Just two years ago, talented Joe Murphy was picking up an A* in art GCSE for work including a remarkable self-portrait.
But he followed his dream of becoming a soldier and today the 18-year-old’s parents are preparing to see his body flown home from war-torn Aghanistan after he made the ultimate sacrifice to tend to a wounded comrade.
Brian and Jill Murphy, from Castle Bromwich, will be among bereaved parents of eight British troops who died during the bloodiest spell of fighting encountered by UK forces in Helmand so far.
Wootton Bassett is expected to come to a standstill when the flag-draped coffins of Rifleman Murphy and four friends from the 2nd Battalion The Rifles are taken from RAF Lyneham to the town’s mortuary.
Father-of-two Corporal Jonathan Horne, aged 28, from Walsall, and Rifleman William Aldridge, aged 18, from Bromyard, in Herefordshire, are among the dead.
All three were members of the same platoon and died after they went to help casualties of a bomb blast on Friday near Sangin.
A second explosion rigged as a booby trap killed them as they tried to comfort others or try and drag them to safety.
The deaths have prompted accusations that the Government has failed to properly equip troops for the latest offensive being waged on the Taliban.
But Prime Minister Gordon Brown has told the House of Commons that UK forces were the best equipped they had been in 40 years.