"Stephen was a wonderful first born son, brother to two and friend to many; he was dearly loved and will be sorely missed. Stephen was always happy, caring and generous and we are sure that those fortunate enough to have known him will share in the loss we are now feeling.
"We can take some comfort knowing that he died amongst friends, doing something he loved and believed in. We are all immensely proud of him.
"We would ask that the press respect our need to grieve in private at this difficult time."
His Commanding Officer said:
"Stephen was, quite simply, an extraordinary man doing an extraordinary job. He embodied a life based on service to others, duty and self-sacrifice - the life of a soldier. He chose this life and lived it with a passion; he died prematurely, but he died doing what he loved.
"He gave his all for his friends, for The Parachute Regiment and for the difficult task he faced. How privileged we are to have known this courageous and talented soldier and every member of the unit is very proud and deeply honoured to have served alongside him.
"We think now about his family; our thoughts and prayers are with them, and in the silence of their lives we hope they will draw strength from the same memories we all share."