The Ministry of Defence has named the soldier hacked to death in Woolwich on Tuesday as Drummer Lee Rigby, 25, of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
Drummer Rigby, who joined the Army in 2006, had served in Helmand province, Afghanistan, where he was a member of the Fire Support Group in Patrol Base Woqab.
A life-long Manchester United fan, he had also stood outside the Royal Palaces as part of his battalion's public duties commitment.
He was the father of a two-year-old son called Jack.
Lieutenant Colonel Jim Taylor, Commanding Officer Second Fusiliers, said Drummer Rigby was a "real character".
He said: "Larger than life, he was at the heart of our Corps of Drums.
"An experienced and talented side drummer and machine gunner, he was a true warrior and served with distinction in Afghanistan, Germany and Cyprus.
"His ability, talent and personality made him a natural choice to work in the recruiting group. He will be sorely missed by everyone in the Second Fusiliers."
A shocked and tearful neighbour outside the family home, a council house on the Langley estate in Middleton, Greater Manchester said: "He had always wanted to be in the army since he was knee high."
The woman, who did not want to be named, added: "He was a lovely lad, he lived around here for years and went to Middleton Tech."
A report on the Halifax Courier's website said Drummer Rigby married Rebecca Metcalfe at St Anne's Church, in Southowram, West Yorkshire.
He was the eldest son of Lyn and Ian Rigby, from Manchester, and had been based at Catterick garrison, in North Yorkshire.
Ms Metcalfe worked as a recruitment consultant at Hays Construction and Property, in Leeds, according to the newspaper.
Drummer Rigby's best man was Philip Dean, while the ushers were Fusillier Robinson and Private Brookes, the paper said.
It was reported the couple were set to live in Hounslow Barrack, London.
Drummer Lee Rigby, or ‘Riggers’ to his friends, was born in July 1987 in Crumpsall, Manchester.
He joined the Army in 2006 and on successful completion of his infantry training course at Infantry Training Centre Catterick was selected to be a member of the Corps of Drums and posted to 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
His first posting was as a machine gunner in Cyprus where the battalion was serving as the resident infantry battalion in Dhekelia.
Having performed a plethora of tasks while in Cyprus, he returned to the UK in the early part of 2008 to Hounslow, West London. Here, Drummer Rigby stood proudly outside the Royal Palaces as part of the Battalion’s public duties commitment.
He was an integral member of the Corps of Drums throughout the Battalion’s time on public duties, the highlight of which was being a part of the Household Division’s Beating the Retreat - a real honour for a line infantry Corps of Drums.
In April 2009, Drummer Rigby deployed on operations for the first time to Helmand province, Afghanistan, where he served as a member of the Fire Support Group in Patrol Base Woqab.
On returning to the UK he completed a second tour of public duties and then moved with the Battalion to Celle, Germany, to be held at a state of high readiness for contingency operations as part of the Small Scale Contingency Battle Group.
In 2011, Drummer Rigby took up a Recruiting post in London where he also assisted with duties at Regimental Headquarters in the Tower of London.
A Ministry of Defence statement read: "An extremely popular and witty soldier, Drummer Rigby was a larger than life personality within the Corps of Drums and was well known, liked and respected across the Second Fusiliers. He was a passionate and life-long Manchester United fan.
"A loving father to his son Jack, aged two, he will be sorely missed by all who knew him. The Regiment’s thoughts and prayers are with his family during this extremely difficult time. 'Once a Fusilier, always a Fusilier.'"
Captain Alan Williamson, Adjutant Second Fusiliers, said: "Drummer Rigby or ‘Riggers’ as he was known within the Platoon was a cheeky and humorous man, always there with a joke to brighten the mood, he was an extremely popular member of the Fire Support Group (FSG).
"An excellent side drummer and highly competent machine gunner, he was always there to help out the younger members of the FSG whenever possible. His loss will be felt across the Battalion but this is nothing compared to how his family must be feeling at this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with them. Once a Fusilier, always a Fusilier."
Warrant Officer Class 1 Ned Miller, Regimental Sergeant Major Second Fusiliers, said: "Riggers is what every battalion needs. He was one of the Battalion’s great characters always smiling and always ready to brighten the mood with his fellow Fusiliers.
"He was an excellent drummer and well respected within the Drums platoon. He was easily identified whilst on parade by the huge smile on his face and how proud he was to be a member of the Drums.
"He would always stop for a chat just to tell me Manchester United would win the league again. My thoughts are with his family and they will always be part of the Fusilier family. Once a Fusilier, always a Fusilier."
Sergeant Barry Ward, Drum Major Second Fusiliers, said: "Drummer Rigby was a loving father, with a very bubbly character. He was an excellent Drummer, loved his job and was a highly popular member of the Platoon.
"He had served in Afghanistan as an FSG Operator and was very diligent in his work. He was always around when needed and will be sorely missed by all members of the Second Fusiliers Corps of Drums. Once a Fusilier, always a Fusilier."
A steady stream of relatives and friends visited the family home in Middleton throughout the day to support the family.
Police and PCSOs also stood guard outside the house and patrolled the street.
The Rt Revd Mark Davies, The Bishop of Middleton, said; "The nation has been shocked by Lee's death. But the greatest burden is carried by those he knew and loved. Our prayers and sympathies are with his family, friends and those he served with."
Drummer Rigby was brutally murdered in the street in Woolwich, south east London, yesterday by two attackers who were British and of Nigerian descent.
The pair, who were shot by police, were known to security services, and apparently shouted "Allah Akhbar" as they struck.
It is believed that the serving soldier was run over and then hacked to death, yards from a primary school.
Alfie Swain, who said he had met Drummer Rigby, told BBC News: "I can't explain it, how much it hurts. It's just disappointing.
"I'd met him in and out of the Army base itself. Hearing that he's gone is just destroying. He was a nice man. He was caring, loving. To hear that he's gone is just disappointing.
"I'm just terribly, terribly upset. I just want to burst into tears right now."
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the entire defence community was "shocked and saddened" by the killing of Drummer Rigby.
"This was a senseless murder of a soldier who has served the Army faithfully in a variety of roles, including operational tours in Afghanistan. Our thoughts today are with his family and loved ones," he said.
The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, said the killing had only reinforced the determination within the armed forces.
"We are absolutely determined not to be intimidated into not doing the right thing, whether it is here in this country or in Afghanistan or wherever we seek to serve the nation," he said.
He said that he and the Prime Minister had agreed that personnel should resume wearing their military uniforms when they are off base.
"I think this is a completely isolated incident - we wait to hear more but that is our view," he said.
"There is no reason at all why we should not wear our uniforms with pride, but on a common sense basis."
Today the killers remained under armed guard in different London hospitals after they were shot by armed police.
Eyewitnesses said that one of them charged towards officers clutching bloodied weapons including a meat cleaver, while the other brandished a gun.
One chilling video clip showed a man with heavily blood-stained hands claiming the killing was committed in the name of Allah and ranting about the Government.
He said: "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you."
The attacker went on: "We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."
Today officers searched the former home of a man called Michael Adebolajo in Saxilby, Lincolnshire, as well as other addresses in London.
This afternoon two police vans were stationed outside a ground-floor flat in east Greenwich, south-east London, with about a dozen officers positioned outside.
The front door of the flat in Eastney Street, had been shattered.
One neighbour said four people had been led away from the flat at 6am, and that two children, aged three and seven, were also taken away.
Another neighbour Nicola James, 45, said she believed one of the men arrested over the Woolwich incident was in a relationship with one of the two women who live at the Greenwich flat.
Two officers walked out of the flat carrying two full black bin liners.
Ms James said she had not seen the other suspect around the housing estate, but added: "He was always out in Woolwich, giving out radical leaflets."
Following a meeting of the Cobra emergency response committee today, Prime Minister David Cameron said the attack had "sickened" the country.
He said: "This country will be absolutely resolute in its stand against violent extremism and terror. We will never give in to terror or terrorism in any of its forms."
Anjem Choudary, former leader of banned Islamic group Al Muhajiroun, said he knew one of the attackers but had not seen him for about two years.
He claimed to recognise the man who was filmed wielding a bloodied meat cleaver while saying: "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you."