The family of the soldier murdered in Woolwich paid tribute to "our hero" as they expressed their shock that he had been so brutally killed on British soil.
Lee Rigby's wife Rebecca, mother to their two-year-old son Jack, said: "You don't expect it to happen when he's in the UK. You think they're safe."
Speaking at the regimental HQ of Drummer Rigby's unit, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, in Bury, Greater Manchester, his stepfather Ian read a statement from the family.
He said: "What can we say about Lee, our hero? We are so so proud of Lee. We would like to say goodnight Lee, rest in peace our fallen soldier, we love you loads and words cannot describe how loved and sadly missed you will be."
He said his heart "skipped a beat" when he saw news reports of what had happened in Woolwich, and late that night the family were given the terrible news that the victim was Drummer Rigby.
The last text message he sent to his mother Lyn said: "Goodnight mum, I hope you had a fantastic day today because you are the most fantastic and one in a million mum that anyone could ever wish for. Thank you for supporting me all these years, you're not just my mum you're my best friend. So goodnight, love you loads."
Drummer Rigby was hit by a car and then attacked with weapons including a knife and a meat cleaver in Artillery Place, Woolwich, south-east London, on Wednesday.
Detectives have arrested four people in connection with his death.
Two men aged 22 and 28, accused of hacking him to death in the street, were held on suspicion of murder on the day of the attack. They are both in hospital in a stable condition after being shot by police. Video footage showed the men charging at armed officers - one who had been seen clutching a meat cleaver and a knife, and the other who had a gun.
A man and a woman, both 29, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder yesterday and are being questioned.