The British soldier killed in an attack on his base in Iraq was due to return home in two weeks, his mother said.
Lance Corporal Dennis Brady, aged 37, a reservist medic, was killed by mortar rounds fired at the Shaat Al Arab Hotel base in northern Basra on Sunday.
His mother, Brenda, 72, said her only son had sent her flowers for her birthday on Saturday. The next day she learned he had been killed.
"It was my birthday on Saturday and he sent me flowers. There was a card saying 'Happy Birthday love from Dennis'," she said as she cried.
"He should have been coming away from Iraq in two weeks. That was the end of his six months."
L/Cpl Brady, from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, was attached to the 1st Battalion the Light Infantry.
He served as a regular soldier in Kosovo, Bosnia and Afghanistan with the Royal Gurkha Rifles. L/Cpl Brady married wife Zoe six years ago.