(CNN) -- The British soldier slain in a gruesome cleaver attack in London was a well-liked infantryman and machine gunner who served in Afghanistan and Cyprus, and then became a military recruiter and ceremonial drummer outside the Royal Palaces, the military said Thursday.
Drummer Lee Rigby, 25, was part of the Regimental Recruiting Team in London, and as a machine gunner, he was part of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. He was also the father of a 2-year-old son, Jack, the UK Ministry of Defense said.
Fellow soldiers described him as having an engaging personality. He joined the army in 2006 and acquired the nickname "Riggers" in his platoon.
"He was a real character within the Second Fusiliers," Lt. Col. Jim Taylor, commanding officer of the 2nd Fusiliers, said in a statement. "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."
Rigby also loved soccer's Manchester United, soldiers said.
"He was one of the Battalion's great characters always smiling and always ready to brighten the mood with his fellow Fusiliers," Warrant Officer Ned Miller of the 2nd Fusiliers said in a statement. "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."
Rigby's death has attracted worldwide attention because the slaying scene was captured on a cell phone camera. A man with bloodied hands, holding a meat cleaver and a knife, took responsibility for the killing because, he said to the camera, "Muslims are dying daily."
That man and a second person are under arrest, being treated in London hospitals for injuries suffered in a confrontation with armed police at the scene, in southeast London's Woolwich neighborhood. Authorities have not released their identities.