Gregg Stone will be a hero to his girl: Parents only told soldier was to be dad after tragic death
THE family of an East Yorkshire soldier killed in Afghanistan have revealed they only found out he was to become a father hours after his death.
Private Gregg Stone, 20, was shot dead on a daring mission to rescue an Afghan police officer taken prisoner by the Taliban.
In the family's first interview, his mother Angie Stone said: "We didn't know until after we lost Gregg, literally a few hours, that he was going to be a dad.
"We are just all so proud of him."
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Gregg had known his wife, Samantha, also 20, was expecting their first child, but the childhood sweethearts had decided to keep their news a secret until he was home on leave from Afghanistan.
He was killed on June 3, seven weeks into his six-month tour of duty and just a few weeks before his leave.
On Saturday, his family held a fête in their home village of Atwick, near Hornsea, to raise cash for the Yorkshire Regiment Benevolent Fund.
Until now, they have been too upset to talk publicly about their loss.
Mrs Stone, 56, said: "We will never feel complete again.
"We will always be like a jigsaw with the most important piece, Gregg, missing."
But Mrs Stone and her husband Bob, 46, vowed to ensure their unborn granddaughter, due in December and already named Grace, will know all about her brave father.
She said: "I am keeping a scrapbook, with 'My Dad' written on the front.
"Newspaper cuttings and photos are going in there and one day, when Grace wants to know about her dad, we will give it her."
Mrs Stone, a deputy manager at William Hill bookmakers in Hornsea, paid tribute to their daughter-in-law.
She said: "Samantha has been so strong. She is such a lovely girl."
Mrs Stone can recall, vividly, the couple's wedding reception, held at Lazaats hotel in Cottingham, two years ago.
"During their first dance to High by Lighthouse Family, it was as though no one else was in that room the way they were looking at each other."
Despite their loss, Mrs Stone said they draw strength from the fact their son died doing the job he had chosen.
"I could never be angry with the Army," she said. "It's like a second family."
Gregg was known by his family as their "laughing boy", said Mrs Stone.
"He would always give you a lift when you needed it," she said. "Gregg always wanted to make people smile even from a young age."
Gregg attended Hornsea School, where he met his future wife.
He joined the Army a week after turning 18 and, after completing his basic training, joined infantry unit 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment.
"He went to school to entertain, rather than to be educated," said Mrs Stone. "And it continued long after. There is a video clip, called Stig Of The Dance, on YouTube which was shot after bayonet practice one day.
"Morale was rock-bottom. Everyone had been worked up by the instructors, so by the end of it they were on such a low.
"Gregg decided to strip off, except for a pair of boxer shorts, white socks and a white glove.
"He put a gas mask on and came out of the shower block pulling Michael Jackson moves. That was Gregg all over."
Mr Stone, 46, thanked the people of Atwick and the East Yorkshire community for their support.
He said: "The local community, and especially the people of Atwick, have been incredibly wonderful. They have been so kind and compassionate.
"People can not do enough for us. They have been absolutely brilliant and we can't thank them enough for this."
Mr Stone said Hornsea Parish Council has agreed to honour a request by Gregg's widow to include his name to the town's war memorial.
"It will mean a lot to us all," he said. "We are also hoping Hornsea can give the Yorkshire Regiment the freedom of the town."