to pay tribute as his cortege arrived at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

More than 100 comrades from 23 Pioneer Regiment, based with WO2 Wood at St David’s Barracks, joined his family in the Wiltshire town for the first repatriation of 2011.

Mrs Wood placed red roses and a Middlesbrough Football Club scarf on his hearse as it passed by.

WO2 Wood, 34, was killed in an explosion as he was leading the clearance of a route through the Khushdal Kalay area of the Helmand River Valley, Afghanistan.

The advanced search adviser, who was serving with the Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Task Force, was caught in the blast on December 28.

Last night his friends and comrades said he was a soldier for soldiers, always putting his men first.

Sgt Craig Perry, 36, of 23 Pioneer Regiment, said: “He was a happy-go-lucky type of guy and he had an infectious personality. He would basically do anything for the guys, he was always for the lads and he would always look after them first, putting them before himself.

“He had the mentality that he wouldn’t send anybody out to do something he wouldn’t do, he was always with the lads and diligent and professional through and through.”

Only a few days before his death, WO2 Wood was organising the Christmas celebrations for his men.

Warrant Officer Class 1 Senior Master Instructor Chris Swift, 37, also of 23 Pioneer Regiment, added: “Charlie was always a fun-loving fellow, he was the life and soul of the mess. All the times I used to go out with him and his wife, Heather, he had a smile on his face.

“He always had good things to say about people and was always happy to help – a really good guy to have around. A fantastic soldier and a fantastic leader of men.”

WO2 Wood leaves his widow Heather, mother Barbara, father John and sisters Samantha and Amanda.

Mrs Wood said: “Charlie had an infectious personality who made a positive effect on everyone he met; he had a heart of gold and endeared himself to everyone.

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

WO2 Wood, who joined the Army in 1994 and also served in Iraq and Bosnia, raised thousands of pounds for forces’ charities.

A total of 349 UK military personnel have died since operations in Afghanistan began in 2001.